A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

At Albany Station, waiting for a train…

Written February 6th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

[youtube video=”TPO7ZjJc6is”]

Albany once was served by 50 passenger trains a day. Now there are six. But that’s still better than nothing, I’m thinking as I’m waiting for Cascades Train 507 to arrive from Portland Tuesday night.

The trains we have, the Coast Starlight and the schedules of the Amtrak Cascades, serve travelers going north and south in the I-5 corridor. I haven’t taken one lately, but I’ve been to the station to see people off and pick them up.

It would be nice if Albany Station was open longer hours, though I understand why it can’t be. As it is, passengers arriving on No. 507 can’t check their bags in Portland, no matter how heavy. With the station closed by the time the train arrives in Albany, there’d be no one to unload or retrieve them.

The Coast Starlight trains are long. As I noticed earlier Tuesday as train No. 11 stopped at Albany Station, passengers might benefit from guidance as to where on the long platform to board their assigned car. As the video shows, a few people hiked from one end to the other and back before a conductor opened the right door and helped them get on.

Speaking of trains, you may be wondering whatever happened with the big plan to upgrade passenger rail between Eugene and Portland. That project was begun in late 2011. Just last fall ODOT conducted public meetings, including one in Albany,  about the draft of an environmental impact statement. A final statement choosing a preferred route is to be published this year. Then nothing more will happen until the feds come up a few million dollars for track improvements and lots of other things. In other words, people now retired won’t live to see expanded passenger rail.

As for those 50 trains? I got that nugget from Polk’s Linn County Directory of 1913. Of Albany, the directory said the town of 7,500 was “connected up with all the surrounding country by many radiating railway lines, and has passenger service at the present time of fifty trains a day.”

That’s the sort of thing you remember reading when you hang around Albany Station on a winter night, waiting for a train that’s half an hour late. (hh)

Outside Albany Station, between trains, on a winter night.

11 responses to “At Albany Station, waiting for a train…”

  1. OscarHult says:

    It would indeed be nice if the station was open longer hours. We take the train to Seattle a couple of times a year. I will say though, even with the station not staying open, I’d rather ride the rails than take interstate five to Seattle.

  2. OscarHult says:

    FYI: The Amtrak app is great for keeping you updated on the tardiness of the train. It really helps and planning when to be there.

  3. H. R. Richner says:

    This marvelous video on how Americans take a train could be priceless in the European media market. It reminds us of the story about how J.C. Penney, who would always look right and left out the front door before closing the store at the end of the day.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Another story about Mr. Penney was one of the ways he would “gauge” potential men (only at that time) to become store managers… After a meal with them, he/they would go to the restroom to wash up. Mr. Penney would observe how many towels they would use in the process. If they used more than one, he scratched them off his list thinking they were probably spendthrifts and a not a good candidate to watch their expenses…

  4. Ted says:

    Hmmmmm half hour late. Must have been due to heavy traffic.

  5. Ted says:

    Gotta love it when you try to post a comment and get an error message that says “You’ve already said that”. Maybe it will show up later.

  6. S. Whittle says:

    Loved your incorporating video to broaden the story. You are becoming a multi-media auteur in these parts.

    Might I suggest adding a music track (no pun intended) to further enhance your railroad story telling. Listed below – a tune appropo to the seminal meaning of your visual homage.

    I checked at https://www.pdinfo.com/pd-song-list/search-pd-songs.php and found that this particular version is in the Public Domain, allowing you to musically underline the Albany Railroad Station Experience at no charge.

    Railroad Blues
    1920 – w. Haven Gillespie, Howard Washington, m. C. Luckeyth Roberts

    You might be able to download it from the Library of Congress, if they’re not shutdown. Keep up the good work.

    Will you be producing and internet-distributing any of the West Albany vs S. Albany high school basketball games on your web site? The games might not be PD.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Thanks for the advice. But no, high school sports is not on my beat.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Veering further off-topic into irrelevance, the “day the music died” has advanced from Dec. 31, 1922 to Dec 31, 1923, and will continue advancing by one year in each subsequent year. Soon it will reach into the era of electrical recording (about 1926). This was supposed to have started 20 years ago but was prevented by lobbying by copyright-forever promoters like the big movie studios. Used to be that copyrights only lasted 28 years from publication, renewable once for a total of 56 years. Over-protection of intellectual property is one of those things – like our stupid drug laws – where the U.S. has been a world leader.

  7. Bob Bush says:

    So as I understand it, we, the Oregon automobile license plate renewing public, are still subsidizing the two Amtrak trains that run from Eugene to Portland and back to the tune of $10 million each per year???….correct me if I am wrong…..and you still have to buy a ticket. Might be able to build a overpass near Queen street or maybe another lane on the choke point going up the current overpass or even a little programming to alternate traffic lights at Southbound Pacific near Geary. You know…two left lanes….two right lanes….instead of a Gran Prix 4 lane start…..like the ole cartoon characters on the way home from church….

  8. Alan Liesse says:

    50 trains would include those on the nearby Oregon Electric as well, not just this station.


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