NRHS NATIONAL CONVENTION, PORTLAND, JULY 4-10


Great photo of our doubleheader taken by Steve Eshom from the Oregon side of the gorge. Click on the photo for Steve's website and many more train photos.


What an experience, and what a pleasure to be a member of the Pacific Northwest Chapter, sponsor of this year's convention in Portland. I finally got a chance to actually contribute just a teeny bit to the effort, compared to what the guys and gals who planned and organized it did. Before the opening of the convention there was a lot of negative comment on the internet about lack of information. I kind of like basic math. The initial release from the chapter said "Portland" "700" "4449". Hmmm, one plus one equals TWO, doubleheader. I signed up for the "Western Star" steam special immediately. I was not disappointed.
I arrived in Portland on Tuesday, July 5. Many attendees were riding the Lewis and Clark Explorer RDC cars to Astoria and some were touring TriMet's MAX Ruby Junction facility. Keith Fleschner had assigned me to registration duty after 5PM, so I headed to the Brooklyn roundhouse.

Both 700 and 4449 were steamed up. Richard "Durango" Hie was painting the trucks on the Nickel Plate Alco PA. This place is amazing. Doyle liked the looks of the PA trucks in the white primer.

Hmm, just like government. One guy working and three watching.

700 backed out of the house onto the turntable, and it was obvious that the doubleheaded steam power was getting ready to move to Portland Union Station.

I went to the Doubletree to check in and go to work at registration. There I met a number of very interesting people, both volunteers and attendees. John Tucker, thanks for the training. Jim Loomis, thanks for the every day running of the registration desk.


Wednesday July 6 was my "Goof off" day. I had a ticket to ride the Western Star steam special. Buses got all 570 or 600 of us to the Depot on time. We departed Portland Union Station at 0938, eight minutes late. I have ridden up the Columbia Gorge several times on steam specials, and it was really interesting to see folks from other places in the US and other countries take in the beauty of the Gorge. I finally got a shot of Cape Horn tunnel, this time from inside the train.

This was one beautiful event, two 4-8-4's Doubleheaded.

The SP&S 700 led the train on the way out to Wishram, WA, where everyone was fed a great barbecue lunch and the train turned on the wye. Look at the crowd waiting to photograph us at Avery.

Switching operations were interesting, as the SP 4449 took the lead for the return to Portland. After solving a minor air problem, we left Wishram.

Here we are westbound, 4449 leading.

The view from the Milwaukee SuperDome. Wow!

There was also a trip on the Willamette Shore Trolley today. We arrived back in Portland about 40 minutes late after taking the hole for the Amtrak Empire Builder and another time to check a defect detector report.


On July 7 I didn't have a specific assignment, so went to the room where the PNWC Chapter was selling memorabilia. There I met two of the most dedicated volunteers in the chapter, Ted and Cora Ahlberg. These two wonderful people manned the sales booth for all the time it was open, sometimes for 15 hours in a day. This day would be one of those. I am sorry I didn't take any photos of this. Other events on this day included a Brunch Cruise on the sternwheeler "Rose," and a Columbia River Gorge tour on another riverboat. Much later, like 10PM, there was a night photo shoot at the roundhouse.
July 8, Roundhouse Tours. Al Hall had recruited me for this task long before the convention started. About 20 of us arrived at the roundhouse before 7:30 to conduct tours of 16 busloads of attendees during the day. Al had it set up such that we would sort of circle the perimeter to keep people from wandering into UP territory and keep others out. Each time a new bus arrived we rotated to a new position, keeping it from being boring, and positioning us at times for railfan photos.

Here are some of those photos. We even had to direct some "bo's" into town. The actual tours were conducted by the engine and volunteer crews of the 700 and 4449.

About 11 o'clock, the skies opened and dumped a lot of "Oregon Sunshine " on us, as predicted. The engines continued to perform a trip on the turntable for each busload of attendees who arrived.

The folks from the ORHF clowned it up for the group and sold a lot of souvenirs. Here's Dave and Laurel, two of the most active members of the ORHF.

This was a day full of seminars and NRHS meetings at the hotel. Some of the seminars I wanted to attend, but this was more fun. Later in the day we would attend the banquet at the hotel.

The guest speakers for the evening were Steve Lee, Manager of Operating Practices, UPRR, and Doyle McCormack, CMO, Friends of the 4449, President, Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (ORHF). Have any of you heard of these gentlemen? Ever seen them without their RR running garb on?

Their speeches on the future of steam in the 21st century were an absolutely memorable, and hilarious, event. I cried tears of laughter. They have missed their calling.

For those of you who attended the convention, here are some of the people responsible for it. Al and Judy Hall, facing the camera, two of the very active members of the chapter.

Ron McCoy, current president, PNWC-NRHS

Arlen Sheldrake, Chairman of this great convention, with Steve Lee


I went home on July 9, but the convention went on with a trip to the always entertaining Mt. Rainier Scenic Railway in Washington, and a breakfast at the Portland Zoo and trip on their steam locomotive.

Continue to Sherwood Trip


Back to Home page

Page created July 12, 2005, revised August 12, 2005.