A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

If you like trains, here’s something for you

Written October 20th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

There’s a little paved path across the old Oregon Electric Railway tracks at Burkhart Street in Albany. It’s on one of my bike routes through town, and I spent a few minutes there on October 8, trying to decipher the lettering that graffiti artists had left on the cars.

I couldn’t read most of that stuff, but I gather it’s not the point of these works to be understood, at least by the likes of me. I do admire some of the coloring, though. Whoever creates these renderings must have a pretty good budget for paint.

If you like trains and have about six minutes to waste, take a look at the video below.

The crossing serves people in the quiet neighborhood to the north of the tracks. They can use it if they walk to and from Waverly School or the commercial areas along Pacific Boulevard to the south.

It’s on a segment of the rail line that’s an extension of the Portland & Western’s Millersburg yard. So now and then, the crossing is blocked as the railroad builds trains in the yard, going back and forth across the streets to the west when the trains being built are as long as this one was.

If you watched the video, you may have noticed that the old switch engine still bears the name of the Willamette & Pacific, the shortline created in 1993 from local and regional lines of the Southern Pacific. The W&P later was combined with the P&W, another shortline formed by the parent company of both.

“ASER CRAE SEMFE” were three of the words sprayed on one of the cars that could be read. No idea if they mean anything. Google Translate didn’t come up with anything that made sense under the circumstances.  So I’m pretty sure — or hope — they aren’t dirty words. (hh)

5 responses to “If you like trains, here’s something for you”

  1. John Allen says:

    I love railroads – hate the graffiti.

  2. cal sweet says:

    1972-1978 when you could drive across the tracks.. someone closed the road off, blocked by a guard rail. I went back and forth crossing that area rain or shine… memories.

  3. In Training says:

    While not as colorful, I enjoy noting the various “streaks” or “monikers” done in crayon. This practice goes back to the late 1800’s. (It’s also illegal.) Of the many that went by, I recognized a few of the more well known ones that may be seen on many rail road cars across the US.

    3:29 & 3:43 Mustached face with U.S. cap goes by “Scout” or “Coal Train”.
    3:47 Faint profile of a dog within a square is known as “Box Hound”.
    4:13 The bat is “Texas Gothic”.
    4:54 Face with cap, actually spells its name, “Clawhammer”.
    4:45 Circles with 7/08 looks like a ref’s whistle and is “Whistle Blower”.

    Helps pass the time while waiting for the train to roll by.

  4. H.R. Richner says:

    Somehow things seem better with the world when I’m able to watch your trains go by.
    Thank you.

  5. George Pugh says:

    I kind of miss waving to the free-riders in the open doors of the box cars and the brakeman in the caboose. Now there are no cabooses.
    I was a student at OSU when catching a train ride to Toledo was good sport.
    Then the legislature made it a “theft of service” offense. In reality, it was probably a good safety move.


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