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The Trip to Laws Featuring Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad 3/19-22/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I awoke in Corvallis and after our morning Internet duties, we walked over to Elmer's for another excellent breakfast then returned to our room and after packing, checked out and I drove us to Lebanon for the first train ride of the trip.

Santa Maria Valley 2-6-2 205 Information

Number 205 was built by Baldwin in 1924 for the San Joaquin and Eastern Railraod where she would stay until 1933 then became Santa Maria Valley 205. Retired and placed on display in Santa Maria, California, in 1950, she was acquired in 1983 and restored by a private owner, George Lavacot and moved to the Valley & Siletz Railroad shops in Independence, Oregon. Late in 2021, it was moved to its new home at the Santiam Excursion Train, which operates on the Albany & Eastern Railroad in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

In her later years at SMV, number 205 was given the tender from SMV 150, which was a 2-8-2 Baldwin originally built as Vance Lumber 4 for service in Washington.

The Trip

Santa Maria Valley 205 before the trip in Lebanon.

Albany and Eastern SW1000 3613, nee Burlington Northern 388, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1972. It spent most of its working life in the Pacific Northwest, holding assignments in Seattle, Vancouver, Washington, and Portland. In 2014, it was re-lettered GN 3613 to make room in the BNSF roster for newer power.

The rear of the train and the Lebanon station.

Southern Pacific caboose 4716 built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1980.

Northern Pacific coach-buffet-lounge car 498 "Traveller's Rest", ex. Daylight Locomotive Works 498, exx. Duncan-Vinwood Management Companny 800288 "Sonoma Valley", exxx. Great Western Tours, exxxx. Amtrak 8354 1971, exxxx. Burlington Northern 8354, nee 28 seat chair-20 seat buffet lounge by Pullman-Standard in 1947. It operated on the North Coast Limited then in 1955, these cars were re-configured to the Lewis & Clark Traveller's Rest series, with a 14-seat lunch counter and 30-seat club lounge. The Lewis & Clark format was the work of industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who had been hired by Northern Pacific to re-design the line's flagship train.

RFRX baggage car 1003, ex. Roadway Tool and Office Car 903012 1972, nee Union Pacific postal storage car 5743 built by the railroad in 1957. It was retired in 1981 and acquired by the Albany and Eastern in 2021.

Albany and Eastern coach 1099, ex. Great Northern 1099, nee Chicago and North Western 56-seat coach 841 built by Pullman in 1957. After being stored with AERC for many years, they purchased it from private ownership and it has been made into a dining car.

Albany and Eastern open air car 1002 rebuilt from a Union Pacific flat car converted to maintenance-of-way service.

The author enjoying the "Traveller's Rest".

Information about the cars of the Albany and Eastern train.

Elizabeth enjoying this unique passenger car. With that I walked forward to the open air car for some of the journey.

Oregon Electric (Southern Pacific) Lebanon station built in 1906.

An employee lifted the handicap ramp that is used to board passengers and with that done, the engineer whistled off and we started the trip to Bauman.

Taking the first curve just east of the station.

Rounding the curve after leaving the junction to the Mill City line.

The next curve.

Nearing the old Weldwood Mill water tower. I walked back to one of the vestibules.

The train took the curve along the Santiam River and through a junction of switches.

Reverse curve along US Highway 26.

A curve on the other side of the train.

Steve Barry and some of his railroad-chasing friends.

Rolling along US Highway 26.

Steve Barry and some other steam chasing fans.

More railfans photographing our steam train. We arrived into Bauman where the engine would cut off and reverse to the other end of the train.

Santa Maria Valley 205 reversed by the train, after which Elizabeth and I sat in the "Traveller's Rest" for the remainder of the trip.

The forward end. We returned to Lebanon and once the ramp was down, exited and I asked our conductor how many miles it was to Baumanm, to which he replied nine.

Onward to some stations and other items

Elizabeth then drove us back to Interstate 5 then east on Interstate 84 out in the Columbia River Gorge. We exited the freeway and took Corbett Hill Road to the Historic Columbia Highway east to our first visit to Vista House.

Vista House

Oregon's Columbia River Gorge is a sight to behold. This stunning canyon was created over millions of years and is 4,000 feet deep. For some of the best views of this stunning natural wonder, visitors take the winding road up to Vista House, a historic treasure that is one of the Beaver State's most well-loved landmarks. Perched on a ridge 733 feet above the Columbia River Gorge, Vista House is a beloved icon. Completed in 1917, Vista House is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designed by Oregon architect Edgar M. Lazarus.

