Last week I was editing an image of the Daylight for an upcoming project. While I worked on it my mind wandered to the locomotive and how far it and its Portland based sisters have come. All three have gone from work a day locomotives to retirement (and possible scrapping) to restored to operating (well, almost for the 197). Now, in just a matter of weeks their new, permanent, home and repair facility will officially open.
Many will bemoan the demise of the Brooklyn Roundhouse, but we as railfans have to throw out the romance of history for a moment and look to the future. In fact we have to do just what the ORHF (Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation for those readers not familar) did. When the organization started, Brooklyn acted as a home but there was always a feeling of temporariness about it. In 1996 when SP merged with UP in I think the fears about the future just increased. Visitors at Brooklyn were welcome however there was no official welcome mat thanks to the fact the roundhouse was on private property. With no stable, guaranteed permanent home the future of the locomotives seemed a bit (steam) clouded.
There was too much investment all three locomotives to let the effort drop just because there was no building. The result was the ORHF. From virtually nothing the ORHF organized, rallied support, raised funds (just over $5M according to their website), shook hands, gave cab rides, and entertained a lot of people. They, more importantly, formed a vision for the future to ensure that not only would the locomotives be preserved but future generations would have a place to visit and enjoy them.
Now, the results of their vision is about to open its doors.
For me and my family this very exciting. My youngest daughter is enamored with the Daylight, 700, and 197. She loves them. If they had just disappeared she would have been very sad. As I write this today the future of the three locomotives is very bright and now throughout her life my daughter will have a chance to experience the romance of steam up close and personal. She can can touch, see, and smell what steam is all about. Oh, I’m sure I’ll enjoy my visits too!
At this point, I say go support what you love. Contribute in some way to your favorite (rail related) organization. I have contributed to what I (and my kids) love and now I’m seeing the results.
A couple weeks ago was National Train Day and while I was photographing the event at Portland Union Station I was looking for unique angles and photos that were a bit different that the standard shots of the equipment amongst the crowds. We had gray and intermittently-stormy skies which let to things being wet. At one point I created an image looking down between a Superliner and SP Daylight observation car that were on display. The gray skies, wet pavement, and smooth reflective cars made for an interesting photo.
For those curious about technical details, this is a three-shot HDR image, tonemapped in Photomatix followed by some localized color correction in Photoshop and then a bit of clarity/sharpening in Lightroom.
This year I was not motivated to fight the crowds to see the 700 arrive in Vancouver or ride behind the Daylight at the Holiday Express. Why, I can’t say, maybe I’m steamed out? I did want to make sure my youngest daughter was able to get her Daylight fix so I got over my lack of motivation and headed for Oaks Park. On the way we ran into the 700 simmering away at East Portland and stopped to enjoy it. We moved on to Oaks arriving around 9:20. We spent some time wandering around the Daylight taking in the sights, sounds, and smells as the volunteers readied for the 10:00 departure.
On our way out I spent some time wandering through the concessions tent and eventually settled on some items that I just had to have. While my purchase of these items isn’t individually going to build a home for the steam engines it certainly was another incremental contribution to the larger cause. Based on what I saw of ridership and the people milling around the tent lots of incremental contributions were being made!
I’m very happy to see these Christmas runs continue. It seems they have generated interest in the community and I feel it is this community interest and support that will ensure a future home for the steam we all enjoy. Despite my ambivalence this year it seems the rest of the community is on board and supporting the ORHF’s cause. Do you?
“Excuse me, what does it burn?”. Just like he has many times before Doyle McCormack carefully explains not only what the Daylight burns but the history and operation of steam locomotives. As president of the ORHF Doyle is always working to raise awareness of the ORHF’s mission.
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