Mount Hood Railroad

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This page was last updated on January 6, 2016.

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The company was incorporated October 23, 1905 and opened in May 1906. The Mount Hood Railway was chartered by Union Pacific on April 30, 1968 to acquire the assets of the Mount Hood Railroad. The company began operations October 16, 1968 and continued until November 2, 1987 when it was sold by UP to local interests and reorganized under the original name. In April 2008, MH was acquired by Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC. (Union Pacific web site)

The following comes from "Union Pacific Northwest", by Jeff Asay, page 282:

Union Pacific's second acquisition in the 1960s lacked the drama of the Traction Company affair because the target was a quiet, family-owned shortline which had eliminated passenger service years earlier. The Mount Hood Railroad Company was incorporated in Utah on February 27, 1905 by the Eccles family to construct a rail line from David Eccles' Oregon Lumber Co. mill at Dee, north to a connection with the O-WR&N main line at Hood River. Construction started two months later and the line received its first business on May 1, 1906. An extension southward to Parkdale was ready January 1, 1910. All told, the Mount Hood was just over 21 miles long when finished and employed an unusual switchback arrangement outside Hood River to overcome a steep three percent grade.

The railroad plugged along for years, delivering cars of lumber to the O-WR&N at Hood River for movement south and east. In 1966, U.S. Plywood purchased the Hines Lumber Co. mill at Dee and expressed interest in acquiring the railroad as well. Union Pacific, hearing that the Mount Hood might be offered for sale, entered into negotiations with A. C. Lighthall, president of the line, in July. An agreement was reached soon thereafter and the sale was approved by the ICC on October 1, 1968, UP taking control at that time. UP changed the name of the line to the Mount Hood Railway when it took over.

The six-mile Dee-to-Parkdale section was abandoned on January 12, 1983, after more than two years had passed without revenue traffic. The rails were left in place, however, when it appeared the line might be sold for a tourist operation. Declining traffic on the balance of the line in the 1980s, reflecting the statewide slump in forest products, led UP to entertain offers to purchase the entire railroad. After several false starts, UP finally signed an agreement in November, 1987, under which the entire line from Hood River to Parkdale was sold to the newly formed Mount Hood Railroad Co. for $650,000. The new company, with backing from the line's lumber mills, not only continued the existing freight operation but pledged to begin summer tourist runs in the near future. O-WR&N's brick Hood River depot was included in the purchase price to serve as the line's headquarters.

(On page 283 of the same book, there is shown a photo of Mount Hood Alco no. 50 at the time of the sale to Union Pacific.)

Mount Hood Railroad (1905-1968)

Incorporated on February 23, 1905. Owned by Oregon Lumber Co. at Baker, Oregon. Construction began on April 3, 1905; laying of rails began on December 15, 1905; first operation was on May 1, 1906. Construction was formally completed on December 31, 1909.

Original route was Hood River to Dee, 16.4 miles, opened on May 1, 1906. The southern section, Dee to Parkdale, was built between March and December 1909, and placed in operation on January 1, 1910.

First listed in ICC records for June 30, 1906 as an operating independent company with 16 miles owned and in use. Extended to 22 miles owned and operated by June 30, 1911. Reduced to 21 miles in 1931.

Sold assets to Union Pacific on October 15, 1968. From then on it was shown as a 21-mile, operating subsidiary of Union Pacific Railroad Company.

Mount Hood Railway (1968-1987)

Organized on April 30, 1968 by Union Pacific for the purpose of purchasing and operating the Mount Hood Railroad; purchase completed on October 15, 1968; owned and operated by Union Pacific from October 16, 1968 to November 1987.

ICC Finance docket no. 25216 -- Union Pacific purchase and control of Mount Hood Railroad Company, as Mount Hood Railway Company. See also: ICC Finance docket no. 25217 -- Mount Hood Railway Co. securities.

