dba Pend Oreille Valley Railroad

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The original rail line between Metaline Falls and Newport, Washington was constructed during the years 1909 to 1911 by Fredrick Blackwell and was named the Idaho and Washington Northern (I&WN). In 1913, when Mr. Blackwell was unable to make the interest payments on his construction bonds due to a continued slump in the lumber market and a four-month delay in getting the cement plant operational, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad took over operating the I&WN for a period of two years. On January 25, 1916 the I&WN was sold at auction to the Milwaukee Road. The Milwaukee Road ran the railroad until 1979 when it declared it was no longer economically feasible to keep the line in operation. Rather than abandoning the line, the citizens of Pend Oreille County joined together and voted to create the Port of Pend Oreille to operate the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad (POVA). The Port of Pend Oreille was voted in without taxing authority. The sole purpose of the Port was to save the railroad and the two mills that were dependent upon it for rail service on the northern end of the line. These two companies were Lehigh Portland Cement Company at Metaline Falls and Louisiana Pacific Corporation at Ione, Washington. From 1979 until October 1984, the Port leased the rail line to Kyle Railways. In October 1984, the Port began operating the railroad five days per week from Metaline Falls to Newport and return. Economic times have since virtually closed the cement facility at Metaline Falls, on rare occasions the facility receives cement to store in its large capacity silos. The lumber plant at Ione (sold to Vaagen Brothers Lumber) battled its own economic struggles for many years and Vaagen Brothers also closed its doors and completely dismantled the lumber mill. The remaining shipper on the line between Metaline Falls and Newport is located at Usk. Ponderay Newsprint Company ships newsprint and a few loads of chemicals per year by rail. Knowing that more shippers were needed for the railroad to survive, and being given an opportunity to add a small section of Burlington Northern Santa Fe track to its operations, the Port signed a 20-year lease agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in 1998 which took this small Port District’s railroad operations into the State of Idaho. POVA currently employs 15 full time employees, plus additional summer help for track maintenance as needed. POVA track crews provide all the track maintenance for the line. In the POVA shop, in addition to day-to-day railroad operations, crews rebuild locomotives not only for our own business but does so on a contract basis as well. In 2013 POVA added on to the maintenance shop. A 30-ton overhead crane and a locomotive paint booth were included in this construction. The Port of Pend Oreille is one of only a few Port District’s within Washington that does not collect a property tax. The main source of revenue for the Port is the operation of the railroad.

Meetings & Minutes


The Port of Pend Oreille Board of Commissioner meetings are scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month and begin at 9 a.m. at the Port office located at 1981 Black Road, Usk, WA. The public is invited to attend these meetings. Please contact the Port office at 445-1090 to verify current meeting dates and times. If you wish to be included on the agenda please contact Kelly Driver at least 24-hours in advance.

Applications & Notices

Forms & Applications

The following documents are available in PDF format for you to print, complete and fax to 509-445-1522 or mail to Port of Pend Oreille 1981 Black Road, Usk, WA.  99180:

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John W. Harkness, III

District 1

Mr. Harkness has served as a Port Commissioner since being appointed in 2005. Mr. Harkness retired from Carlson Sheet Metal in Spokane. Mr. Harkness has been involved in various Pend Oreille County activities and planning for many years. His years of community service combined with his years of service and experience in industry allow him to provide valuable insight to Port operations.


R.L. (Bob) Shanklin

District 2

Mr. Shanklin has served as a Port Commissioner since January 1, 2000. Mr. Shanklin retired in 1996 after having served 44 years in the railroad industry, including working for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific, The Seattle North Coast and the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad. He currently provides consulting services to various Short Line Railroads, making bridge inspections and training railroad personnel in how to carry out bridge repairs. Mr. Shanklin’s years of experience in the railroad industry as well as his involvement in other community boards and organizations is an asset to Port operations.


Van Whysong

District 3

Mr. Whysong is retired from the Selkirk School District where he was a teacher for 31 years. He currently serves as a Council member for both the Town of Metaline Falls and for the Metaline Falls Congregational Church. Additionally, Mr. Whysong is a member of the Cutter Theatre staff and serves on the Metaline Falls Volunteer Fire Department. Mr. Whysong’s years of commitment to the County, the community, and the Selkirk School District have provided him with an understanding of the needs of the north end of Pend Oreille County. This knowledge is very beneficial to the Port.


Kelly J. Driver — Manager

Kelly began working for the Port District in 1985 as the Port’s accountant and billing clerk for railroad operations. She was promoted to Office Manager in 2000 and then to Manager in 2004. Kelly is responsible for all aspects of railroad operations in conjunction with other staff as necessary, including HR services, Contracts and negotiations, Grant opportunities, business promotion, legal matters, Insurance coverage, Crossing agreements and more.

Clifford W. Bauer — Roadmaster

Cliff began working for Kyle Railways in 1979 as a track laborer. He became track foreman in 1984 when the Port District took over actual operation of the POVA line. Cliff was promoted to Roadmaster in 1985; he handles the railroad’s track maintenance for both the Washington and Idaho sections.

Brad Byrd — Chief Mechanical Officer

Brad began working for the Port District in 1998 as a mechanic in the POVA shop. He was promoted to CMO in 2005 and is in charge of shop projects and supply procurement. He is also in charge of shop contract labor and is the individual to contact for locomotive repair work.

Corey Ives — Car Repairs and Track Foreman

Corey began working for the Port in 1998 as a track laborer. Corey is now in charge of car repairs and is also the Track Foreman.

Brett Shults — Signal Maintainer

Brett began working for the Port District in 1999 as a mechanic in the POVA shop. In addition to being a member of our shop crew, Brett was promoted to signal maintainer in February 2005.

Susan Bluff — Financial Officer

Susan began working for the Port District in October 2000 as the Port’s accountant. Susan is in charge of Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Payroll, and she has taken over responsibility for billing train movements.