Thursday, February 29, 2024


SP locomotive engineer, outstanding model railroad craftsman, and friend, Dave Clune, passed away in late February.  Our model and prototype railroad worlds are richer by far for having had his presence among us. 

Dave worked out of Eugene for most of his career as an SP locomotive engineer.  Eventually that brought him seniority to hold down a regular role in helper service.  His early career had the usual jobs such as engine hostler around the Eugene terminal facilities.  I leaned on that experience to gain a better understanding of the modern locomotive traction sand facility that will eventually translate into my model of that facility.  Dave’s “tales of the rails” working up the Cascade “Hill” were punctuated with humor—a hallmark of Dave’s personality.


Dave Clune (left) and I taking a break at the end of an ops session in June 2016.  My other photo of Dave from this session shows only his back as he works on the RR-East switch at Wicopee—very characteristic of Dave to be hard at work.


When I began regular operations on my model railroad mainline, Dave would arrive at those sessions and immediately ask where the current problem switch or trackwork was located.  He would then grab my track tools and proceed to tweak the offending track area.  He could see things my eyes could not detect.  Over time, my railroad became more reliable, although the six-axle EMD locomotive models still find ways to frustrate us at switches!  



Dave Clune (right) works with David L. and Pete H. on a BRLAT (trailer train to Los Angeles) as it works uphill over Noisy Creek Trestle in the background.  This scene from March 2018, shows the railroad before terrain formation.  The tunnel portals and liners are installed awaiting my efforts with insulation foam slabs and Sculptamold.



Dave was a wonderful resource for history on the Cascade Line and the industries served.  His memories had direct impact on my models of National Metallurgical in Springfield and the one oil dealer (Skillern Oil—source of the Clune’s heating oil) I placed in my Eugene industrial district.


Dave Clune (dark shirt, center) confers with other crew members at Oakridge.  Dave had one of the helper jobs on the Hill—just like his prototype SP job.  This was my January, 2023 operating session, the last time Dave made it up from Eugene.


Dave’s own modeling focused on his Cascade County narrow gauge railway in On3.  He was highly regarded in the narrow gauge community for his craftsmanship and artistic talent.  He generously shared his skill and talent with others.  


Dave Clune’s Cascade County Rwy in On3.  Dave was an artist in both two- and three-dimensions.


Throughout all, Dave brought wisdom, skill, and humor to our shared rail hobby and passion.  Dave Clune was a gentleman’s gentleman, a term I apply with extremely high regard.  


Rest In Peace, Dave.

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