A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A home base for rail maintenance work

Written January 10th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

At the end of the workday, Union Pacific crew members talk in the Expo parking lot on Tuesday.

Once again, a reader’s question sent me on a little ride to see for myself what he was asking about.

“Hey,” the email began, “just wandering if you know what’s going on at the Linn County fairgrounds with all the railroad equipment set up there. It looks like they have a camp set up there with lots of trailers and more vehicles showing up daily. Some of the trailers there look like the shower trailers we had at fire camps and the rest of what it takes to keep a crew going for a big project.”

That, it turns out, is almost exactly what it is, as I learned from the county and then when I took that ride on Tuesday afternoon.

The temporary camp is home base for about 100 men in a Union Pacific track maintenance crew.

They are working on the company’s line from 10 miles south of Albany going north to Oregon City, inspecting and maintaining cross ties and other parts of the railbed.

The guys I talked to weren’t specific about how long this work would take, but when I suggested several months they didn’t disagree.

The camp is set up on the gravel portion on the east side of the parking lot at the Fair & Expo Center. It leaves plenty of room for parking on the paved section for functions at the Expo Center.

Kris Barnes, the new Linn County Fair & Expo manager, sent word that the Union Pacific has used the parking lot annually for several years. This time it rented the lot until Feb. 13. The county charged the railroad $2,625.

So, thanks for the question. It got me out on the bike despite the off-and-on rain. (hh)

The story has been edited to add the amount the county charged the railroad for use of the parking lot.

The gravel portion of the Expo lot holds railroad trailers and crew members’ personal vehicles.


The sign tells people to whom the trailer belongs.

3 responses to “A home base for rail maintenance work”

  1. Cap B. says:

    Interesting, Hasso. Thanks for all your articles. We don’t get your great coverage of local news from the local newspaper. That’s for sure.

  2. Brad Dennis says:

    Is this why there is continual train horn honking every night around 11 pm? It goes on for quite a few minutes.

  3. Costs money to have a job says:

    Why are they being charged to camp there when the “homeless” set up there trailers for weeks at a time in the same location?


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