This newspaper article with photos by Deborah Steele Hazen was originally published in The Clatskanie Chief on May 26, 2005. I originally posted it on my website on June 1, 2005; I had very closely replicated the original layout of the article, but it didn’t translate into this new format.
The Clatskanie Chief
MAY 26, 2005
Celebratory Ride Starts Last Season of Lewis & Clark Train
A SPECIAL START OF THE SEASON AND VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION RIDE on the Lewis & Clark Explorer Train, especially arranged by State Senator Betsy Johnson and Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen, was enjoyed by about 40 volunteers and community leaders from around Columbia and Clatsop counties Saturday morning. The train loaded in Clatskanie, with passengers from out of the area arriving via bus. With the buses in the background, Sen. Johnson is shown chatting with some of the volunteers prior to boarding the train.
Dan Orr, of Astoria, dressed as one of the members of the Corps of Discovery has met the trains as they arrived in Astoria over the past two summers, and enjoyed the scenic ride from Clatskanie to Astoria in his buckskins armed with his mock muzzle-loader.
Johnson, who was instrumental in securing funding for the train during the Lewis & Clark bicentennial celebration, presented plaques of appreciation to the various volunteers when the "Explorer" arrived in Astoria. The volunteers included those who turned the railroad bridges across the Clatskanie River and Blind Slough.
The celebratory ride was also a bit bittersweet for the train's supporters. Ridership was down last year over its first year, and the train has not made a profit. The Oregon Department of Transportation Rail Division does not plan to fund it beyond this year's season which will end Oct. 3. Unless another party steps forward to continue it, it appears that passenger rail service - gone for half a century before the establishment of the Lewis & Clark Explorer Train - will disappear once more from the Lower Columbia region.
Additional information about the Lewis & Clark Explorer Train, including ticket information may be obtained by calling Lewis & Clark Explorer Train Marketing & Operations Manager Susan Trabucco at 503 325-7909 or email susan@trabuccoconsulting .com.
The train normally runs from the Linnton Station, west of Portland, but self-organized groups of 20 or more passengers may get on and off the train in St. Helens or Rainier. To make arrangements for that opportunity, interested groups should call Sundial Travel Agency in Astoria, 1-800-433-1164.
Chief Photos by Deborah Steele Hazen