Booth-Kelly Railroad/Wendling

February 24, 1980

The steam whistles have been silent for many years now, but five Obsidians and four non-members hiked some of the disused railroad grade through Booth-Kelly (now Georgia-Pacific) territory at Wendling, near Marcola. Starting off under rather unpromising grey skies, we walked up Pine Ridge Road and a short-cut across to the old Main Line. Now covered with tall trees that almost form a canopy, the grade is an ideal walkway nearly level and with gracious curves; thick banks of salal and Oregon Grape line much of its shady length. Piles of well-rotted ties, rusty spikes and other bits of track hardware along the way all bore testimony to the activity that once resounded along these stretches.

At our half-way point, Spur l, lunch was taken under sunny skies. Views were had in this replanted area of Wendling’s own mountains — Nebo and Oshkosh — across to the Coburg Hills, and north up the Mohawk Valley. Back on Main line and then down Pole Read, we first visited the site of a long-ago logging camp where remains of huts and shacks could be seen.

Many broken bottles and kerosene cans were noted. Further down Pole Road we admired a log cabin from a distance and then found it to be “half a log cabin” in close-up, specially built this way for a G-P television commercial!! On down to Mill Creek Road, a look at all that remains of the high trestle bridge (the concrete abutments) that carried the rail across Mill Creek. One quick glimpse at the mill site ruins and the huge wigwam burner foundations, all fast returning to nature, and our 11 mile walk back into the past was over.

A good day with a very nice group. Thanks to Georgia-Pacific (and Loyal Swofford in particular) for permission to hike in this interesting area. “Walking the grade” were: Tom Brinton, Bernie Claypool, Margaret Crosland, Joanne Haines, Lee Hatch, Helene Johnston, Bobbie Kalbfleisch, Betty Legris, and John Cecil (leader).

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