Explorers Log


These log entries were originaly written between May 30th and June 11th, 1997, While on "Holiday", in Southern Oregon & Northern California.

Day Ten & Summary

11 June 1997- Well I figured Rick & Dan's Big adventure required one more entry. A trip summary to kind of wrap up the loose ends. I will call this entry, Day 10 & Summary. Since I have been in Hot-lanta for over 24 hours, I have recovered from the trip. Dan & I both decided writing the summaries & making the daily web pages were a lot of fun. I think I will use a similar format on future trips. I will always use the GPS for navigation. The Laptop traveled well. Other then the fact that the ten day trip consumed 40 AA batteries, I had no complaints about the equipment. Enough about the technology. As I have mentioned previously, 4449 looked great. I have seen a few steam engines, in my life. For some reason, this one just looked massive. She sounded even better. Several times I clocked us between mileposts. We did a steady 64 miles per hour up hill, towards Wishram Washington. I believe we had 14 cars and 600 riders. You got the feeling they were not even pushing the engine hard. The line was very busy, after meets we accelerated out of the passing sidings easily. Yes, we took the siding most of the time. The dispatching was good, several meets were rolling ones. Since UP wants nothing to do with running the 4449, I am glad the BNSF has kind of adopted her as "their" engine. In fact, Dan has a photo of a BNSF locomotive dept building. Painted on the side is a picture of 4449 in Daylight Orange, and BN green. It did not look to bad! On day Ten, (Sunday June 8th) we paced the train along the gorge. I guess most guys were waiting for next weekends trip over Stampede Pass, there were only a handful of chasers. I think I got several "professional" looking photos along the way. I will upload a few with this document. I am very pleased, yet sad, to visit my old friend the SPTCo, before it sinks into a sea of Armour yellow. There was no doubt, the yellow tide was already at work. As most of you know, my selective memory works very well, maybe I can use it to my advantage. I will remember the Scarlet Red's and Lark Grey's, but block the Armour Yellow. It seems to be staining everything these last few years. I will always model the SPTCo, maybe not in the 1950's, but never in the late 1990's. Not sure if the McCloud River RR is in any better shape. Not much has changed on the railroad. When I visited last, they were owned by ITEL. Now they are in the hands of a private individual, Michael Forbis, he was vacationing in Hawaii, when Dan & I visited. The crews say he is a nice guy. He is on the property all the time. A real hands on kind of owner. Traffic is slowly disappearing, in fact next month they loose 25% of their business. A paper distributor is moving their warehouse from McCloud to Reno NV. The paper will still move by rail, just not over the McCRR. I sit here now thinking what these two railroads will look like the next time I visit. Only time will tell. I do not mean to lament in this message. I think most of you know how I feel. Oh well, enjoy the pictures! I'll worry about the future later.----RJ

photo4449 East Bound @ Tunnel 1.5
photo4449 East Bound near Hood River
photoInterior Cab Shot of 4449
photoCab Floor of 4449

Day Nine

07 June 1997- Well the BBS was busy the three times I tried to upload yesterday. If you read this on Sunday, I guess I got thru this morning. I normally write the summary the morning after, then upload before leaving the motel. The 4449 was an incredible sight. Dan & I got down the station early. We made sure we rode in the first dome car, first seats, river side. After riding in the dome, I'm afraid any other spot would be a let down. We don't have much time this morning, its 6:15am, the train pulls out at 10. We plan to chase along the gorge. HAM radio and rail fanning is big out here. Yesterday, we had five of us talking together. Two on the train, two on the Washington side, and one on the Oregon. It was a lot of fun. Well Let me upload the messages and pictures. Its almost time to resume the chase.----RJ

photo4449 @ Portland Union Station
photo4449 Front view
photoDaylight Logo, What a piece of wallpaper?
photoRick & Dan in the Thunder Dome!

