Last week I was editing an image of the Daylight for an upcoming project. While I worked on it my mind wandered to the locomotive and how far it and its Portland based sisters have come. All three have gone from work a day locomotives to retirement (and possible scrapping) to restored to operating (well, almost for the 197). Now, in just a matter of weeks their new, permanent, home and repair facility will officially open.
Many will bemoan the demise of the Brooklyn Roundhouse, but we as railfans have to throw out the romance of history for a moment and look to the future. In fact we have to do just what the ORHF (Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation for those readers not familar) did. When the organization started, Brooklyn acted as a home but there was always a feeling of temporariness about it. In 1996 when SP merged with UP in I think the fears about the future just increased. Visitors at Brooklyn were welcome however there was no official welcome mat thanks to the fact the roundhouse was on private property. With no stable, guaranteed permanent home the future of the locomotives seemed a bit (steam) clouded.
There was too much investment all three locomotives to let the effort drop just because there was no building. The result was the ORHF. From virtually nothing the ORHF organized, rallied support, raised funds (just over $5M according to their website), shook hands, gave cab rides, and entertained a lot of people. They, more importantly, formed a vision for the future to ensure that not only would the locomotives be preserved but future generations would have a place to visit and enjoy them.
Now, the results of their vision is about to open its doors.
For me and my family this very exciting. My youngest daughter is enamored with the Daylight, 700, and 197. She loves them. If they had just disappeared she would have been very sad. As I write this today the future of the three locomotives is very bright and now throughout her life my daughter will have a chance to experience the romance of steam up close and personal. She can can touch, see, and smell what steam is all about. Oh, I’m sure I’ll enjoy my visits too!
At this point, I say go support what you love. Contribute in some way to your favorite (rail related) organization. I have contributed to what I (and my kids) love and now I’m seeing the results.