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Oregon Pacific Railroad Trip 10/10/2020

by Chris Guenzler

We slept in and went to the Cousins Restaurant for a late breakfast where I had French Toast and bacon and Elizabeth had Cinnamon French Toast. I drove Interstate 84 to our first stop at Hood River.

The Hood River Union Pacific station.

The Mount Hood Railroad's dinner train consist. From here we took Interstate 84 to US 30 and took the way to get to the waterfalls.

Horsetail Falls. We drove the rest of the way into Portland and parked in the Oregon Rail Heritage Center's parking lot opposite their facility.

The Mount Hood Brewing Company has coach 1991 and Northern Pacific caboose 1735 as part of their restaurant and bar.

Union Pacific SW10 96, donated in 2016, as their shop switcher.

Union Pacific caboose 25198.

Great Northern sleeper-lounge 600 "Mount Hood".

Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

Portland Streetcar B Line train on the Tillkum bridge.

Our train came in from the south so I took a picture of it before we went to board it.

Oregon Pacific Railroad History

Dick Samuels, a local businessman owning a scrap steel business, purchased the rights to salvage the remnants of the Portland Traction Company's remaining freight railroad between Portland and Boring. The Portland Terminal Railroad was once an interurban railroad but had been owned 50/50 by the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads since the mid-1950s to handle the remaining freight business along the road. By the mid-1980s the remaining freight business east of Milwaukie was virtually gone as local land uses shifted from farming and industrial to housing. Some of the last shipments along the railroad were TriMet's first light rail cars, delivered to its Ruby Junction shops, which were located on a former Portland Traction Company branch line that had been abandoned years before.

Despite the loss of most business, there was still a handful of shippers that continued to reliably ship by train from an industrial park located in the northern part of Milwaukie along the Portl and city boundary. Mr. Samuels purchased the approximately five miles of track from Portland to Milwaukie and formed the East Portland Traction Company to continue rail service to those customers. The customers included Americold, Darigold and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

In 1993, the East Portland Traction Company began running an excursion train known as Samtrak (named after the owner as well as a play on Amtrak, the national passenger railroad company) from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to Portland's Sellwood neighborhood. The train itself was modest with a small General Electric 45-ton locomotive, an open-air coach made from an old flatcar and a converted former logging railroad caboose. Although the excursion trains stopped running in 2001, the Oregon Pacific Railroad continues to host special excursions featuring the popular Holiday Express trains using Southern Pacific 4449 and Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700 restored steam locomotives, as well as several speeder runs every year.

Also in 1993, the Oregon Pacific leased the Southern Pacific's Molalla Branch connecting Canby with Molalla. This approximately 10-mile route serves several shippers within Canby as well as in the small community of Liberal. However, several miles of track from Liberal into Molalla were abandoned after the loss of all shippers in the town. This operation was originally known as the Molalla Western Railway.

In 1996, both railroads were officially merged into the Oregon Pacific Railroad with the East Portland Traction Company becoming the East Portland Division and the Molalla Western Railway becoming the Molalla Branch Division.

As of 2012, the Oregon Pacific continues to operate its two railroads to provide freight service to its shippers. It also allows organizations or private individuals to charter a train, has operated trains featured in at least one movie and several television shows, and operates the popular Christmas time Holiday Express trains.

Our Trip

One waits for the trip out in front of the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

This is the building you walk around to get to the train. On the way, there are things to see and to photograph.

Nickel Plate RSD-5 324 formerly Utah Railroad.

Former New York Central Pullman sleeper "Gregory Kamholtz", named for a long-time supporter and volunteer with the SP&S 700 organization.

Great Northern Empire Builder coach 1210 "Plum Creek".

Southern Pacific 10-6 Sleeper 9016 Magnolia Grove. We walked around the building and at the gate, there was Dick Samuels. Since we were wearing masks, he asked if we wanted a cab ride in the engine which we both said- "yes" to. I want to thank Dick for giving this opportunity to Elizabeth and I. We walked down to take pictures of the front end of the train.

Our train before we boarded the engine for the trip down the tracks.

The controls of Oregon Pacific GMD-1 1413, formerly Canadian National 1045. This was a first for both of us to be in the cab of a GMD-1.

