Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Hey guys. the desert is getting hot out here and we're staying out of it this weekend. Enjoy yourselves this weekend and remember what Memorial Day is all about while your enjoying it. See you at Bitter Creek in August, Brian

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Joshua Tree Goes to Train Mountain Narrow Gauge Meet 2009

On the first weekend of May in Chiloquin Oregon for the last three years has been the Narrow Gauge meet at Train Mountain. A private little party of like minded narrow gaugers. The expanse of Train Mountain's miles upon miles of track with only a hand full of trains operating.

The bulk of the engines and cars that make it up to Chiloquin for this weekend are the same engines that travel south to run out here at JT. Ron Schmidt, Peter Moseley, Bill and Holy Boller, Burns' and Beard, Allan, Brian and Greg Ratliff, Becky and Ray Bjerrum, Bruce and Mike Thompson, Jeff and Kevin Tolan, Paul Lavacot. So it is our unofficial run day for us. And Bill Shepherd just walks out his front door from his darn near complete summer home.

The rest of the attendees of notice are the regular travelers from afar. Bill Dobbs with his empire of rail cars from Pennsylvania, Bruno and Trudy Platzer from Nevada, Rich and Linda Ulin from Colorado and Tom Artzberger from Colorado as well. Tom delivered yet another RGS #20 on his way to the meet; more ng engines. The rest of the folks at TM for the weekend are the regular group that shines and polishes the railroad for the upcoming season. So, this is the first run of the year really upon which we get to see the railroad as it is emerging from the winter and spring is doing its thing.

This years operations were hampered by the weather more then in the past. The weatherman predicted it to rain and it did at least sometime every day. Sunday it rained and tried at times to lay down one last blanket of snow but it didn't stick too long.

After pulling an all nighter to reach our destination Greg and I made Chiloquin about 6:15 Friday morning, we unloaded the trailer and headed to breakfast at Maleta's, the off site center of attraction for the weekend. With their rooms for rent, some people stay there and the restaurant gets plenty of business from breakfast to dinner as well. By the time breakfast was over the steaming bays were bustling with jacketed activity. It never quite got warm all day and the vapor shots were awesome for the photographers. