Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Astoria Line Excursion in August 1998

On the weekend of August 22nd and 23rd of 1998, the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association's Spokane, Portland & Seattle E-1 Class 4-8-4 #700 was scheduled to pull a series of excursion trains on the Portland & Western Railroad's Astoria Line from Linnton to Saint Helens and back. My dad and I heard about the excursions and went to photograph one of the trips on Sunday the 23rd. When we got to Linnton, we learned that before the first excursion departed on Saturday, the steam locomotive broke down (it turned out to be a bent radius rod), requiring the excursion trains to be pulled by diesel locomotives while the steam locomotive remained in Linnton under a blue tarp.

Portland & Western SD9R #1851 "Hillsboro" in Linnton, Oregon, on August 23, 1998

One of the locomotives that was drafted into service was Portland & Western SD9R #1851, Hillsboro. It was originally built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in April 1954 as Southern Pacific #5360. In 1965 it was renumbered to #3819. On January 11, 1971, it was upgraded at Southern Pacific's Sacramento General Shops as SD9R #4326. It was retired by Southern Pacific on February 12, 1993, and was sold to the Willamette & Pacific on April 4, 1994, where it became #1851. It was transferred to the Portland & Western in May 1995.

Willamette & Pacific GP39-2 #2317 "Tigard" in Linnton, Oregon, on August 23, 1998

The other diesel locomotive was Willamette & Pacific #2317, Tigard, a 2,300-horsepower GP39-2 that was built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in 1974 as Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe #3616. It is one of a group of 17 GP39-2s Willamette & Pacific acquired from the Santa Fe in 1993.

Nicolet Scenic Railroad Ranch Car #8150 "Running Crane Lake" in Linnton, Oregon, on August 23, 1998

Two private passenger cars were parked in Linnton but were not part of the excursion train. One of these was Nicolet Scenic Railroad NBNR 8150 Running Crane Lake, a Lounge-Diner-Coffee Shop Car that was originally built by American Car & Foundry in 1951 as Great Northern Railway #1241 Running Crane Lake for the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle. This was one of six such cars, which were referred to as "Ranch" cars on the Great Northern, and featured Western-themed interiors. The car retained its GN number when the Great Northern was merged into the Burlington Northern on March 2, 1970. After the creation of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, the car became Amtrak #8150 in 1972. After being retired by Amtrak, the car ended up on the Nicolet Badger Northern Railroad in Wisconsin, and was used in an excursion service called the Nicolet Scenic Railroad. The Nicolet Badger Northern Railroad shut down in 1994, and this car was acquired by a private owner.

Wyoming & Pacific Business Car #35 "Casper Mountain" in Linnton, Oregon, on August 23, 1998

The other private car parked in Linnton was Business Car Casper Mountain, which was originally built by Pullman in 1924 as Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Business Car #35. It was originally assigned to the Assistant General Manager of the Eastern Lines. It was reassigned to the General Manager of the Gulf Lines in 1966. It was renumbered to #57 in 1973. It was retired in 1980 and sold to a private owner. It was restored to its original number#35 and named Louisa. It was sold again and renamed Casper Mountain. It carries the road name Wyoming & Pacific on the letterboard, but this railroad does not exist; it is merely a reference to the owner's home state. Its official reporting mark and number is PPCX #800182.

Willamette & Pacific GP39-2 #2317 "Tigard" in Linnton, Oregon, on August 23, 1998

Even though the excursion train was pulled by diesels instead of the steam locomotive, we chased it for part of its westbound trip anyway. Here is the train pictured along NW Marina Way in Linnton, shortly after departure.

Willamette & Pacific GP39-2 #2317 "Tigard" in Holbrook, Oregon, on August 23, 1998

Here is the excursion train at Holbrook, Oregon. The train was traveling very slowly, making it easy to get ahead of it on the parallel U.S. Highway 30.

Willamette & Pacific GP39-2 #2317 "Tigard" on the Astoria Line in Oregon, on August 23, 1998

Here is a picture of the excursion train from a point along Highway 30.

Willamette & Pacific GP39-2 #2317 "Tigard" near Scappoose, Oregon, on August 23, 1998

Finally, here is the excursion train approaching Lower Rocky Point Road near Scappoose, Oregon. After this, we gave up on the chase and headed home.

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