But with a location like that, Lazarus envisioned something a little more grand. As the budget increased, locals started calling the project "The $100,000 outhouse". By the time Vista House was completed, the budget came in at $96,000, but most Oregonians today would consider that money well spent. Vista House measures 44 feet in diameter and stand 55 feet high. Its soaring dome and greenish opalized windows are stunning and the floor, stairs and wainscotting are made of Tokeen Alaskan Marble.

In 2001, an extensive renovation was undertaken. The five-year project cost around $2 million and included a one-of-a-kind lift to make the building fully-accessible to all who want to visit. Inside Vista House, you will find a museum with displays and information about the building's history and the people who worked throughout the years to preserve it. Volunteers are on hand to tell you all about Vista House and its history, as well as to provide information about the Columbia River Gorge and the many beautiful attractions along its highway.

Vista House is run by a collaboration between Oregon State Parks and Friends of Vista House, a non-profit organization. Once you've explored Vista House, you'll want to walk around the grounds. You'll find several viewing scopes that allow for close-up views below. The views from up here are absolutely incredible. From your perch above, you'll have an eagle's eye view of the river and Columbia Valley Gorge below.

Stop by Vista House to visit its museum, peruse the gift shop, enjoy a snack or beverage in the espresso bar and of course, soak in those gorgeous views. The hours to enter Vista House may vary, depending on the season. Vista House sometimes closes due to high winds or ice. You can call 503-695-2240 before heading out to make sure it is open.

The Vista House as one approaches.

We entered and were extremely impressed. Always look up!

The views are incredible but there was a cool wind and the experience would be better in the warmer weather. Elizabeth bought a magnet while I explored the museum, which she did too. We left Vista House and along US Highway 30, came apon a train.

Union Pacific 6358 West in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. From here we drove to Hood River for petrol then continued on Interstate 84 east to the Celilo Park exit and took Oregon Highway 206 to Wasco.

Wasco station, built by the Columbia Southern, a predecessor of the Union Pacific, in 1898. The Columbia Southern Railroad built a line in 1901 from Biggs on the Union Pacific, seventy miles south across the Deschutes Plateau, to Shaniko. A parallel line, the Great Southern, was built in 1904 from The Dalles, reaching forty miles south into Wasco County. However, neither of these two railroads could negotiate the terrain that led to the Deschutes Valley, so they remained dead-end routes.

The sign on the depot tells you the end points -- 9.6 miles to Biggs and 60.2 Shaniko.

Union Pacific caboose 24535, nee Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific 17117, built by International Car in 1967. From here we then took Oregon Highway 206 to Condon.

Union Pacific caboose 24523, nee Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific 17105, built by International Car in 1966.

Union Pacific Condon station built in 1905, which houses a museum that was unforunately closed as it was after 5:00. We drove Oregon Highway 19 so I could see what was left on the Union Pacific Condon branch.

In Arlington is a replica station used by the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad.

The sign on the station.

The Arlington station board, with the distance to Pittsburg, Kansas 1,767 miles and Portland, Oregon 138 miles.

As we were leaving Arlington, Elizabeth spotted Union Pacific caboose 24585, nee Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific 17167, built by International Car Company in 1967 in Earl Snell Park. I drove us back to the Dalles, where we checked into the Cousins Country Inn then had dinner at their restaurant before we relaxed the rest of the night.

3/20/2023 Elizabeth and I arose in The Dalles and after our Internet duties, went to have breakfast at their resatuarant then packed the car and checked out before driving over to City Hall where Elizabeth was successful in acquiring a city lapel pin. From here I drove US Highway 97 to Oregon Highway 261 and at Metolius, found the station.

Oregon Trunk Metolius station built in 1911.

Metolius station information board. From here I drove us to Prineville and we found a few items of interest.

The engine house with a Western Pacific hopper car, now City of Prineville, maintenance-of-way car.

The stores building.

Another view of the engine house.

City of Prineville station.

The stores building.

Fuel pump.

Hand car shed.

Track view. Elizabeth then drove but stopped when I spotted something.

City of Prineville SW1500 1551, ex. Relco Locomotive Works 1551, exx. Joseph Transportation 1551, exxx. Wisconsin Central 1551, nee Southern Pacific 2505 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1968. Elizabeth drove us south down US Highway 97 where we stopped for petrol at La Pine before we switched drivers and made our way to Klamath Falls, stopping at a steam engine.

Southern Pacific 2-8-0 2579 built by Burnham and Williams in 1905. It was retired in 1956 and donated to the city in 1957.

Locomotive 2579 display board. We drove to the Maverick Inn and checked in, then I started the story and watched my Pittsburgh Penguins lose 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators. We walked to the Waffle Hut and Eatery for dinner then walked back to the inn for the night.

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