Albany’s Water Avenue is a gift for rail fans like me. The old Oregon Electric track runs down the middle of the street for seven blocks, and right next to it for 14 more, giving us a close look at train operations. And sometimes a different sort of rig.
For residents on Water this is nothing new. For passersby like me –usually on my bike — it’s a matter of being there when something interesting goes down the track. On Monday, I managed to free my phone barely in time to record the passing of this machine:
The Portland & Western leases the track from BNSF and uses it for daily freights to and from Eugene. Which reminds me: How about the occasional excursion train for paying passengers interested in seeing the hinterlands of the mid-valley from the window of a passing train?
The Albany & Eastern Railroad, based in Lebanon, does that sort of excursion, running between Lebanon and Sweet Home. Judging from the accounts and photos that appear on social media, it’s always a great success, a memorable occasion for those who take part.
Portland & Western was not opposed to that kind of thing when it was still based in Albany and operating as the Willamette & Pacific. In 1993 the railroad took people on a one-time excursion from Albany to Toledo and back. In 1996, if memory serves, it briefly ferried people to and from North Albany during the winter flood.
As a working railroad that’s part of a big international concern (Connecticut-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc.), the PNWR’s first obligation is to run a successful business. But a little extra, such as connecting with the public by means of occasional passenger runs, would not come amiss.
Especially in Albany, where a segment of the track runs down the middle of the street in one of the original parts of town, such a project would truly be a gift. (hh)