Retiree Old Car Programs In California To Buy New Car A Journey Aboard the Mount Hood Railroad in Oregon

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A Journey Aboard the Mount Hood Railroad in Oregon

As the impenetrable misty white-gray blanket of sky covering the silvery Columbia River parted to reveal a gorgeous blue, the daily excursion train from Hood River to Odell, operated by the Mount Hood Railroad, began picking up passengers from its historic depot.

Built in 1911 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Oregon & Washington Railroad & Navigation Company (OWR & NC) Craftsman-style railroad depot replaced the original 1882 Queen Anne-style building and fostered the town’s thriving fruit, woodworking, and tourism. The 120-passenger waiting room, much larger than most public facilities at the same time, had a men’s smoking area and women’s and men’s toilets. Since 1987, it has served as the headquarters of the Mount Hood Railroad.

Today’s line-up of the train, powered by the #02 dark red, yellow and turquoise diesel-electric engine, included car 1056 called “Lookout Mountain”, car 1080, passenger car 1070 “Catharina” and car 1040.

The first jolt, signaling the tension of the car coupling, preceded the almost imperceptible slide of the train from Hood River Station as it moved slowly up the shallow incline of the track past the rolling stock of the dining car and over the black wrought iron crossing of the Hood River Bridge. The river, where the Lewis and Clark expedition once passed, was a dark green current of life, whose white exploding stone divisions, characteristic of life’s necessary deviations from the path and the protests of man as a result of them, glistened in the sun.

Through the denser vegetation, the path ran parallel to the river, whose small rapids turned the water into a seething white fury. In the distance, the densely formed Mount Hood National Forest.

It was from this forest, in fact, that the Mount Hood Railroad started. The Lost Lake Lumber Company, whose Columbia and Hood River locations initially provided significant economic and employment input to the Hood River community, began to decline as it became increasingly difficult to transport logs from the forest to the actual sawmill, and the eventual sale seemed the only profitable output. Utah logger David Eccles, who purchased the defunct concern, advocated building a dam that would facilitate the transportation of lumber by log flotation, but three local businessmen thwarted the effort, quickly securing a 99-year lease. planned site and announced the construction of its own 35-foot energy facility.

Eccles, who equally used short logging railroads to transport lumber to his other sawmills, got around the trouble by moving the mill 16 miles upriver and laying a track to connect the two sites by railroad.

The construction of an eastern route that would route the future railway through local orchards would ensure its viability as both a passenger and freight line, and a workforce of 150, living in six strategically located camps, operated the first stake in April 1905. Seven months, in November, the first locomotive reached the Hood River Bridge, and by February of the following year, a Japanese crew of conductors had extended the line to Odell, the destination of today’s excursion train, 8.5 miles from its departure point. Dee, the site of the new sawmill, was reached a month later, although the final 22-mile stretch to Parkdale, the gateway to Mount Hood, was not opened to the public until 1910.

The current diesel-electric engine was the most advanced development technology to use these rails, the first two locomotives were 37-year-old Union Pacific Baldwin Consolidation purchased 2-8-0s that were withdrawn from production in 1916 and 1917, respectively, and periodically replaced two similar used powerplants until the first recently purchased Baldwin 2-8-2 arrived.

Slowing down and still moving in the opposite direction, the May 2008 Mount Hood train approached a two-track switch that eventually allowed it to pull its meager chain of cars forward. One of only five switches left in the US, it originated as a turntable. As the original steam engines had to trace their steam emissions behind them through the cab and therefore always had to pull their cars forward, the turntable favored this earlier technology until the replacement of diesel engines in 1950 made it unnecessary. In 1968, Union Pacific purchased the railroad, when the original 13-car configuration was expanded to 18 cars.

Returning to the single spur and clearing the reverse gear “plug”, the 02 engine, now ready to begin its ascent in the direction that pulls the car forward, resumed motion, penetrating through the thick pine in the Hood River Valley. Approaching Highway 35, the train followed a 14-degree curve, the sharpest line that crossed a wooden railroad trestle and paralleled Whiskey Creek, where applejack was once made. Moving in a southerly direction, it ate a much steeper slope.

Arched ceiling concession car with period lights; old-fashioned, wallpapered wooden sides; brass lamps; and two- and four-seat wooden tables, in the center of which was a snack bar and counter. The continental breakfast I purchased during my 10:00 am run consisted of hot cinnamon rolls dipped in vanilla frosting and cranberry juice.