In the locomotive, this was hung in the foreward window sill. Our engineer for today's trip was Forrest LeCain.

The trip south down to Oaks Park where once the three steam engines that call the Oregon Rail Heritage Center home once resided.

The north back to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

Before we departed the cab, Forrest took a picture of Elizabeth and I not wearing masks, the only time we did so on the whole trip. We thanked him for the excellent trip and all of the information he shared with us. He was amazed at all of my travels and mileage. After a great trip, I decided we should get a picture of the next train departing.

The train heading south on its 2:00 PM departure. Next Elizabeth needed a new camera battery and we went to Fred Meyer and Walmart, neither of which had any in stock.

Back to The Dalles

We made our way to Interstate 205 which led us to Interstate 84 which we took east to our next stop in Troutdale where I would shoot a picture of a Union Pacific train following us.

A Union Pacific freight train at Troutdale.

An unknown silver box car.

The Troutdale Union Pacific station.

Museum scene.

Union Pacific caboose 25748 with my favorite Union Pacific slogan on it.

Troutdale history sign. We headed east on Interstate 84 to the rest area in the middle of the freeway and walked underneath it to Multnomah Falls.

I caught a Union Pacific freight train passing in front of Multnomah Falls.

The middle DPUs of that Union Pacific train we had caught earlier at Troutdale.

Multnomah Falls.

Elizabeth and Multnomah Falls.

The mileage marker on the railroad bridge.

The US 30 concrete arch bridge.

One last view of Multnomah Falls. In all my miles of driving rental cars, it finally happened. The low fuel light came on and not knowing how much fuel I had left, but the car said I had 12 miles left, I hoped we could get to Cascade Locks and a service station to fill up. We barely made it and put in $20 worth of gas into the car which should be enough to return the car tomorrow. From there, we drove down to the Cascade Locks Park where I wanted to show Elizabeth the steam engine in its display case.

Oregon Portage 0-4-0T named the Oregon Pony, the first steam locomotive in the State of Oregon.

The Oregon Pony sign. We then walked down to look at the locks.

The Cascade Locks on the Columbia River. From here we crossed the Bridge of the Gods and paid a $2 toll then went to Stevenson, Washington on Elizabeth's next stop of the Columbia River Gorge.

The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center.

A smaller version of a Bucyrus Erie crane I saw in Wyoming.

The cab of Spokane, Portland and Seattle F9A 802.

Spokane, Portland and Seattle F9A 802.

Spokane, Portland and Seattle caboose 701.

Elizabeth and the Spokane, Portland and Seattle caboose 701. We then drove through heavy rain shower and made our way to Bingen-White Salmon to the station there.

The Bingen-White Salmon Spokane, Portland and Seattle station now owned by BNSF. Amtrak has a shelter and a platform for their stop on the Empire Builder Portland section that we rode two days earlier. From here, Elizabeth needed a rest area and I saw a train off in the distance so I dropped her off and went to chase it. I drove about three miles before finding a semi-decent photo spot.

BNSF 291 West crossing Lake Ralston. I picked up Elizabeth and we drove east to US 197 and crossed the Columbia River back into Oregon and headed to the Dalles Dam Visitors Centre, which was closed due to Covid-19.

The bridge we crossed the Columbia River on.

A stopped Union Pacific westbound train gets passed by an eastbound Union Pacific train with a pair of Canadian Pacific units behind the lead UP unit.

The outtake valve of The Dalles Dam.

A fabulous scene looking east.

The Dalles Dam.

Elizabeth and the Dalles Dam.

The old bridge of the former Dalles Dam Railroad that I had the opportunity to ride when I was a child.

Union Pacific 8178 West waits at The Dalles siding.

Union Pacific 7367 West with DPU 8026 at the Webber Road crossing in The Dalles. We went to KFC to get dinner and they told Elizabeth that the chicken pot pie that she likes is discontinued until December 1st. Funny thing though, she had one in Lebanon, Oregon two days ago. So she chose something else and we took it back to the room and had dinner and wrote this story and relaxed for the rest of the evening, our last night in this hotel before we take the train toward home tomorrow.