Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad
May 28-29, 1996
Leaving Eugene with a busload of 39 people and somewhat cloudy skies but no rain, we followed I-5 to the Market St. exit at Salem and drove to Silverton Rd, and Cooley Iris Gardens near Silverton. This was our morning rest stop and everyone enjoyed the show garden with all the different colors and varieties of iris. We were also treated with coffee or tea by the Cooley Gardens and “Bette Bars” and cookies by the Bus Committee. Three generations of Cooleys have been breeding and propagating tall bearded iris in the Willamette Valley since 1928. Now iris are grown on 250 acres!
Leaving Silverton, we traveled north to Exit 212 and then on Hwy. 25 to Sandy where we stopped at McDonald’s and picked up John Thomas and Mildred Weatherby. We followed Hwy. 26 to Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge. It was spitting a mixture of snow and rain and was quite windy. There was still a considerable amount of snow on the ground as we neared the Lodge and we had no view of the mountain. We were glad to get inside where fires were burning in the huge stone fireplaces. Everyone scattered for lunch — some eating in the dining room (reservations required), some at the Y-East Cafeteria across the road, and some eating packed lunches beside the fireplace. Afterwards we were shown a movie about the building of the Lodge by the WPA around 1935 and its dedication by then President Roosevelt. We were also given a tour of the building and some of its unique features were described.
Leaving Timberline, we continued on the Loop Hwy. (26), stopping close to Hood River at Panorama Point, which offers spectacular views of orchards, forests and Mt. Hood. We checked in at the Mt. Hood Historic Hotel (built in 1913 and recently restored by Mr. Pasquale). The hotel offers a package including room, a social hour, dinner, breakfast and the train ride: these were all furnished in first-class manner and the food was excellent. Most everyone had fresh king salmon with a shrimp tarragon sauce, while others had chicken salt n’bocca.
Next day we gathered at the Mt. Hood Scenic R.R. station at 9:30; they seated us in train #1070 with comfortable seats with reversible backs. The train left at 10:00 and followed the beautiful Hood River for five miles and then went through lush pear and apple orchards, past fruit warehouses and lumber loading docks into the town of Odell, past pioneer homesteads and a nearby sawmill to Dee, “the Company Town that was”, into the upper Hood River Valley to the railroad’s southern terminus in Parkdale, an early cultural center for the county and with incredible views of Mt. Hood. On this day the top was obscured by clouds. Close to the railroad’s stop in Parkdale are picnic tables, eating establishments, a museum and gift shop. The train stopped for an hour before returning to Hood River. The railroad serves not only as a tourist attraction, but also still services some of the fruit packing plants — its original purpose when first bought from Union Pacific in 1987. A considerable amount of money was spent to restore the rails for its tourist run after last winter’s flooding; evidence of the damage is still visible.
Our bus met us at the train in Hood River and we drove home, via the Columbia River Gorge Hwy. and skipped our stop at Multnomah Falls, arriving home at 5:30. Many thanks to Ewart Baldwin, Ray Jensen and Clair Cooley for their interesting information about history and geology of the areas we passed through. Also thanks to our good driver, John Bunker.
Riders were: Ewart & Margaret Baldwin, Rita Baxter, Mary & Richard Bentsen, John & Marian Borchardt, Ingrid Carmichael, Mary Lee Cheadle Clair Cooley, Margaret Fea, Liz Fox, Betty Haralson, Flora & Herman Hendershott, Evelyn Hile, Rosella Jones, Jean & Ray Jensen, Virginia Kapsa, Helen Knowlton, Dodie Leppmann, Marie Loome, John & Lenore McManigal, Barbara & Walter Miller, Frances Newsorn, Virginia Prouty, Liz Reanier, Edna Robertson, Kathleen Schlenker, Mary Stanford, Joyce Swan, John Thomson, Louise Thurber, Mildred Weatherby, Cristy White and Bette Hack (leader).