I started to hear rumors about Oregon running a special train from Portland to Astoria for the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's trek to the Pacific Ocean. Jim Novell sent me an E-mail advising me that it would be a go. Amtrak's Spring/Summer new timetable had a schedule for trains 998 and 999. They were all set to run the train with my old friends, the ex BC Rail RDC's until Amtrak had to back out of operating this special service as it was considered "new service" which they were not allowed to start any new service until 2004. The Portland and Western which operates trains over this ex Spokane Portland & Seattle built line spun off by the Burlington Northern a few years ago back in July of 1997. They would operate the train but from Lintton with a bus connection from Union Station. In my researching for this trip I learned that Astoria now has a Waterfront Trolley so I could put that in my story. I talked to Steve at Trainweb about sending me to write about the trip to Astoria and he agreed if we could get me up there for under $300. Amtrak wanted $268 for coach but I would be bused from Eugene to Klamath Falls on the return which I wanted to avoid. I could not get Orbitz to work in the Trainweb Offices so Shivam went on Travelocity getting me a round trip airfare on Alaska for $214 plus I would earn Alaska Airline miles on the trip. Karen made my reservation for the trip as Amtrak was still booking it and I paid for it at Santa Ana. A call to the Mark Spencer Hotel in Portland got me a room for the two nights needed and I got my boarding pass on-line earning a 1,000 Alaska Airline Miles for doing it that way, so now I was all set.Alaska Airline Flight 577 6/14/2003
I was up early at 4:30 AM to prepare me for my flight to Portland. After the usual domestic duties, Bill showed up right on time to assist with a computer problem before he drove me to the airport. I breezed through security and waited for my flight. They boarded the plane at 6:15 AM and at 6:37 AM we backed away from the gate and sat out on the tarmac for fifteen minutes being first in line for takeoff with all the other departing planes lined up behind us. At 7:00 AM we took off steeply climbing through the marine layer which had hidden the sun from Santa Ana for over a week and headed north cruising at 39,000 feet. This flight was the first of four airplane rides this Summer to get me to the trains I would be riding as I face time constraints barring me from taking the train as normal. Mt Lassen and Mt Shasta were the two most beautiful mountains seen this morning. I got up to use the bathroom at the right time as the right side of the plane viewed Crater Lake. It was a quick and enjoyable flight and we landed right on time in Portland.Portland 6/14/2003
I had no problems finding the MAX Light Rail Line at the airport which took me to the Pioneer Square Station in downtown in 35 minutes. Riding along the Union Pacific line reminded me of my good old days on Amtrak's Pioneer riding on those tracks. Once in downtown, I walked the three blocks to the Mark Spencer Hotel, the excellent establishment, where I would be spending the next two nights. Once in my room, I called Lets Talk Trains, that fabulous Internet Radio Talk Show which I had been a guest on many times. I took a walk shooting a few pictures of the Downtown Streetcars on my way to Union Station to learn where the bus for Linnton and my train departs from tomorrow morning. I walked south down Fifth Street finding a Carls Junior for an early lunch before I walked a block to a bus shelter to catch the 17 Bus over to 17th and Center across the Willamette River. I boarded the bus and had no problems in getting to my first destination of the day.Brooklyn Roundhouse 6/14/2003
About five minutes after debussing, Chris Fussell, the owner of the Amtrak F-40PH 231, showed up on his bicycle which he parked across the street at the Tri Met Offices. We walked over to the former Southern Pacific Brooklyn Roundhouse.
I first saw my old friend the 231 sitting next to a FA-1 866 in primer soon to be repainted into the Spokane Portland & Seattle paint scheme.
Behind the 231 was sitting Doyle McCormick's Nickel Plate RSD-5 324.
On one of the turntable leads was Great Northern F7-A 274 in perfect light. Following pictures of the diesels, Chris took me inside the cab of the 231, an engine I had ridden in many times which brought back a flood of memories. I also met Chris' mother who was working at masking the cab to be repainted. Next Chris gave me a tour of the roundhouse.
I met for the first time the Spokane Seattle & Portland 4-8-4 700 which we then went into its beautiful cab.
After that we went into my old dear friend Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 still wearing the American Freedom Train paint scheme it has worn since right after 9/11.
