Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mill Closing

Union Pacific's Hinkle to Roseville freight train passing the Blue Heron paper mill in Oregon City.

(Written on March 23.) I emerged sooner than expected from my hiatus to document the final days of operations at the Blue Heron paper mill in Oregon City. Its closure was announced on this day, with the final shift scheduled for Friday, only two days hence. The mill had been in bankruptcy since 2009 and its future was always on shaky ground, but I never expected its closure to happen so quickly. Most mills give 60 days notice, as was the case with the International Paper company mill in Millersburg that closed in December 2009. 

I first heard the news of Blue Heron from one of the email list serves that covers railroad operations in the area. The subject line was simply "Another Mill Closing," and I never expected it meant the Blue Heron mill. A flurry of activity followed this afternoon, and within an hour I had received closure announcements from no less than four different sources. Thanks to the unusually cold weather, the mill went out with stacks blazing towering columns of steam into the winter sky, seen here on its second-to-last nigh of operation as the QHKRV hustles by on the main line. 

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