The Tillamook District includes part of one of Oregon’s first rail lines. In 1867, the Oregon Central Railroad Company had been incorporated to build a line toward Forest Grove and McMinnville, a route requiring heavy construction through the hills west of Portland. After a number of physical and financial problems, the first 20 miles from Portland to Hillsboro were completed December 18, 1871. Today, P&W’s track from Lombard Street crossing in Beaverton to Hillsboro is part of the old Oregon Central.
The Northern Pacific Railway Company, which included track that is now part of the Portland & Western Railroad, contracted with the Harlan and Hollingsworth Company to build what was called the “Iron Steam Transfer Boat” for $40,000. The mighty Tacoma, built to transpor steam trains across the Columbia River, was built in Delaware but disassembled, boxed and shipped off to Oregon. The Train Ferry was then delivered in 57,179 pieces and reassembled in the summer of 1883 at Smith Bros. and Watson in Portland, Oregon, taking the mark as the second largest ferry in the world.
The Astoria Line between Willbridge and Goble–35 miles–is of historic significance, having been first operated by Northern Pacific Railroad Company, October 1884, as part of its route between Portland and Tacoma. A ferry carried cars and locomotives across the Columbia River between Goble and Kalama until June 25, 1908, when massive new bridges opened across the Columbia and Willamette Rivers to link Vancouver, Washington and Portland. Trackage along the Washington side of the Columbia then became the main rail route between Portland and Puget Sound, and the Goble-Willbridge line, which had been extended to Astoria in 1898, was relegated to branch line status.