Also here is the PA-1 which Doyle McCormick has repainted into Nickel Plate 190. The Oregon Railroad and Navigation 4-6-2 197 which later became the Union Pacific 3207 with the engine inside the roundhouse and the tender being worked on outside. Chris left me alone to shot all the pictures I wanted. Outside there were a few passenger cars and the Let's Roll Tender, the AT&SF 3751 used last summer on the trip to the Grand Canyon. Once I had finished, I found Chris and thanked him for the wonderful Brooklyn Roundhouse experience before I walked back to the bus stop to begin another rail adventure.Willamette Shore Trolley 6/14/2003
The bus took me across the Ross Island Bridge and dropped me off at the first stop. I walked down the steep hill finding the tracks and off to the right was the Sheridan Street Station which is a flag stop. As soon as I got there, Blackpool 48 from England arrived which was built in 1902 as an open two level car being pulled by a six cylinder gasoline powered GMC motor since there are no overhead wires on this line. I boarded and we climbed the short steep hill to the end of the line at River Place Station. I detrained for pictures before I purchased a round trip ticket to Lake Oswego.
I rode in the front of the upper deck to not only enjoy the forward view but to photograph the line as well. We left heading back to Sheridan Street Station after we had passed under the Marquam Bridge. Minutes later we crossed underneath the Ross Island Bridge before we ran down the middle of Moody Street where we returned to a private right away at Beaucroft Street. The Trolley ran by the River Forum where we started to get river views. We passed between the condos before we ran across a curved trestle. A wig wag protected the entrance to Willamette Park with another wig wag located at MP 771.10. The trees covered the tracks creating a tunneling effect which was really enjoyable to pass through. The trolley ducked under the Sellwood Bridge and climbed up on a ledge on a grade of .84 % 30 feet then up to 40 feet above the Willamette River. We ran by the nice homes in Riverwood and across the river was Powers Marine Park.
The trolley crossed a long curved trestle along the face of a rock cliff above the Willamette River.
The trolley passed the final wig wag at a private driveway.
We plunged into the 22 foot high 1,386 foot curved Elk Rock Tunnel. The trolley ran by a few more really nice homes before we entered the town of Lake Oswego. We passed the two car Car Barn before we arrived at the Lake Oswego platform.
I detrained, walked over to the depot building for some postcards and a view of Lake Oswego.
On the return trip we paused at the tunnel entrance for a history lesson. The line built in 1887 by the Portland and Willamette Valley Railway as a narrow gauge line and in 1892 the line was in full control of the Southern Pacific then standard gauged. In 1895 the third rail was removed and it was sold to the Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad. In 1912 the line was electrified and "Red Electric" was in operation. Because of falling rock along Elk Rock cliff it was decided a tunnel would be built and on December 5, 1921 electric train 301 was the first train through the new tunnel. The last electric operations occurred on October 5, 1929. The freight operation continued until 1984 when the line north of Wilsonia was abandoned. The Oregon Electric Railway Society now operates the line on weekends. I had a relaxing ride back over the 6.67 mile route to Portland's River Place Station
Once back at River Place, I thanked the operator before I walked up the hill and the five blocks to the Downtown Trolley which I took back to the hotel. I went out to get a roast beef sandwich and some Coca-Cola before I returned to my room to rest. That was until the hall became very noisy so I decided to visit the railroad section at Powell's Book before making a round trip on the Downtown Streetcar. I returned to my room for the rest of the night.Lewis and Clark Explorer 998 6/15/2003
Up early with anticipation of today's train ride and all that new mileage, I prepared myself for the day and headed down stairs for a continental breakfast. It was a beautiful clear morning as I walked down to Portland Union Station to wait for the shuttle bus to Linnton. All the passengers who did not drive out to the train were waiting out in front of the station until a single bus pulled up over at the Max bus station across the street and the driver came over to get us.
Problem was there were two busloads of people all trying to get on the one bus. We filled Bus 1 before a second bus showed up to take the rest. The bus drove us out to Lintton and where I saw my old friends the ex BC Rail RDC's 31, 11 and 10. I boarded the rear RDC finding Aaron Hockley and Drew Mitchen of Trainorders.com fame who would be joining me on this trip who saved me a riverside seat. I detrained for a few pictures before reboarding to wait for departure time.
Right at 8:00 AM the RDC's backed out onto the mainline passing the stored passenger cars kept here. The Car Attendants serve you at your seat any food service purchased by the passengers. A 32 page Lewis & Clark Explorer Train Journal is passed out to every rider on the trip. We ran along a branch of the Willamette River to our east as it empties into the Columbia River near Scappoose. US Highway 30 will follow our route to Astoria right next to us at times and at others far out of sight. We went through United Junction where the line to Hillsboro splits off from our line to Astoria. We passed through the communities of Burlington and Holbrook. Dave Mountain was to our west and a fresh water lake off to our east. The RDC's next passed the Rocky Point Marina before we took Prince William Bend. The train ran through Scappoose which is a Multnomah Indian word for gravelly plain. We passed through Warren and McNulty before we proceeded through St Helens whose train station still stands although it is used for another purpose today. The train ran through Columbia City where the Columbia River came into view before we reached Waterview on the railroad with a large lumber mill. We ran along a section a natural unaltered by man forest probably what Lewis and Clark went through on their journey back in 1805 and 1806.