During a ten-year period between 1906 and 1916, the current rails supported intermodel service when ordinary railcars were connected to a White-designed railbus whose original wheels and tires were upgraded with flanged steel hubs to accept the rails. After acquiring a second, recently purchased excursion vehicle, the railroad operated four daily round trips between Hood River and Parkdale. The next, a 30-passenger Mack liner with a Pullman-like soft interior, ran for 13 years until it was destroyed in a fire at Summit Station in 1935. An extensive renovation eventually earned it a place on the National Historic Register.

Winding its way through peach and cherry orchards, the modern four-car train moved past carpeted hills, the foot of which was woven with tapestries of brown and green, proudly guarded on either side by tall dark green pine sentinels. Periodically piercing the late morning with its hair-raising metallic whistle, the vintage train rolled through the town of Pine Grove, now 3.6 miles from Hood River at an elevation of 608 feet, wobbling and clattering on its longitudinal axis. The sky, slightly overshadowed by a few clouds, turned into an intense blue.

The smooth, inverted, bowl-shaped Van Horn Butte, beyond Pine Grove, was one of the small volcanic vents from which lava flowed to form Mount Hood, forcing the Columbia River to move to its current more northerly location in Hood. River valley. Mount Hood itself, clad in its silky, brilliant white shawl of snow, loomed before the locomotive.

Views from the dome of the caboose trailing behind the three passenger cars revealed their locomotive-like reactions, sprung as if they consisted of a long iron tail that pierced the sometimes dense pine and fruit vegetation on the lonely track toward the snow-capped mountain silhouette. The air, although crystal clear, smelled of burning firewood in the distance. New Creek, which was used to feed the first sawmill in the Hood River Valley and served in that capacity for a quarter of a century, passed under the tracks. Mor, 4 miles from Hood River, was named after the family that planted the area’s first orchard.

Chasing a single track, now tripled, the Mount Hood train made its way into the Lenz station, originally called the Sherman Spur, and shut down the diesel engine. After driving past the stationary cars on the side line, he fixed himself behind the caboose again. In this configuration, it will push the train the last mile to Odell, its destination.

Pushed gently forward, the dark green carriages traveled almost imperceptibly along the silver rails, which were horizontally supported by dry wooden crossbars, passed the turnouts, and resumed the single section. Resuming speed, the train hurtled past the forest’s lumber yard in the crystal, pine-laced Pacific Northwest air toward the shadowy green tapestry that covered the mountains ahead and Odell, the end of today’s trip and once almost the end of the line’s track.

When Diamond Fruit Growers centralized their operations in Odell by eliminating the Dee to Parkdale section of the road, the Union Pacific Railroad estimated it could make $150,000 in profit in exchange for the molten steel, a decision that was in line with the 1986 Strategy to Abandon 1987 from 87 of its submarine railways. But Hood River County saw the move as little more than a loss due to the railroad’s inability to continue its economic contribution.

A newly formed railroad company, the Mount Hood Railroad, was touted as a successor to the Union Pacific, and the stock was purchased by fruit and lumber companies that held significant interests in its continued operation. Bus service from Parkdale, its terminus, equally facilitated passenger travel to Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark, allowing the railroad to connect two of Oregon’s most important tourist attractions: Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge.

Union Pacific’s purchase, however, came with one condition: The local Hood River Group, which wants to keep service at the end of the line from Dee to Parkdale, would have to either buy the entire 22-mile line from Hood River or forfeit the opportunity to keep the railroad’s economic contribution to the valley. .

After considerable effort, negotiation, and capital, the purchase deal was completed on November 2, 1947, and the Mount Hood Railroad, which I ride today, was born. Spinning its wheels with ever-diminishing power, at 11:15 a.m. Engine 02 pushed its short historic passenger bus circuit into Odell parallel to the concrete strip that served as its platform, now 8.5 miles from its 712-foot departure point, and screeched its brakes. just yards from the main road.

Named after William S. Odell, who settled here in 1861 after traveling from California, the modern one-street town, which includes a small supermarket, church and gas station, originally served as a gathering place for Native Americans and later served as a route for the Hudson Company bay between The Dulles and Ft. Vancouver.

Descending the three steps from car 1070 to the street, I looked back at the short train of open and closed cars and caboose that had carried me today from the Columbia River, and somehow realized that this journey represented more than a century of geographical travel and the evolution of railroad lines. The rails, operated by the Oregon and Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, the Union Pacific Railroad, and what is now the Mount Hood Railroad, carried lumber, freight, passengers, and tourists. The line was short, but it’s a long story. Like life, it will continue as long as a purpose is found for it. Unlike life, it was able to determine what that purpose was.

Walking off the platform toward the tiny town of Odell, with the majestic snow-capped peak of Mount Hood towering triumphantly above the surrounding pine tops, I disappeared into the crowd of trains.

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