A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Up for yet another train-watching episode?

Written October 22nd, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Seen from Fifth Avenue, a Portland & Western freight heads toward us from Second on Oct. 22.

You’d think that sooner or later, I’d get tired of watching trains go by. But as you can see, that day has not yet come.

Here’s the afternoon Portland & Western freight from the direction of Corvallis on Friday after it has crossed the Willamette River and is heading for the Albany yard.

As happens most days, the engineer halted the train before reaching Second Avenue, with most of the cars stopped on the bridge across the Willamettte.  The train has to wait until the engineer gets clearance to enter the yard.

The last time I checked on this, some years back, the clearance had to come from the Union Pacific, because getting into the yard meant crossing the UP main line.

Years ago, these trains were much longer and the wait for clearance occasionally caused their tail ends to block Spring Hill Drive and North Albany Road on the other side of the river. To prevent this, the railroad built a new track leading toward the Millersburg yard.

But for a reason I don’t know, these trains from Corvallis still turn into the Albany yard instead of going to Millersburg. And so they wait on the bridge. (hh)

6 responses to “Up for yet another train-watching episode?”

  1. James Engel says:

    As a kid I was a Lionel guy (three tracks) while some friends preferred the American Flyer (two track proper) style. Those were the days way before electronic devices hijacked a kids interest. Trains still interest me. Sure wish I’d taken the trouble in ’71 when I moved down here to go thru the railyard (with permission of course) & photographed some of the old railcars with long ago logos on them.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Now imagine that photo with overhead electric lines. Heck, gasoline lawn mowers are being banned in California. It won’t be long before our rulers ban diesel locomotives. They simply are not green enough.

    But only about 30-35 percent of the energy generated by a combustion engine transfers from the steel wheels to the steel rails. Electricity transfers about 95%.

    So the future is bright for rail freight, just not powered by diesel.

    It will make for a different experience for you train buffs.

    No longer will you enjoy the growling and vibration of multiple diesel motors. You’ll have to get used to the buzz of an electric one.

    • thomas cordier says:

      Gordon–as I understand it– the diesels turn electrical generators which drive electrical motors turning the wheels. The term is hybrid power. The NE US Amtrak trains are powered using an overhead catenary system So US freight and passenger train energy efficiency is quite good. Perhaps HH would ask if local freight trains are hybrids

    • Tom says:

      We are a long ways from going full battery supply to power locomotives. Diesel to electric motors can provide better fuel efficiency and in the case of freight trains, move freight across this country with 3 to 4 times the efficiency of trucks. Class one railroads note the ability to move one ton of freight nearly 500 miles while only using 1 gallon of diesel fuel.

  3. In Training says:

    Thanks for posting another train video –

    More hand-drawn rail road monikers going by,

    2:04 Referee’s whistle, Whistle Blower.
    2:13 Masked rat riding a rocket, Rocket Rat.
    2:17 Faint “Crobar”.
    2:21 Face in a black heart, Clawhammer.
    2:23 Masked rat, Rocket Rat.
    2:26 “Boxdoc”
    2:58 Cut-off shorts, Buter Belt.
    2:59 Two large (black and white painted dog profiles in square frames), Box Hounds.
    3:05 Box Hound.
    3:07 Skull with wings, BookMan. Banjo, Clawhammer.
    3:27 “Boxdoc”

    Continuing a 100 plus year old, although illegal, tradition.

  4. P. Richner says:

    Unless I’m in a big hurry, I enjoy being stopped by a passing train, especially if I’m the car at the front of the line. To me there’s something marvelous about those metal monsters.

    I enjoy your videos too and hope for more. Thank you.


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