Wednesday, May 14, 2014

4449-844 Doubleheader: 4449 Passes Through

IMG_6301 Southern Pacific #4449 at Peninsula Jct on May 12, 2007
Southern Pacific #4449

At about 10:00, #4449 arrived, right on time. Surprisingly, it did not come through the tunnel, as I had expected. Instead, it had taken the longer route around the peninsula, and backed up toward Peninsula Junction from the North and turned East to back toward the Kenton Yard. There was still no sign of #844 though.

SP #4449 Backing Through Peninsula Junction

With #4449 now east of the junction, there was no point in remaining within sight of the tunnel anymore, so I walked to the east end of the junction where a number of other railfans had gathered. I waited here for a while, trying to find an ideal vantage point. I was a little concerned though, now that my car was all the way on the other side of the junction. After the train came through, it would take a few minutes to walk back to it, costing me precious time I might need to get ahead of the train to get more pictures down the line. On the other hand, if I moved it now, I might be down by my car and in a bad photo spot when the train came through. I weighed this decision for about an hour.

After not seeing #4449, or #844, or any other train for an hour, I decided to risk walking back to my car. Instead of just moving it, I would take the opportunity to go and find where #4449 was waiting. I could then find out if #844 was there, and what the ETA was, and maybe find an even better photo spot. I got back to my car and drove east on Columbia Boulevard. I spotted #4449 behind some warehouses near the west end of the Kenton Yard. I pulled in and asked some bystanders what was going on. It turned out that #844 was running very late, and had only left Hood River about 15 minutes earlier, at about 11:00 AM. There was at least another hour of waiting. At this point I made the statement, "Leave it to Union Pacific to be late to their own party."


#4449 was not in a very good spot for photos, so I went back to my position at the east end of the junction, with my car parked nearby and oriented for a quick getaway. I was surprised to notice that in the short time I had been gone, a lot of people had left. As I spread the word about what I'd discovered, I learned that a couple of Portland Police officers had come by while I was gone. They were completely unaware of the steam locomotives that were coming through, and thought the large gathering of people was some sort of protest. Though they didn't ask anyone to leave once they knew what was going on, their brief presence, combined with the absence of the train, might have led many of the waiting railfans to give up or find other positions.

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