Constant change is the rule in Vancouver. Last week when I visited the depot looking down the alley next to the Great Western Malting elevator was nearly impossible. The scrapper near the depot had piles of scrap and equipment which blocked the view. The next week rail cars blocked the way. This week construction had moved moved the scrap out of away so for the first time in several years I was able to capture an image of Great Western’s plant switcher.
The Port of Vancouver renewed the track recently so concrete ties, fresh ballast. and a renewed surface now replace the track which previously was pretty rough. A new set of automatic switches with switch indicators control the crossover between the tracks. Instead of just 6 cars they now pull 12 to dump. All good changes to improve the flow of business.
The fact remains though that the building structures still tower over the trains here. Despite all of the changes, the trains remain diminutive.
I’ve been away from blogging for a bit. Over the last month or so I’ve worked on several personal photography projects and have just taken a break. As time permits and my projects wrap up I will certainly be posting again.
It amazes me every time I arrive in the dry, arid portions of the Columbia River Gorge and find flowers. My mind always associates flowers with more moist conditions. How wrong my mind is!
When I visited Maryhill in mid-May the Arrowleaf buckwheat and the various balamroots were in full bloom. I spent the day hanging out with friends at this curve west of Maryhill and with the variety of rail traffic I was able to capture several of the flowers along with the train traffic. Since these flowers are such a stark contrast to the sagebrush and usual vegetation out here I couldn’t resist.
My favorite from this cloudy day, is this image of a westbound coal train passing through the rocks west of Maryhill. Not only is there a wonderful flower in the foreground but the rock cut is peppered with even more!
I feel like I sound like a broken record because I’m starting another post with “another trip to the Gorge”. I guess I shouldn’t whine too much because not everyone can easily visit such a wonderful place on a regular basis. I should feel proud to be able to start off another post with ”another trip to the Gorge”, right?
Sunday’s trip to the fabulous Columbia River Gorge was an opportunity to hang out with a friend visiting from Wisconsin. Scott previously lived in Oregon so he wanted to spend the day hanging out in one his favorite places. With sunrise scheduled for 5:18 we decided to leave Scott’s hotel at 5 and find some trains in the morning sun.
Our first stop coincided with the eastbound morning Z train making a meet with a grain train at Cooks. This location was right on the eastern edge of the morning low clouds hanging around the west side of the mountains. In the minutes before the Z train’s arrival the scene migrated from full sun to cloudy. Of course just before the train arrived the sun disappeared altogether. Thankfully the sun came back just enough to highlight the subject and give me this wonderful photo.
Throughout the rest of the day we visited Rowland Lake, West North Dalles, MP 99 on the UP, the Lyle rest area and associated rock out croppings, the rock spires at MP 81.5 on the BNSF, and finally Rowland Lake again. In the middle of the day we stopped in for a nice lunch in The Dalles and relaxed while the trains took a break and the sunlight was less than optimal. The middle part of the day had plenty of lulls so we engaged one another in interesting conversations ranging the gamut of rail related topics as well as technology, science, and some politics.
Near the end of the day we found ourselves at Rowland Lake again. BNSF lined up 2 trains to head right into the sun so we found our various locations around the lake for photographs. I chose to capture this photo of the evening Z train between the Oak trees. Now, before you say “wow, you had great luck with the barge and tow boat Steve”, understand this is a composite photo. The barge passed through the scene about 9 minutes prior to the Z train. I felt the combination depicts what actually happens quite frequently on the Columbia River so I chose to put the two images together.
That’s it for this Gorge visit. Someone else approached me about a July or August trip so it looks like “another trip to the Gorge” is in store!
A westbound grain train hauls another 110 cars of export grain west to meet up with ships to haul it overseas.
This post is a continuation of a series of posts about my visit to the Gorge in April. You can find the first two posts here and here.
After last photographing the grain train east of Bingen, I drove east to meet up with my friends who’d taken up station at MP 116 east of Maryhill. I figured the fastest way to them was the old highway past the Stonehenge Memorial. I calculated I’d arrive at the crossing and find the grain train rolling past. As I descended the hill I could tell the train hadn’t arrive yetg so I jumped into position to capture it rounding the curve near the east switch.
As soon as I’d fired off a few test shots the grain train’s headlight appeared under the U.S. 97 overpass. After a moment for a breath I captured this image of the train winding around toward the east switch with Wy’east (Mt. Hood) towering above. This location is one of several popular locations between East Wishram and the John Day Dam for railfans to capture a train and Mt. Hood in the same scene.
Railfans in the Northwest sure are lucky! Where else can this sort of scenery be captured so readily?