"Portland -- The Mount Hood Railroad Co., a 21-mile line serving the Hood River Valley, became a property of the Union Pacific Railroad Wednesday, the UP office here said." "The Interstate Commerce Commission earlier this month approved the UP's application to purchase the assets of the railway from A. C. Lighthall, Baker, the principal stockholder." "George H. Baker, general manager of the UP operations in the Northwest, was named president of the new line." "The Mount Hood Railroad is a single track line running between Hood River to Parkdale. It was constructed between 1905 and 1910." (The Bulletin [Bend, Oregon], October 17, 1968; "Wednesday" was October 16, 1968)

The Hood River Branch, formerly the Mount Hood Railway, was sold to the Port of Hood River in November 1987. Union Pacific began abandonment proceedings when the Port of Hood River and on-line shippers offered to purchase the branch in early 1985.

Sold by Union Pacific in November 1987.

Mount Hood Railroad (1987-current)

Mount Hood Railroad -- The official web site of the current shortline railroad.

MH operates freight and seasonal passenger excursion service from a connection with the UP at Hood River to Parkdale, OR (21.1 miles). Traffic is fruit, lumber and general commodities. Most revenue comes from passenger excursions. (Union Pacific web site)

"Sale of Mount Hood Railway completed -- The Mount Hood Railroad of Hood River has been sold to Permian Basin Railways Inc. for an undisclosed amount, Mount Hood Railroad said Wednesday." "The sale completed last Wednesday, to a subsidiary of Chicago-based Iowa Pacific Holdings, had originally been scheduled to close on Dec. 31. It was delayed because of the paperwork took longer than expected." "The 102-year-old Mount Hood Railroad offers freight and passenger service through the Hood River Valley. It was bought in 1987 from Union Pacific by a group of local and regional investors." (The Oregonian [Portland, Oregon], April 9, 2008)

Steam Locomotives

9 Locomotives

Date To
Mount Hood
Date Sold By
Mount Hood
Type Builder Builder
Date Drivers
Cylinders Weight
MH 1 (1st) UP 1251 Nov 1904 (ca. 1905) 2-8-0 BLW 1802 Dec 1868 51 18x22 93,000 1
MH 1 (2nd)   (new) Jan 1919 2T Shay Lima 951 Apr 1905 26-1/2 8x12 36,000 2
MH 1 (3rd) Tacoma Eastern 2 1915 (ca. 1922) 4-4-0 Manchester 1088 Nov 1882 57   50,850 3
MH 1 (4th)   (new) 1954 2-8-2 BLW 55397 May 1922 44   139,000  
MH 2 UP 1252 Nov 1904   2-8-0 BLW 1804 Dec 1868 51 18x22 93,300 1
MH 3   (new) Dec 1927 2T Shay Lima 1892 May 1907 26-1/2 3-8x10 48,000 4
MH 11   (new) 1951 2-8-2 BLW 53486 Jul 1920 44 18x24 135,000 5
MH 36 OWRR&N (UP) 2136 May 1947 1951 2-8-2 BLW 36333 Apr 1911 57 21x30 208,450 6
MH 100   (new) 1954 2T Heisler Heisler 1440 Jul 1920       7

General Notes:

  1. Above steam locomotive listing taken from Robertson's "Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, Volume III, Oregon - Washington"


