Monday, April 29, 2013

A visit to Oregon

Over the weekend of April 19–21, I visited Portland, Oregon, in the company of my wife, in part because our younger son and his wife live there. My motivation was to give an invited talk at the 2nd Division (Pacific Northwest Region, NMRA) meet on Saturday the 20th, and Richard Hendrickson rode along with us because he was giving a talk at the meet also.
     But the purpose of this post is to mention two other interesting parts of the trip. One of these was a visit to the new engine house of the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, which was built to be the home for SP 4-8-4 4449, SP&S 4-8-4 700, and OWR&N 4-6-2 197. You can find out current information about ORHF at their web site, . I greatly enjoyed seeing the locomotives in their new facility, including work underway on the 15-year teardown and inspection of 4449. As a contributor to the ORHF fundraising efforts, which have successfully moved the locomotives from their old (and now demolished) home in the roundhouse at Brooklyn Yard, it was most gratifying to see the progress that has been made.
     We didn’t take any particularly good photos, but  here is a view of the building at the time of the dedication in September 2012, taken from the ORHF web pages.

In this view, the building doesn’t even have the name on the front yet! If you have a chance to visit, do not pass it up.
     The other intriguing point was discovered on our trip back south, when we stopped in Roseburg, Oregon for lunch. We ate in the McMenamins Restaurant, housed in what was formerly the Southern Pacific depot in Roseburg (and a nice place, by the way; you can see an exterior photo of it at: ). To Richard’s and my amazement, there were some fire cars parked on the track outside. The track has been operated since 1994 by CORP (Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad) over what was the SP’s Siskiyou Line from Black Butte, California to Springfield Oregon, along with SP’s Coos Bay Branch. (There is an unofficial web site for CORP, at: .) The CORP trackage was originally purchased from SP in 1994 by Railtex, then sold to RailAmerica, and is now the property of the short-line holding company Genesee & Wyoming.
     The fire cars are familiar as former SP fire cars, so why were we amazed? Because the cars are hardly altered from their SP appearance, and most remarkably, one of them is a circumferential-joint tank car. [For more on SP tank cars, you can consult Volume 5 of my book series, Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Signature Press, 2008.] Below are photos I took of three of the cars at Roseburg; all three have received replacement roller-bearing trucks. This first one is a former Class O-50-12 or O-50-13.

Shown next is this classic fire-car conversion, with extensive spray heads. Its heritage is not obvious, though it is clearly a longitudinal-seam tank. That makes it a former O-50-12 or -13, though with the expansion dome cut flat.

Lastly, this one, which is either a former Class O-50-10 or O-50-11, with circumferential seams above the bottom sheet:

Note that a geared, horizontal-shaft brake wheel and housing has been welded onto the end of the tank. This car was built in either 1925 or 1927, so is now at least 86 years old. One just doesn’t expect to see railroad equipment this old which is in service.
     This just proves, once again, that driving down to the tracks on almost any trip can yield something interesting!
Tony Thompson

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