The CONDON BRANCH of the Union Pacific Ry.



By Jerry Tanquist, PNWC contributor, edited by Ron McCoy, April 2014.

The Columbia River & Oregon Central Railway built a branch railroad from a junction with the Oregon Railway & Navigation (OR&N) at Arlington, Oregon on the Columbia River to Condon, Oregon, in Gilliam County in 1904 and 1905. It was 45 miles long. One year after opening it was leased to OR&N and it became part of James Harriman's Union Pacific Empire.

The railroad was dominated by grades as steep as 3.2% and served an agricultural area predominated by wheat production.


In 1927 Edward Wetmore built a 24-mile extension from Condon to Kinzua, in Wheeler County. Wetmore built this railroad to serve his newly established lumber mill there. The mill operated until 1976. During those years lumber shipment was a major part of traffic over the Condon Branch.

When the mill closed the tracks from Kinzua to Condon were removed. The demise of the Condon Branch was to follow in a few years. Rail service to Condon ended in 1992 and now the rails only extend 10 miles from Arlington to Gilliam. Gilliam is the site of a large landfill, primarily serving the Portland area.

For more information, see:

ROADS AND RAILS SOUTH FROM THE COLUMBIA, by John Due and Frances Rush, © 1991 Published by Maverick Publications, Inc., Bend, Oregon.