When my father was growing up, he used to hop freight trains to travel the country. I can’t endorse this form of travel, dear readers, but it was free, got him where he needed to go in a couple days’ time and from the stories he tells us, it was a whole lot of fun. I’ve stood next to a river in Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho looking up at a train track that wound around a mountain and listened to my father tell me about the times he hopped a train on that very track, and say looking out at the town, legs dangling over the railing. And when he helped build Hungry Horse dam on Highway 2 in the Montana mountains, he frequently hopped trains to visit his sister in Minnesota.
When I was in high school and later in college, and I had all the time in the world, I bought my passage to Oregon on Amtrak. The trains were staffed with charming young men from UCLA, who told me they “rode the rails” during vacations to make extra money. Heading north to visit my friends in Canada next month, I’ve vacillated about taking a train or driving. A round trip ticket from Portland to Vancouver, BC can be had for less than $100.
I have a new article in Oregon Coast Magazine this month that profiles the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society in Toledo. The museum, made up of old railway cars, tells the tale of how in years past, trains brought passengers to the coast and transported logs to other areas of the country. The old steam engine has a thousand stories, if you’re curious enough to listen.
Visitors to the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society tend to include a number of past railroad workers with grandkids in tow. In addition, Thomas the Tank Engine has spawned a whole new generation of young children who know about railroads. For any visitor, taking a tour of the 1923 Railway Post Office car, 1922 Baldwin Steam engine and the Southern Pacific #573 wood-sided caboose and learning more about railroad production in years gone by is an exciting and memorable event. All aboard!
Toledo, Oregon 97391
Hours: 10-2 Tues- Sat