WHITE CITY — There's a new name to go with a new game plan for a tiny railroad that until recently was a speck on the Berkshire Hathaway balance sheet.
Scott DeVries said he knew a name change was needed when he tried an Internet search for "WCTU Railway," but got something entirely different in the results.
"If you Google it, the first thing that comes up is the Women's Christian Temperance Union — it's still an active organization," said DeVries, who acquired the railway that includes 14 miles of sidings, spurs, switching leads and two yards in a 2-square-mile area in White City. "Very few people knew what the WCTU stood for, including most of our customers. I knew there was a marketing problem I wanted to address."
For the record, WCTU stood for White City Terminal and Utility Railway. As of this month, however the name has been changed to Rogue Valley Terminal Railroad Corp and its holding company renamed to CCT Rail System Corp.
DeVries, who will move to the Rogue Valley in August from his home in Superior, Wis., has worked as an engineer for the Canadian National Railway.
DeVries acquired the small Oregon rail operation in late 2012 after the federal Surface Transportation Board required Marmon Transportation Services, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway, to divest itself of two shortlines by Dec. 31.
He said thus far he's benefited from increased demand for building materials, bumping up activity in recent months.
"Normally, we're seeing cars move four or five days a week," DeVries said. "Building materials in Oregon — and pretty much throughout the Northwest — has seen an uptick in the past couple of years. There were times in the past couple of years where it was down to two or three days a week because of lower traffic levels."
DeVries is courting new customers and plans to develop a reloading facility to draw clients who haven't necessarily considered rail.
"Businesses in the greater-Medford area will have a place to put on or off for shipment across the country," he said.
DeVries had to get past one last hurdle before pushing forward. On the final day of 2012, a protest letter was sent to the Surface Transportation Board by Matthew Winters of "Citizens for Equitable Enforcement of 49 U.S.C. 11323" alleging DeVries was merely a front man for another organization and was simply going to sell to a third party. DeVries said he responded, detailing his sole ownership of the line and his intent to operate the railway well into the future.
The code referenced — U.S.C. 11323 — regulates ownership of transportation carriers.
"I talked to numerous railroad industry people and nobody had ever heard of him or the organization," DeVries said.
He chalked it up to the efforts of a spurned suitor.
"Basically, they were making accusations with no supporting evidence," he said. "Whatever their motivation, I don't expect further follow-up. I've explained to the STB who I am and how I got into it."