Days Seven & Eight

05 & 06 June 1997- Semaphores! Semaphores! Semaphores! Semaphores! Yesterday morning we went to the McCRR to view the hidden cache of old equipment. Some interesting stuff. We then headed north resuming our search for SPTCo lower quadrant Semaphores. Three days ago we covered the Siskiyou Sub from Weed California to Siskiyou Pass Oregon, finding they all had been removed. Therefore we started at Siskiyou Pass. Down the grade to Ashland Oregon all we found was concrete bases. I was begining to lose hope. On the northern end of the Ashland pass track we found gold. So awesome was the sight, we had to see one actually move. We raced off to Target to purchase a piece of wire, so we could shunt the circuit. Well after returning to the site, and closely examining the suroundings, I decided shunting the circuit would also trip all the grade crossing gates in Ashland. We abonded that concept. Driving further north, "railroad east", we started running into pockets of them. The line is ABS from Ashland to Eugene, but I would guess 70% of the signals are the UP triangular type. The rest are semaphores. ( I have tried to write the rest of this message three times, I keep losing it!!!! I'm realy late for the 4449, imagine the rest of the story, or wait for tonight!)----RJ

photoSemaphores standing silently
photoEastbound with Semaphores
photoA real CORP Locomotive, Roseburg Oregon

Day Six

04 June 1997- I am sure today is the high light of the trip. Dan & I spent another night in Weed, California. The plan was to go back to the McCRR and get some detail shots around the yard, find the cache of vintage equipment we heard about last night, and then head back north along the Siskiyou (CORP), again in search of Semaphores. Well none of that happened. After checking in with Brenda, the McCRR Dispatcher, so we could take pictures around the yard, we were offered a round trip cab ride to Burney. Well we did not think about it to long! 70 miles down and 70 miles back, along some gorgeous scenery. Trip took ten hours. We switched several sidings along the way. At Burney we rode into the Sierra Pacific mill and spent about an hour switching. Not sure how many cars we went down with, but the return trip was 14 loads. Our chariots for the day were two SD38's, #38 & #39. The crew was a riot. I hope for everyone else's sake, that my Camcorder was still malfunctioning. If not the next meeting I host will be full of video! :-) This morning I had to Macgyver, "temp repair", the camcorder with a Q-tip, Grey Flannel after shave and a tooth brush. Time will tell, if the repair held up. Todays score: 0.08 TPH :-) ----RJ

photoMcCRR #37 @ McCloud Californa
photo#38 with Dan @ Bartle Water Tank
photoDan @ Hwy 89 X-ing south of Lake Britton
photoChip loader in Serria pacific mill @ Burney California
photoCaboose leaving Serria pacific Mill.

Days Four & Five

02/03 June 1997- Dan & I are sitting at 4300 feet @ Signal Butte switch back, waiting for the McCloud River Railroad train to Mt Shasta. It is spitting rain. So far I could not even begin to complain about the trip. Hopefully, I have the BBS problems worked out. Apparently, you are having lots of bad weather which keeps knocking the BBS off line. Yesterdays TPH score was only .5 TPH. Low because we spent most of the day on the McCRR "rail-fanning only". We did catch up with the Burney job about half way down his run. We paced to Burney where they switch the Sierra Lumber Companies huge mill. Next we high tailed it back to the wye at Bartle, then "rail fanned" the Hambone line as far as Hambone. Some very rough roads. Incredibly, we almost have 100% cell phone coverage, where ever we go. ..... It's now 8:08PM tonight, Dan & I just left Siskiyou Pass on the CORP's line from Black Butte to Ashland OR. The one train a day departs Black Butte about 10PM. runs the line at night. We decided to follow the rails, just to see them. We are really in search of SP Lower Quadrant Semaphores. No luck today, but we resume the search tomorrow. Since today was already shot and I had not uploaded yesterdays summary, I decided to combine the two. While at Black Butte this afternoon Dan hooked up two Hobo's. They are local residents, but "catch-out" on a regular basis. He gave us a line on where the CORP's remaining Semaphores are located. Additionally, he steered us to a hidden cache of vintage rail equipment on the McCRR. We already know one stop for tomorrow. One of the guys maintains a WEB page dedicated to Hoboing. I know I've been their before, may try to find it again tonight. Lastly, Chris has said the pictures I have been loading up on the web pages are taking about a minute to down load. He gave me some hints on speeding up the process. I will see if I can speed up the process for tonights pictures. If I get them to load faster, I can send more of them. I have lots, about 30 a day. Todays score: 1.0 TPH / all this "Rail-Fanning" is killing our score. ----RJ

photoMcCRR #38 & tall tall trees
photoCaboose #103 at Signal Butte returning to McCloud
photoCORP #3079 at Weed California / X BN GEEP
photoSPTCo East Bound at Cantara Loop
photoMcCRR #38 south of Pondosa on Burney Line
photoInside the Black Butte Water Tank base, looking up

