Annual Tradition

Our family has an annual holiday tradition.  Each year we ride the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation’s Holiday Express train.  It is a simple but enjoyable ride that gets all of us on a train at least once a year.

The Southern Pacific 4449 leads the first Holiday Express train of the day away from the Oaks Park Station.  The trill of steam operation continues in Portland.

Our tradition doesn’t end with the ride and associated shopping trip at the tent.  My daughter and I use Sunday’s on HE weekends to view the power and thrill of steam operations up close and personal.  We head down to Oaks Park station and choose a variety of locations to watch the train.  Our favorite by far is to stand between Oaks Park station and Spokane St.  On this short segment the train leaves Oaks Park station and climbs a small grade up to Spokane St.  On the cool and damp December mornings steam clouds hang in the air seemingly for minutes after the train passes.  Even better the sounds of locomotive exhaust and whistle bounce off the hillsides around the Willamette River giving more than one chance to hear these fabulous machines.

Yesterday while we stood on the Springwater trail (the paved trail next to the fence) one passerby commented “There is nothing like the sound of a steam engine is there?”.  I agreed.  The fact we can experience one at least once a year in Portland is a real privilege.  We are lucky to have the hard working volunteers who put in countless hours and contribute countless dollars to make these excursions happen.  We are lucky to have Dick Samuels and the Oregon Pacific to make sure these locomotives have a well maintained place to operate right in town.  And finally we are lucky to have the passengers who flock to the trains every year.  We are lucky we have such a fabulous annual family tradition.

Historic Transportation

Saturday and Sunday last weekend the Daylight made a round trip between Portland and Bend.  I, along with many other railfans, spent the day searching for great photos of this beautiful locomotive and passenger train.  Knowing the train would move quickly up the Columbia River gorge I planned my first couple of photo locations carefully.  My first location would be as the train crossed the Willamette River draw bridge.  From there I would have to cross the Columbia River and get ahead of the train with enough time to get set up.  My second planned photo was 80 miles later between Bingen and Lyle.  I arrived with about 10 minutes to spare.

After that I headed into the Deschutes River canyon where I knew I’d have plenty of time to scope out my photo, enjoy my lunch, and wait for the train to arrive.  After much driving around and looking at various spots between Shearar’s bridge and Maupin I settled on this location at the White River.  My plan worked well as the passing clouds opened up just prior to the train’s arrival.  Luck maybe?

From there I moved on to a location between Paxton and Madras.  I’ve not spent much time in this location so I wanted to arrive early enough to have an opportunity to scope out the situation.  Knowing the train had to traverse the canyon between Cambrai and Gateway plus make two train meets at Dixon and Kaskela, I would have plenty of time to scope things out.    Once I scoped out my position I heard the train setting up for a photo runby.  I was bummed because the light on my location was perfect.  Between the setting sun and the increasing clouds I was concerned what the 30-45 minute delay would do.  In the end the delay helped.  Had the train arrived when I originally thought it would a cloud obscured the sun.  When it actually arrived the sun was out!

I made this trip with my 15 year old Daylight loving daughter.  She was thrilled to spend the day with me out chasing the Daylight.   For her seeing it, hearing it, and smelling the exhaust were the highlights.   I enjoyed watching her and hearing the thrill in her voice as she talked about it after each time it went past.  It is nice that 71 years later the 4449 can still bring so much joy to so many folks!


Fine ’til the 4449

Like Steve, I ended up down at Portland’s Union Station last weekend for National Train Day. Having been to events such as this with large crowds of the public, I knew I probably wasn’t going to get any prize-winning calendar shots. I’ve recently started playing around more with HDR photography so I decided to take a few photos that might let me explore this technique. This worked well for a couple photos, such as this one of an ex-UP caboose:

I was also able to pull out a decent amount of shadow detail around the Oregon Pacific 1202:

Things didn’t go so smoothly for the 4449. The running boards of the locomotive where nice and shiny which reflected the colors of the crowd next to her. These reflections weren’t too bad in the original image, but after processing the photo and tone mapping, the reflections turned into random noticeable splotches on the side of the locomotive:

You win some, you lose some. Hopefully I’m smart enough to learn as I continue to work on technique.

I’m testing a new embedding method with the images in this post. I see a couple issues so I’ll need to get those resolved.

National Train Day – Portland, OR

As most railfans know today is National Train Day.  For those of us in the Portland, OR area that means a visit to Portland Union Station to see the star of many local shows, the SP 4449 Daylight.   There were other visitors like BNSF 7400, “Mt. Hood”, and UP Caboose 25198 but as you can guess the Daylight was the star of the show.

Since my daughter Haley absolutely adores the 4449 and trains in general this turns into a must do event for our family.

Portland Union Station

With Haley, Tammy, and Tammy’s Mom in tow we headed out for NTD adventure.  As I expected there were plenty of people enjoying the nice weather and the trains which made the line for Daylight cab visits about 30 minutes long.  We passed on that but did take advantage of tours of UP Caboose 25198 and GN Empire Builder car “Mt. Hood”.   We also spent plenty of time exploring the booths around the station where Haley picked up some goodies and a couple of new t-shirts.

Waiting for the Daylight

Haley’s most comfortable when she has the full lay of the land so we headed up on the pedestrian overpass at the south end of the station to get a view of all the equipment parked for us to examine.

National Train Day – Portland

On our way out we visited the BNSF 7400.  Rarely do we actually get up close and personal with locomotives so I encouraged Haley to touch the engine and look around it.  We felt the vibration of the engine idling, we looked at the “big wheels”, and admired the BNSF paint.  A perfect end to a great National Train Day!

If you want to read Tammy’s perspective on the day visit her blog.