We ran by Deer Island before reaching the Columbia River shore again at Goble. Next we passed the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant which was decommissioned back in 1990 after 20 years of providing electrical power to a part of the Pacific Northwest.
We slowly made our way down the street in Rainier then passed under the Rainier-Longview Bridge.There are islands out in the Columbia River on our way to Astoria and here we passed Lord and Walker Islands. The RDC's went clickety clack over the jointed rails on our route. The line now became really scenic as we ran on a ledge beneath a cliff and through a few rock cuts right along the river.
We plunged into the rock cut 184 foot tunnel at MP 54.6. After another mile of running right along the cliffs along the Columbia River the valley opened up and our speed increased with farming taking place on the wide flood plain. We made our way to Mayger before passing Grime Island out in the river.
Further on we ran through Clatskanie before we reached the drawbridge over the Clatskanie River MP 62.7. I enjoyed a cinnamon roll which I say is a must for anyone who takes the train trip. I went to use the bathroom finding the BC Rail signs still on all of the bathroom doors on our train.
The Lewis and Clark Explorer continued west passing by Marshland on its way to Westport. At Wauna we ran by the large Georgia Pacific Plant which is the furthest west shipper on the railroad. Off in the Columbia River were Puget and Tenasillahe Island before the train continued to Clifton before rounding Aldridge Point. The floodplain opened up again before Brownsmead and we reached the drawbridge at Blind Slough at MP 84.8. At Knappa at a grade crossing there was an operating wig wag there. We returned to the sloughs with the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge out on the islands in the Columbia River like Horseshoe, March and Karken Islands. The train ran through Sevson with its large houseboat population then beneath Fern Hill prior to running along Cathlament Bay. We ran to the John Day Drawbridge at MP 94.8 with a section crew waiting for our train to pass so they could get back to work.
The Columbia River is getting wider and wider as we near the mouth with the Pacific Ocean.
The Lewis and Clark Explorer made the way to Tongue Point and after rounding it Astoria and the four mile long Highway 101 Bridge came into view.
We passed the Astoria Waterfront on our way to our final stop at the boarded up old Spokane Portland & Seattle train station.Astoria 6/15/2003
This was not my first visit to Astoria. I first passed through here in our Family camper in 1973.
I photographed a Northern Pacific painted RS-11 4186.
Great Northern painted GP-9 1784.
The next in year in 1974 I shot a picture of the Spokane Portland & Seattle RS-3 4064. After pictures of the Lewis and Clark Explorer in front of the SP&S Depot, we went in search of lunch selecting the Silver Salmon Restaurant, who also caters the dinner service on the train trip back to Portland. Aaron and I had the London Broil and Drew had the Fish and Chips. All meals were excellent. We walked down to the waterfront for our next rail adventure.Astoria Waterfront Trolley 6/15/2003
The three of us boarded the Astoria Waterfront Trolley Car 300, a beautifully restored 1913 car built by the American Car Company in St Louis for the San Antonio Traction Company in Texas which is powered by a power car out in front of the east end of the car. Astoria obtained the car on a long term lease from San Antonio Museum of Art in exchange for a promise to restore the battered streetcar which had wood rot, peeling paint, dangling wires and was in a state of general disrepair. The operator which is all volunteers restored the car over the winter of 1996 and operator it throughout the summer in good weather and the rest of the year on weekends. During heavy rains the trolley does not operate.
