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Twin Cities to home via Portland Part 2

by Chris Guenzler


I woke up just after Pasco and went to get the Box Breakfast offered to Sleeping Car Passengers on the Portland Section of the Empire Builder. I couldn't eat that as it was a Ham and Cheese Sandwich so I had to buy a Cinnamon Roll instead. I relaxed while watching the view on the land side of the Columbia River Gorge until the fresh air stop at Wishram. I detrained in Wishram on a non windy morning.

I had never noticed this monument in Wishram before.

Our train sits in Wishram.

This Great Northern engine is a P-2 Mountain class locomotive numbered 2507 on display under cover at Wishram. The Empire Builder left Wishram on time and headed for points west. I decided to work on yesterday's story on the Empire Builder as we headed to Portland this morning and take pictures as needed going west through the Columbia River Gorge.

The bridge that takes the former Oregon Trunk to Bend and Klamath Falls.

Horsethief Lake.

Mount Hood.

Views heading west down the Columbia River Gorge.

The Empire Builder passed through these tunnels.

Views looking back.

Birds live in their nests on the trackside poles in the Columbia River Gorge.

Mount Hood.

The Empire Builder passed through these tunnels along the highway.

Sometimes the view on the land side of the Columbia River Gorge can be quite spectacular.

Spokane Portland & Seattle F-unit at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. I worked on the story all the way to Vancouver where I finished it just before our station stop there.

Our train has left Vancouver for the final stop of Portland Union Station.

First we crossed the Columbia River into the State of Oregon.

The Columbia Slough was crossed next.

I finally saw the motive power that uses these tracks.

A BNSF local waits for us to clear the mainline.

We passed this BNSF freight heading to Lake Yard in Portland.

The train went through this deep cut and under that bridge.

The Willamette River Bridge before we ran the rest of the way into Portland Union Station arriving there eight minutes early.

Portland 8/18/2009

I detrained from the Empire Builder and headed to the First Class Lounge in Portland Union Station. After I checked in with the agent, she took me to the router and I plugged in to get on the Internet. I uploaded the Twin Cities Limited Story and the first day on the Empire Builder plus all the pictures. I called Winston to tell him to proof both of them while I scanned Trainorders. Twenty five minutes later, the Twin Cities Limited story proofs arrived and I corrected them before uploading it. I posted that story on Trainorders and called Steve at Trainweb to tell him it was done. About twenty minutes later, the first day story proof came and I uploaded it. Now hungry I asked the agent a good place to eat and she gave me a map with an X where Fuller's Coffee Shop was. I walked the ten minutes to it and ordered a Steak Sandwich which was excellent. I walked back to the Lounge and got back online. After that I picked up a Coca-Cola and new Sudoku Book, I returned to the lounge and sat by a window to watch an expected show.

There is a piece of track missing by the Empire Builder which is sitting there until they wye the train later.

This tractor was amusing to watch work as we waited for a twenty minutes late Coast Starlight to arrive into Portland Union Station.

Coast Starlight 11 8/18/2009

The Coast Starlight pulled into Portland Union Station with Engines 181 and 25, Baggage 1161, Transition 39030, Sleepers 32058, 32063 and 32047, Pacific Parlour Car 39970 Columbia Valley, Diner 38068, Lounge 33034 with Coaches 34006, 34037, 34063, 34048 and 34101. I was booked into Car 1130, the 32047, Room 2 with Bob as my Sleeping Car Attendant. The train departed Portland twenty minutes late.

The Willamette River as we left Portland. At Coalco we took the siding and waited eighteen minutes for the northbound Coast Starlight.

Coming into Salem the Southern Pacific lives on. Later at Marion we were delayed by the UP 5456 North.

Coming into Albany we passed the yard of the Willamette & Pacific Railroad. At 6:00 PM I went to the Dining Car and was seated with a former student teacher from McFadden and his wife. We were eating when the train arrived into Eugene. I had the Braised Flat Iron Bordelaise and Vanilla ice cream for dessert. After dining I watched my DVD of Led Zeppelin Live as the train climbed the Cascade Mountains. I called it a night after Cascade Summit and made up my room for the final night on the train that was running one hour twenty minutes late.


I woke up as the train curved into Sacramento. I got dressed and went outside towards the baggage car and found my brother Bruce. Our train left Sacramento on time and was in the Dining Car enjoying French Toast and sausage patties for breakfast. The train ran to Davis and Martinez where I couldn't keep my eyes open and went back to bed. I woke up after Oakland was we had stopped at Haywood to let a Capitol Corridor Train pass heading north. Later I got the camera ready as we neared the ghost town of Aviso.

Views of Aviso.

The San Francisco 49er's Practice Facility as we neared San Jose, our next fresh air stop of the trip.

Elkhorn Slough on the way to Salinas.

Railroad display in Salinas. I watched the Million Mile DVDs as the train ran up the Salinas Valley.

Later the Coast Starlight on the Goldtree Horseshoe Curve and you can see the California Car 8088 that was added at Oakland. The train ran to San Luis Obispo and after a fresh air stop there, we departed twenty minutes late. Next I put on the Motley Crue Live DVD.

Trees after we had passed through Casmalia and headed towards the Coast Line.

The low clouds had me worried.

But then you saw the Pacific Ocean and I knew I would be ok.

On the way to Surf and the crossing of the Santa Ynez River.

Scenes along the coast just before Dinner. I had dinner with my friends from last night and had the same thing, the Braised Flat Iron Bordelaise. At Santa Barbara I took my final fresh air break of the trip.

The Santa Barbara Station

The World's Largest Fig Tree.

The Southern Pacific Passenger Car now on display at Santa Barbara. We departed Santa Barbara five minutes late.

Scenes along the coast on the way to Ventura where we turned inland to our next stop at Oxnard.

The western end of the Santa Monica Mountains. We ran to Strathearn where we met a Metrolink Train. After Semi Valley we went into the Santa Susana siding to meet Surfliner 785. We then ran to Van Nuys, our next station stop. After that we ran to Los Angeles Union Station but took the route via the East Bank of the Los Angeles River. The Coast Starlight arrived into LAUPT at 8:53 PM, seven minutes early ending a great Amtrak Trip. I walked over to Track 10 to wait for Surfliner 796 to arrive into LAUPT.

Surfliner 796 8/19/2009

Surfliner 796 came into LAUPT at 9:43 PM from Goleta and I boarded taking a lower level Pacific Business Class seat. I was out on the platform when Conductor CJ showed up and we spoke for a few minutes about our good dear friend, the late Richard Hamilton of Lets Talk Trains fame, before we left LAUPT on time. At Fullerton and Anaheim I stepped off with CJ for some fresh air. The train arrived a few minutes early into Santa Ana. I detrained and walked through the station saying "Hello" to Marty, my excellent night time Amtrak agent, before I walked to my Mother's waiting van. We drove home and got passed by a BNSF local on the way there. This ends an excellent rail adventure to Wisconsin and the NRHS 2009 convention at Duluth. Next year I will see you all in Scranton, Pennsylvania.