  1. MH no. 1 (1st) and MH no. 2, ex UP 1251 and 1252, were part of the original group of three 2-8-0s on Union Pacific, delivered in December 1868.
  2. MH no. 1 (2nd) was built new in 1905 for Oregon Lumber Company, for Mount Hood Railroad; sold January 1919 to J. W. Brothers, Battle Ground, Washington; sold January 1921 to Oregon Lumber no. 1, Hood River, Oregon; sold to dealer E. J. Martin, Portland, Oregon; sold to W. J. Miller Lumber, Bellfountain, Oregon. (see Lima no. 951 at
  3. MH no. 1 (3rd) was built in 1882 as Oregon Railway & Navigation no. 58; renumbered to ORy&N 443 (2nd) in 1890; renumbered to ORy&N 56 in 1894; renumbered to ORR&N 56 in 1896; vacated in 1901; sold to Tacoma Eastern Railway no. 2; sold to Mount Hood Railroad no. 1 (3rd) in 1919; possibly scrapped after the arrival of MH no. 1 (4th) in 1922.
  4. MH no. 3 was sold on December 27, 1927 to Oregon Lumber Company at Dee, Oregon. (see Lima no. 1892 at
  5. MH no. 11 was sold to Oregon Lumber Company at Dee, Oregon; shown on Connelly's Baldwin list as assigned at Parkdale, Oregon, and later scrapped.
  6. MH no. 36 was purchased in May 1947 from Union Pacific; built in April 1911 as OWRR&N 536; renumbered to OWRR&N 2136 in 1915; vacated by UP at Baker, Oregon in May 1947.
  7. "The Mount Hood acquired Number 2136. It was a mighty engine, but it weighed almost twice as much as the little engine it was to replace." "The purchase was a fiasco. The monster sat in the Hood River yard for seven years until it was sold for scrap." (Switchback To The Timber, by Clem Pope, page 72-73)
  8. "Mt. Hood never really put #36 into operation. The engine was too big for the line and laid over rail each time they tried to take her out of Hood River. The engine never even made a successful trip up the switchback. She sat in the yards in Hood River for a number of years and was scrapped about 1951." (Martin Hansen,, August 7, 2014)
  9. "Mount Hood no. 36 was sold to Zidell Machinery Company for scrap in July 1954." (Switchback To The Timber, by Clem Pope, page 112; reference courtesy of Jeff Moore via, August 7, 2014)
  10. MH 100 was a standard gauge Heisler locomotive built in 1920 for Mount Hood; scrapped in 1954. ( shows a photo of no. 100 as Oregon Lumber Company no. 100, a 36-inch gauge Heisler, at Bates, Oregon.)

Diesel Locomotives

2 Locomotives

Alco S-3 -- 1 unit
660 horsepower; B-B trucks; 198,000 pounds operating weight

MH 50 Sep 1950 78317 UP 1250


  1. Mount Hood Railroad/Railway no. 50 was built new in 1950 for Mount Hood; entire railroad sold to UP on October 16, 1968; renumbered to UP 1250 very soon after sale to UP; repainted to full UP yellow and gray in February 1969; traded UP to EMD in August 1970 as part of UP's purchase of its DDA40X Centennial locomotives.
  2. Jack Pfeifer took a photo of UP 1250 at the Albina engine shop in Portland on May 5, 1969; which shows a snowplow on the cab end of the unit; . (Modeler Railroader forum, July 9, 2013)
  3. Ken Ardinger took a photo of UP 1250 on August 1, 1969 that shows UP 1250 in fresh paint and operating on UP's Mount Hood branch line.
  4. MH 50 had Alco order number S-3153.


Alco HH-1000 -- 1 unit
1000 horsepower; B-B trucks; 230,000 pounds operating weight

Date To
Mount Hood
MH 51 N&SS 2 N&SS 1002 Nov 1954 Jul 1940 69147 UP 1251


  1. Mount Hood Railroad/Railway 51 was built in 1940 as Newburgh & South Shore no. 2, Cleveland, Ohio; renumbered to N&SS 1002; sold to Mount Hood Railroad no. 51 in November 1954; entire railroad sold to UP on October 16, 1968; renumbered to UP 1251 very soon after sale to UP; retired by UP in August 1970 and sold for scrap locally in Portland, Oregon, after October 15, 1971 (date of photo)
  2. UP 1251 had only been renumbered and did not receive full UP yellow and gray paint by the time it was retired.
  3. MH 51 had Alco order number S-1810.


Mount Hood Cabooses


Mount Hood Railroad/Railway -- A Google Map of the route of the Mount Hood Railroad/Railway.

More Information

Mount Hood Railroad -- The official web site of the current shortline railroad.

Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, Volume III, Oregon - Washington, by Donald B. Robertson, 1995, page 92

Switchback To The Timber, by Clem Pope (Old Forester Publishing Co., 1992) (extremely limited printing; PDF, 120 pages, 32MB)