We rode out to the west end where I will give you the lines highlights as we head east. At the farthest west point on the line is the car barn. The most west stop is at the Red Lion Inn and the West End Mooring Basin for pleasure and sport fishing boats. Heading east we passed the rubble strewn dock of the old Union Fisherman's Cooperative Packing Co. We next ran behind Suomi Hall and the old Finnish Meat Market now the home of the Astoria Street Opry Company which puts on melodramas. We went under the 4.21 mile long Astoria Bridge opened in 1966 as the longest continuous truss span bridge in the world. It was featured in the 1986 movie "Short Circuit". Under the bridge is Maritime Memorial Park dedicated to people you lost their lives in either the Columbia River or the Pacific Ocean. Next we ran by the site of the original Elmore Cannery which later belonged to Bubble Bee Seafood and was closed down in 1980. The Astoria Warehousing was the site of the American Can Company which supplied all the cans for Bubble Bee. There a large object in the river which was the cannery boiler is all that remains of the White Star Cannery which burned down fifty years ago. The Columbia House was passed next and was Astoria's first condominium built out over the water. The red brick building on the south was the Astoria Wharf and Warehouse and was nicknamed the "Bonded House" but was never used by US Customs. The next point of interest was the Kinney Cannery building which was built in 1876 and was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1989. The Kinney Box Factory built in 1908 is now an office building with a bakery and shops. At Sixth Street there is a viewing platform and dock which locals fish off of. The 1906 building next was the Elmore Dock and now hoses the Bornstein's Seafood. That brought the trolley to the foot of Ninth Street where the 1945 Sebastian-Stewart Fish Company building now is the Astoria Holding Co. which operates a sardine plant here. Up on 12th Street the Astoria Sunday Market was in high swing. Of course all of downtown and all the views on the hill can be seen all the way along the Astoria Waterfront Trolley's route. 14th Street was the site of the George Hume Cannery and another river front park where part of the movie "Free Willy" was filmed. We ran along the water to the Columbia River Museum and the 17th Street Dock home to the two Coast Guard Cutters, the Alert and Steadfast and a retired Lightship Columbia. We next ran by the old SP&S train station built in 1924 and the Lewis and Clark Explorer laying over for the afternoon. Up on the top of the hill is the Astoria Column built in 1926 to commemorate the westward sweep and discovery. Ralph Budd the president of the Great Northern and the Astor Family financially supported the Astoria Column. Visitors can climb the 164 steps to the top of the column and get a spectacular 360-degree view. Back down to the rails we traveled by the mill pond all that is left of the Astoria Plywood Mill. Further on at 36th Street over against the hill is the Astor School used in the movie "Kindergarten Cop" and the Goonies House used in the movie "The Goonies". Other movies filmed besides those already mentioned in Astoria are "Benjii, the Hunted", "Short Circuit", "Come See the Paradise" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". We ran on east to the East Side Mooring Basin the end of the run for the Waterfront Trolley. Here the passengers flip the seats over and the operator and narrator switch ends before it heads west for another run. We rode to where we had first boarded and detrolleyed after a very fun and educational experience round trip on the Astoria Waterfront Trolley.
We walked over to the Maritime Museum so I could get some more postcards before returning to the depot for some more RDC pictures as well as one of the Waterfront Trolley passing the Lewis and Clark Explorer. We walked east to the mill pond to catch a picture of the Waterfront Trolley there prior to going back to an ice cream shop where I enjoyed my first Root Beer Float ice cream cone. While we were there I took a picture of the trolley with the water in front of the dock.
The last picture of the Waterfront Trolley was taken as it ran by our RDC's as people were returning to board for the trip back towards Portland.
We left on time with Aaron joining me at my seat for the trip back which allowed both of us to get to know each other better. I photographed all the way back at the key locations and went up front for the John Dey River Drawbridge and for the tunnel along with the running right after it. We both enjoyed a hot dog for dinner. The only minor drawback in the whole trip was a minor air conditioner problem. We knew we had a real problem when they brought out the manual. Sometimes the manual can be a useful tool but this time just opening the lead RDC's doors was enough to cool off the Railcar.
Mt St Helens came into view as did Mt Hood later on in the trip back.
It had been a great day of train riding with Aaron and Drew but all good things have to come to an end and we arrived back at Linnton thirty minutes early. The shuttle buses were waiting and after one last picture of the Lewis and Clark Explorer I boarded the bus back to Portland. The nice bus driver dropped me off at 11th Street which made my walk to the hotel a mere five blocks from my place of staying in Portland instead of walking all the way back from Portland Union Station. I called home to my mother before I called it a night.
6/16/2003 Sleeping in late and following a continental breakfast I prepared myself for the day then watched TV Land until I checked out. I walked the three blocks to the Max Light Rail Stop and waited for a trolley to the airport. I got my boarding pass out of an Alaska Airlines Machine using only my mileage number and I earned another 1,000 points for using it. Going through security my extra car keys in my wallet, which I always keep with me to prevent lock outs, set off the detector. I was taken over to a secondary security area where I was wanded but at least I got to keep my shoes on. I went to the Stump Town Bar and Grill for some Buffalo Chicken Wings for lunch. I followed that up with a Cookie Dough and Chips ice cream Cone as I enjoyed the view to the north of the airport before I went to gate C-11 to wait for my flight.Alaska Airline Flight 348 6/16/2003
The flight was delayed from a 2:30 PM to a 2:50 PM flight which would be making a stop in Oakland on its way to Orange County. I took my window seat on the 737-400 at 2:36 PM and we left fourteen minutes later.
I photographed Mt Shasta and the looking down at Pinole and the Carquinez Straits as we started our descent. We were gated at Oakland at 4:25 PM, the plane was cleaned and we left Oakland at 4:55 PM. We flew out over San Francisco Airport then out over the Pacific Ocean before we banked south running down the California Coast. We arrived at the gate at Orange County at 6:15 PM where I was picked up by my mother and we went to dinner at Coco's before heading to home ending a unique trip to Portland and my ride on the Lewis and Clark Explorer.