Sunday, March 18, 2018


Continuing a very full month of model railroading and rail activity, this has been Winterail Weekend in Oregon.  Winterail celebrated its Fortieth Anniversary Show on Saturday, March 17, at Corvallis High School.  Winterail is the original rail photography combined with music and narration show that has spawned clones elsewhere.  It remains the premier West Coast rail photography event, even with its move north from Stockton, CA, three years ago.  The change of venue reduced attendance—no longer close to the California population centers, but numbers have been climbing and all are impressed by the Corvallis High School facilities.  Those facilities were built around ten years ago—long after I graduated from CHS.  Over four hundred people attended this year’s Winterail.

Wintereail begins with a railroadiana sales event that occupies the school cafeteria.  Increasingly, I find myself browsing the tables, but mostly catching up with friends—both from my old days in California and now my new Oregon friends.  All of this has come a long way, as I recall attending one of the first Winterails in the Sacramento or Stockton area and many since in Stockton. 

Winterail 2018 Railroadiana Show/Sales preceding the photo presentations.  Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society Vice President Scott Inman (right, dark ball cap) is selling SPH&TS books, including the latest by Bob Morris (left, gray and maroon cap).

After noon, the formal Winterail presentations began with an outstanding show on the Apache Railway—a survivor through 100 years.  That set the keynote for subsequent presentations, generally of western railroading, but some East Coast  material snuck in.  I immediately recognized the coal yards at Newport News, VA, from my Army service there.  That was part of a presentation that dealt with both East and West Coast subjects.  Producers Vic and Annie Neves gathered a great line-up of presenters and their work for this Fortieth Anniversary show.  Congratulations and thanks to all who produce, create and support this great rail event!

Producers Annie and Vic Neves take the stage to introduce Winterail 2018.  Sorry for the low light photography here.  The presentations were FAR better than my poor attempt here to convey the beautiful facility now used for Winterail.

Taking advantage of folk travelling to Winterail, I hosted a group of my California (including one now from Arizona) friends for an operating session on my SP Cascade Line on Friday.  Two years in the making, the timing worked this year to make possible such a session.  Seven “Boomer” operators joined fourteen of my regular local crew for a good, fun, operating session.  I chose to pick up where we left off at the end of the regularly scheduled operating session two weeks ago, rather than construct a special train line-up.  Still, the visiting operators got a good sense of operations on my railroad. 

The session began with three trains out on the railroad, left over from prior sessions.  Amtrak No. 14, the northbound Coast Starlight, was added to this mix at the clock start.  Eventually, both directions of the Oakridge Turn were run and the first Springfield local was sent out to do their work.  Historically, the Oakridge Turn would depart RR-Westbound from Eugene and proceed to Oakridge where it did most of the local switching work.  After an eight-hour rest period, it would return to Eugene via Westfir, switching the sawmill there.  My outbound Oakridge Turn had worked in a previous session, so it was prepared to return to Eugene via Westfir for this session.  It needed to await the passage of Amtrak No. 14 before it could leave Oakridge.  From that beginning, we kept the Boomers busy all day, running about an hour later than a typical operating session.  I think everyone was having fun!

Conductor Don M. and Engineer Pete H. guide Amtrak No. 14 past Westfir.

With Amtrak No. 14 past them, Engineer Jim B. and Conductor Tom D. (back showing) guide the returning (RR-Eastbound) Oakridge Turn into Westfir to switch the sawmill.  Up in the mountains behind them, Pat L-T controls his RR-Westbound up-grade, while Helper Engineer Joe B. watches and controls the slack action with his mid-train helper locomotives.

Tom D. and Don M. control another freight RR-Westbound uphill out of McCredie Springs.

Action at Salt Creek Trestle commands even more attention now that the trestle structure has been completed.

John B. guides another train down-grade over Salt Creek Trestle.  In the background are Jim B, Pete H, Don M, and Dave S.

Early in the session, Yardmaster Rick A, is organizing the work while West Switcher Seth N. talks with the crew of the soon-to-depart First Springfield local freight job.  Dave H. has his back to the camera and Bill M. is observing the Eugene Yard. 

Dispatcher Dave H. issues block authority to a train crew.

The steel Dispatcher Panel and magnetic tags provide a graphical way for Dispatchers to keep track of the action.

A layout owner’s job is never done.  I am dating new batteries to go into a throttle.

Several other local operating layouts also took advantage of Winterail to host sessions for visiting model railroad operators this weekend.  There are many good reasons to join us next year for Winterail 2019!

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