Saturday in The Gorge

On the 14th I spent an impromptu day in the Columbia River Gorge watching trains and hanging out with some friends.  I decided to make a full day of it so I was up at 4 and on the road at 5.  My goal was to be at tunnel 2 east of Cooks when the sun came up and my timing was impeccable as I was able to sit on the shore of the mighty Columbia and watch the sun pop over the mountains to the east.   It was a beautiful morning…as long as you could stay out of the wind.  I fought hard to keep everything on the ground while perched up on the rock just east of the tunnel.  Brutal.

I captured three trains there but I’m not quite ready to share those images just yet.

I followed the last eastbound to Bingen where it met a manifest.  A 10mph slow order and the slow down for the meet allowed me to get ahead to capture the image above of the train winding around the rocks and across the Locke Lake fill.  These guys were in a hurry to get to Lyle to meet the Builder so I let them go about their business and found a place to photograph 27.

More about the day in my next post…


Hold On

We are struggling mightily to get out of winter in the Northwest.  It snowed yesterday in Vancouver as well as out at the ocean.  For the Oregon beaches it was the first March snow storm since 1966!  The consequence of this slow transition is we haven’t had nice days or even showers and sun breaks which are typical for this time of year.

An empty coal train is about to enter Tunnel 1.5 near North Bonneville, Wa.  A winter snow storm has left a dusting on the ground throughout the Columbia River Gorge.

I can feel my photographer self suffering from the lack of interesting light.  I’ve wanted several times to run out and photograph but the gray just isn’t motivating.  I have a few images in mind but really a clear or partly cloudy day would suit them better than the rain and gray skies.  Things are bad enough that a couple of days ago I found myself photographing the trees blowing in the wind because that was the most interesting thing happening.   Don’t get me wrong, I like photographing that stuff but I’m in the mood for real light soon!

A change in the weather will come.  It always does. In the mean time I continue to share my snowy gray day images because winter still has a hold on us.


Amtrak 1 is not something you see everyday. According reports I’ve read, Amtrak 1, 2, and 3 have been roaming the Northwest on the Cascades trains .  I never saw 2 or 3 but I did happen across 1 several few times.  On the 1’s last visit I decided to grab a few photos while it was stopped at Vancouver.

What’s the big deal about 1?  Good question.  I supposd in this modern era where 4 digit engine numbers are most common single digits remind us times past when mom & pop railways numbered their engines in the single digits.  Amtrak certainly isn’t mom & pop but the low number gives us the impression of a small, quaint operation.  That’s my guess anyway…

Train In My Front Yard

Many people ask me why I don’t live closer to the railroad track.  I love trains after all so why wouldn’t I like to live closer?

Oh boy, that can be a touchy topic.  I’d love to live where I could see trains but there are some things about that capability that makes owning a home in one of those locations more challenging.  For me personally my home and family are my priority so I tend to focus on what works best for all of us.  I know my family would not enjoy the noise, smells, and inconvenience of  living by the tracks.  Additionally I purchased a home for us to live in and a bit as an investment.  I would be concerned about living next to the tracks and how that would impact my home’s value.  Those are the main reasons why I’m 3 miles from the closest track.

When I drove along the Evergreen Highway on Sunday I had to laugh at the latest construction project.  As the photo depicts the home has a 4 car garage with a room above (got model railroad?).  The home itself is probably twice the size of the garage building.  The view the home will have is interesting as they can see out to the Columbia and the Glenn Jackson bridge.  Beautiful.  I’d move there if I could afford it.  Maybe.

Look what is in their front yard though.   Yep, the Fallbridge sub and its 20-30 trains a day including coal trains, grain trains, and manifests.  All the heavy stuff rolls right by here.  I’m quite certain that the house will pound when a flat wheel on a loaded 186K lbs. car goes by but fortunately for them most trains move quickly by this location thanks to the number of grade crossings in the area.  That means the middle of the night wake ups shouldn’t last more than a minute and the ground pounders will only rattle the china momentarily.  I guess I’ll find out if the noise is too much for the new owners when a sound wall goes up.

I do wish the new owners the best of luck with their beautiful new home.  Enjoy.