A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Work on the rails never stops …

Written March 14th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

[youtube video=”BfkXY4TyHYQ”]

Lately it seems as though the Portland & Western is doing lots of maintenance on the old Oregon Electric track in and near Albany. Anyway that’s the impression I got on a bike ride in spring-like weather Thursday afternoon.

Near the grade crossing on Riverside Drive, the operator of a ballast-spreading machine was busy, well, spreading ballast. I had never seen that done this way. The operator was just about finished there, but I caught a few seconds of the work in the video above. Sure beats shoveling the rocks by hand.

The crossing gates evidently had been shut off for this work. Otherwise they would have blocked traffic as long as that machine was working close by.

My ride out Riverside took me back to town via Bryant Drive. On Water Avenue, a crew was doing a different kind of work. Straightening out the rails, one of the guys in hard hats explained to me. He pointed east, where we could see up-and-down and sideways undulations in the rails. The working of this machine (video below) is intended to take care of that, as I understood the explanation.

Replacing cross ties was part of the job. Hundreds of brand news ties had been stored along the track east of Burkhart Street. Now they’re gone, having been put under the rails where they belong.

All this work follows an extensive job last year replacing many of the timbers on the trestle across and along the Calapooia River.  As you pass under the track at Bryant Park now, the penetrating smell of creosote is almost gone. All you get is an occasional whiff that reminds of all the work done there. (hh)

[youtube video=”n18c2k7-vVY”]

Some of the cross ties stacked along the track back in February.


8 responses to “Work on the rails never stops …”

  1. centrist says:

    Ahhh work that was once done be a section crew (gandydancers) with shovel, hammer, and jackingbar. Brutal work. But it was employment for my maternal grandfather in his youth.

  2. Collin Ansell says:

    Thanks HH for the videos on the track maintenance work.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Well…..if this is a jobs issue then an anecdote from Milton Friedman is in order:

    At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines.

    The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.”

    To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

  4. S. Whittle says:

    It isn’t the Canadian Railroad Trilogy, but Hasso never claimed he’s a balladier.

  5. Sarah says:

    Sometime a video and some history about the railway electrical station out that way would be fun for people.

  6. John Allen says:

    Thanks for videos like this, Hasso. Very interesting work we don’t see normally. And a BIG thanks for taking your videos in the proper horizontal format. So many nincompoops use vertical format and pan back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…..you get the idea.


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