During the NRHS National Convention in Portland, OR, hosted by the Pacific Northwest Chapter, one of the key events was something they billed as the Western Star Excursion running on the 6th from Portland to Wishram and back. Little information was provided about this excursion, but just as nature abhores a vacuum, the internet abhores an information vacuum and rushes in to fill it. That naturally occurring phenomenon was further stimulated by the fact that there really were complications arising in the final weeks prior to the excursion.
But every obstacle was dealt with and the excursion came off just like it was meant to be. If you missed it, the photos here and on www.sp4449.com will have to suffice, because who knows when or if such a thing will happen again. An exhausted NRHS chapter member, asked when the PNWC might host a national convention again, replied, "Not in my lifetime."
The PRPA expresses our thanks to NRHS Pacific Northwest Chapter, Amtrak, and BNSF for making this possible. We are sure the Friends of the 4449 feel the same. Also, thanks to Ken Storey and Dan Schwanz for permission to use their great photos.
Leaving Union Staton. Photo by Ken Storey.
Leaving Vancouver. Photo by Ken Storey.
Probably at the west end of the pre-CTC siding named Hood, at the east end of which is the old Broughton Lumber Company resaw mill at the lower end of the famous lumber flume. Photo by Dan Schwanz.
Photo by Dan Schwanz.
Photo by Ken Storey.
Probably at Avery. Photo by Ken Storey.
On arriving in Wishram, the first task was to detrain the passengers for their lunch, catered by Buster's Barbeque. However, many chose to shoot photos first, and eat later. Photo by Terry Thompson.
Fireman Pat Tracy and Engineer Doyle McCormack on the SP 4449. Photo by Terry Thompson.
Turning on the wye. Photo by Ken Storey.
After turning around. Photo by Ken Storey.
The entire train has been turned on the wye. The next task is to swap engines, putting the SP 4449 in the lead for the return leg. At this point, the SP&S 700 has already pulled away to get on another track. Photo by Terry Thompson.
Now the SP 4449 pulls away also. Photo by Matt Baccitich.
Photo by Matt Baccitich.
The SP&S 700 backs up to couple on to the train. The SP Daylight colored car it will join is the auxiliary tender. By swapping positions, each locomotive used its own tender for one leg of the trip and then used the combination of its own tender plus the aux tender for the other leg, avoiding the need to take on water at Wishram. Photo by Terry Thompson.
Now the 4449 backs in to make the join. Photo by Terry Thompson.
SP&S 700 service crew. Linda Vanderbeck, Dan Sandor, Jon LaTendresse, and Matt Baccitich. Photo by Terry Thompson.
Amtrak confab. Left to right, Amtrak Portland engineer Jim Abney (also one of PRPA's two engineers for the SP&S 700), Amtrak Portland Transportation Manager / Road Foreman Dick Schneider, Amtrak Portland engineer George Landrock, Amtrak Portland conductor Tom Matlock. Photo by Terry Thompson.
Shooting the rods. Photo by Terry Thompson.
Sample view of the Columbia River Gorge from the train. Photo by Matt Baccitich.
Photo by Matt Baccitich.
Both engines move slowly on the curved track by the roundhouse. Photo by Terry Thompson.