Day Three

01 June 1997- If you are reading this message I was able to talk the "Home Office" thru rebooting the BBS this afternoon, via Cell Phone, from high a top tunnel # 12. Wait till you see the pictures. Technology still functioning. However, MacGyver, Angus to his friends, had the soldering iron and duct tape in use today. Just minor "Wear and tear" on the equipment, Dan is driving, I'm the navigator. I have not "qualified" him on the equipment yet. Well we got our exercise runnning through tunnel #11, all 1997 feet of it with a SP WideCab on our tail. Let's just say it was not planned that way. After that fine start to our day, it had to get better. It did! We spent the morning between tunnels number 10 and thirteen. They are perched high on the sides of the Cascade mountains. Interconnected with show sheds. We had a blast. After lunch we tore ourselves away to begin our trek south. I am writing this with Mt Shasta again in my view. Tonight we will stay in Klamath Falls Oregon. Spent the afternoon chasing SPTCo between K-Falls and Weed California. Traffic has been very good. Todays score is 1.0 TPH.----RJ

photoWB thru tunnels #10, #11 & Over Noisy Creek
photoEast Bound @ tunnel #12
photoEB @ Frazier

Day Two

31 May 1997- We slept 128 miles from where we started yesterday. Progress was slow, but then we are on the SPTCo. I am surprised about the amount of SP equipment we have seen. From memory, (how good can that be?) we only saw 3 UP units all day long. None were on the point of any trains. Lots of SP / Cotton Belt / D&RGW. Talked to some crews, they say it varies. Sometimes all you see is Armour Yellow. DD's still say SP. Dispatchers user their number, ie: 68, with a slurred SP or UP on the front. Well we want to get track side, ah mountain side, before 7:00am so I will cut it short. The shots from yesterday are all along the Cascade Sub between Crescent lake and the Willamette Valley. Todays score is 0.8 TPH. :-( ----RJ

photoWest Bound @ Oakridge, OR.
photoFamous Salt Creek Trestle, EB Freight
photoDan "Hard at work" Documenting the SPTCo.
photoIf only we had a JEEP! Somewhere near Tunnel 21.
photoWe could have taken the Train. McCredie Springs, OR.

Day one

30 May 1997- I am typing as we BOUNCE along this gravel access road beside the upper Deschutes River. Just finished pacing a three unit freight for 1.5 hours along the river. Dan & I are having a great time. Equipment is performing flawlessly. I told Dan, navigating with a GPS system would be a piece of cake. So far I am 100% correct. Dan and I left the Portland Airport about 11:30am in our white GMC "Jimmy" with only 332 miles on it. We headed north then east out along the Columbia River Gorge. Later in the week we ride then pace GS-4 class, 4449 from Portland to Wishram Washington. I have never been in this area, the scenery is wonderful. I remembered what Paul Voelker had said about the gorge when he visted during the NMRA National convention in Portland. We felt scouting the route in advance should pay off in some great photo locations, later this week. The proof will be in the photos. At Wishram we crossed over the river back into Oregon, and headed south down thru central Oregon. We are following the BN Oregon Truck Sub till it ties back into the SPTCo at Kalmath Falls Or. Most of this line follows the Dechutes River. If you are reading this on Saturday we found a motel in the middle of nowhere with data capable phones. Dan and I have decided to score each day using an experimental formula. We decided to call the rating a "TPH" score. TPH stands for Trains per Hour. Since we are heading fo the motel now, we just ran the calculation. Todays score is 1.1 TPH. ----RJ

photoWest Bound BN Stack Train @ Skaskamania WA. along the Columbia River.
photoEest Local @ Wishram WA.
photoBN South Bound Freight, south of Maupin, OR. (Upper Deschutes River)
photoDan at a full size replica of Stonehenge England.