A major rail enthusiast event for me in mid-March has been Winterail. This rail photography exposition has been a feature for me from early on from my working in California as it began in Stockton in 1978. Winterail features presentations of rail photography tied to music. Think Ken Burns does railroading. A few years after my retirement and return to my native Oregon, Winterail followed as Producers Vic and Annie Neves also moved to the mid-Willamette Valley. With that, Winterail now uses the Corvallis High auditorium, a modern, comfortable facility. The 45th Winterail was presented March 18 in Corvallis.
Winterail 2023 opening up in the Corvallis High auditorium.
This year’s Winterail was the usual mix of old and new/current. It began with a teaser of film footage put together by Warren Haack of Catenary Video Productions from the Western Rail Museum archives at Rio Vista, CA. This featured color film shot of railroad topics in the 1950s with an extended set of scenes shot by Stan Kistler on the Westside Lumber Company operation out of Tuolumne, CA. Shown for Winterail was a fifteen-minute teaser from a much longer video that Warren markets under his Catenary Rails business.
From there, we moved through a presentation by Associate Producer Evan Werkema documenting the mergers over the past couple of decades that created four large rail systems out of seven former large systems in the US. Evan’s quirky sense of humor and editing touch were in full evidence, resulting in a delightful show.
After a lunch break, we got a taste of the new with a presentation by a now-17-year-old (new blood!) on the Tacoma Rail operation on their “Mountain Division”---“The Hill” up from the Tacoma tide-flats and toward Morton, Washington. This took me back, as a friend and I scored a cab ride on this same stretch of railroad forty-plus years ago when operated by Weyerhaeuser’s Chehalis Western.
Additional good presentations followed, many prompting memories for me of places I have been and rail operations I have seen. New sights were shown, as well. We saw “Slavic Steam Survivors” featuring several current working steam operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We also saw two good presentations imported from the similar Summerail event held in the eastern US.
Winterail is a great annual gathering of rail photographers and enthusiasts from the West (mostly). It becomes a great place to meet and catch up with friends with the shared interest of railroading. Winterail has been a regular feature of my annual calendar. That improved and strengthened for me with it move to Corvallis.