A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Not an emergency, but call was answered

Written July 8th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

This sign proved helpful Friday. It’s at the pedestrian and bike rail crossing on Pine Street.

Those phone numbers posted at rail crossings? Guess what: Somebody actually answers when you call.

I found this out on a bike ride Friday after watching for a while and wondering what was going on at the crossing on Santiam Road:

After I turned the camera off, I made the call to the number on the sign. I got a recording that said: To report a malfunctioning crossing gate, press 2.

I pressed 2 and a guy came on. I described what was happening. The gates at the Santiam Road crossing had been down and the lights had been flashing for some time, I told him. Impatient drivers were taking a chance and going around the gates.

He checked (I assumed) and told me a train was indeed due to come through, though it was still stopped out of sight. I asked what kind. He said it was Amtrak, apparently stopped at Albany Station.

The crossing gates went up, the lights stopped flashing, and the vehicles in the queue moved across.  I thanked the guy and ended the call.

Just then the crossing arms came down again.

And here it came Amtrak’s Cascade, heading north toward the Santiam Road crossing on Friday afternoon.


This was one of the trains provided for the Cascades service by Washington state.

I don’t know what caused the Santiam Road crossing gates to be down for so long before the train actually approached.

While many drivers patiently waited, others ignored the warning lights, evaded the gates and went across.

Never before have I called the emergency number posted at a rail crossing. This was not an emergency, but it was reassuring that somebody — not just a machine but a real person — answered at the other end. (hh)

2 responses to “Not an emergency, but call was answered”

  1. thomas earl cordier says:

    wow–almost unheard of. Sign likely to be changed with a QR Code soon.

  2. George Pugh says:

    Oh my, QR Codes!! What would my grandfather have thought.
    Back in the day, early teens of the 20th century, my granddad and his brothers had a thrashing machine, pulled and powered by a steam tractor, and they did custom thrashing for neighbors as well as themselves. Anyway, the thrashing machine got high-centered on a railroad track crossing south of Shedd. My granddad dispatched a thrashing crew member to run up the tracks and stop the approaching train.
    The train didn’t stop. The brothers had to buy another thrashing machine, and my grandfather went to his grave distrusting trains.

    A cell phone might have been enough to short stop the collision. But QR Codes? I still don’t get how to use those squiggle things.


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