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Chelatchie Prairie Photo Freight 6/30/2007

by Chris Guenzler

Joe Harper, the excellent videographer of trains and a good friend, had placed a post on about a photo freight on the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad on June 30th, 2007. I had always wanted to ride this railroad so a check for $99 was sent in the mail. Updates from Joe via e-mail were sent. I had told Chris Parker about this so about a week before this trip he decided to go. Anton who was spending his summer in Chemult, Oregon then also decided to do the trip and would take the Coast Starlight to Portland to join us. Chris got a flight early that Friday morning and while he was in the air I changed the reservation on the Dollar Rental Car Reservation from my name to his so he could pick up the car. He would then pick me up at the Portland Airport at 10:50 PM that night.

Alaska Airline Flight 321 to Portland via Oakland 6/29/2007

My mother drove me down to Orange County Airport and it took me fifteen minutes to get through Security. I waited at Gate 13 doing Sudoku Puzzles and reading my copies of the Pacific Railroad Society "Wheel Clicks". I boarded the 737-700 aircraft at 6:50 PM taking Seat 21B. The plane took off at 7:23 PM and we had a bumpy landing at Oakland at 8:26 PM. We took off from Oakland into the night time sky at 9:19 PM and we landed at Portland at 10:32 PM. I called Chris and found him and Anton were not at the airport yet. Another call to tell my exact location and I got picked up at 11:21 PM. We drove to the Days Inn on 82nd Street got our rooms and called it a night.

6/30/2007 We met at the car at 6:00 AM and headed to Interstate 205 north to Washington 503 which we took north to Amboy then turned southeast to Yacolt where we parked the rental car for a unique day of railroading.

Chelatchie Prairie Photo Freight 6/30/2007

Our train taking water before starting our day of fun. The consist of our photo freight was the Crossett Western CO. 2-8-2 Saddletank 10, Tank Car 577 {ie water car} ex Southern Georgia later Longview, Portland and Northern {LPN}, Northern Pacific Box Car 207778, Hopper BYCX 555 ex LPN, BYCX 60 ex BN 976093 ex SP&S twelve berth sleeper Glen Shan, later a baggage then a BN MW wrecker train car and Caboose BYCX 10559 ex Northern Pacific.

Crossett Western Company 2-8-2 10.

Alco S3 1.

The two engines which will come into play with us today. I checked in, signed my release for the trip before purchasing the DVD "Chasing the Portland Rose Tour and the Puget Sound Steam Special" featuring steam engines UP 844 and SP 4449 that Joe Harper had filmed covering over 1400 Trackside Miles. I had some Maple Bars and bought a T-shirt form the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Gift Shop. At 7:50 AM we had a group meeting about the trip, safety and other things people needed to know about today. Joe introduced me to the group as having completed a million rail miles. We all then walked out in front of the station to set up for our first Photo Runby of the day.

The train came across the main road in Yacolt. We all then relocated to new locations for our next Photo Runby.

The backup move passed the Yacolt Station.

The Yacolt Station.

The train did the next Photo Runby.

The train did the back up move to position our train for loading. We all boarded the train with our group taking up one side of the cupola in the caboose.

On the move this morning a look back at the Yacolt Station.

A look back at Railroad Ave and the forest. The train took us down the rails to where the crew thought it was the location for our next Photo Runby.

The back up move.

We detrained to discover it was the wrong location so we did a bonus Photo Runby here. We all reboarded and the train then backed to the real Photo Runby location.

The train did the backup move.

The train did the Photo Runby. We all then reboarded the train and headed south to the Yacolt Creek Trestle for our next Photo Runby.

Our engine backing up across the Yacolt Creek Bridge.

The train backed up for the next Photo Runby.

The train did the Photo Runby at the Yacolt Creek Trestle. We then all reboarded the train and headed to our next Photo Runby location at the South Portal of the only tunnel on this railroad.

About to exit the 330 foot tunnel on this railroad. Once clear of the tunnel we came to a stop to unload the train for a static shot.

The train was backing up into position for the static shot.

The Static Shot at the south portal of the tunnel.

The East Fork of the Lewis River far below us at this point. We reboarded once more and headed to the bridge across the East Fork of the Lewis River out next Photo Runby location of the morning. Once we arrived here the lighting was all wrong. It was decided to proceed with the Photo Runby then take the train back to Yacolt to wye the engine and rearrange the cars so that the engine would be on the north end of the train for the rest of the day.

The train did a Photo Runby. I decided to try to see just high this bridge was so I walked down the highway then cut through the trees but the train backed up before I could get through the trees and vines.

We all returned to the train for the return trip to Yacolt.

The train entered the South Portal of the 330 foot tunnel.

The train exited the North Portal of the tunnel.

The train then exited the deep cut that leads to the tunnel.

Another view as we back towards Yacolt. Back at Yacolt we were given the option of staying on the train which I did. The steam engine cut off to go be watered and the S3 started to rearrange our train set.

Our steam engine at rest.

We were now spotting the freight cars on the station siding.

Passing the station, I called Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio Show that airs every Saturday 10 AM Pacific Time or 24/7 in their archives and gave a very interesting report about this trip.

An interesting picture.

The rest of the train had been spotted and now we would be taken back to the mainline to be the last car on the train.

The S3 then cut off of the caboose before it put back together the rest of our train. The steam engine was coupled up and we headed back south to the bridge for more Photo Runbys. We returned to the East Fork of the Lewis River Bridge for the next Photo Runbys.

The view of the North Portal of the tunnel.

About to exit the South Portal of the tunnel.

Passing a rock outcropping. We returned to the East Fork of the Lewis River Bridge for the next Photo Runbys.

The East Fork of the Lewis River Bridge.

The train did the Photo Runby from below the bridge. I relocated back up the grade crossing.

The back up move.

We reboarded our train and returned to East Portal for our next photo runbys.

Our train did the next Photo Runby.

The Photo Runby looking from below. We all then reboarded and the train took us back to Yacolt for lunch. At lunch at the Red Fir Restaurant which was a bar the under 21 crowd could not eat inside. Chris and I decided to join Anton and our new friends for an excellent pork and chicken lunch outside on a beautiful day. We all were enjoying lunch.

Enjoying lunch.

The whole group of us after a cell phone ring tone story was shared and a good laugh was had by all. After that I walked back to the train.

Click here for the rest of this unique trip!