Map of Cow Creek Area
Riding with Rick:
CORP through
Cow Creek Canyon

Part 2
Hi Rail on the Track

Crossing at Union Creek
At Union Creek a logging road takes off from the main BLM road, first crossing Cow Creek and then CORP.  Rick busies himself testing the crossing apparatus and replacing several track and equipment batteries.
Slide Problem Area Parts of the Canyon have a history of instability and had caused problems with slides for the Southern Pacific.  The fresh dirt and rock in this picture is proof that CORP has had problems in recent winters too. 

In many places through the Canyon, there was evidence of rock which had fallen on or near the track.

Protected equipment for Detectors From the BLM road on the other side of Cow Creek these old box car doors were something of a mystery; perhaps the remains of a derailment.  But, it's soon apparent that they serve to block the view of the detector equipment at MP 522.3.  In this remote canyon vandals (I won't call them hunters -- REAL hunters don't shoot at safety equipment, grade crossing flashers and semaphores) often take shots at railroad property.
Equipment for Dragger/Hot Box Detector Behind the box car doors, from left to right we see a metal enclosure for two thermal generators, the equipment bungalow with the detector equipment inside, a large battery case and finally the propane tank with fuel for the generators.  This installation includes both a dragger and a hot box detector.
Case & Batteries at West Fork Crossing At West Fork Rick changes a set of "charging batteries" which are housed on the top shelf of the equipment case shown here.  On the middle two shelves are the relays which control the crossing lights.  On the bottom shelf are the permanent batteries that power the system.  The two sets of "charging batteries" are used, as their name implies, to recharge the main batteries and must be changed every 11 months.  Actually, alternate sets of these batteries are swapped out every 5 or 6 months to ensure at least one set will be able to keep the main batteries charged up.  With no public power supply for miles, these disposable batteries and regular changes are the only way to power crossing lights in the Canyon.
Track Battery in Vault Separate power sources are needed to energize the rails to create a track circuit for the train to shunt when it approaches.  A single "track battery" is shown housed in a concrete battery vault.  This particular battery provides the power in the circuit for the "island" right at the grade crossing.  Similar track battery installations are a few hundred feet in either direction to provide power for the train's axles to shunt and de-energize the relay activating the signals in advance of an approaching train.
Foundation for Water Tank at West Fork
Recent logging operations along CORP's track through Cow Creek Canyon revealed the footings (circled in red) for the old water tank at West Fork. The spout for this tank as well as the West Fork Station are pictured on p. 262 of The Southern Pacific in Oregon by Ed Austin and Tom Dill. 

West Fork was once the end of the helper district from Grants Pass and even boasted a turntable pictured on p. 156 of The Southern Pacific in Oregon Pictorial also by Ed Austin and Tom Dill.

Continue the Ride in Part 3 Click on the picture to the left to finish the ride as Rick completes his work and we explore 6 tunnels before returning to civilization in Glendale.
All Images and Text Copyright (C) 2000 by Larry Tuttle
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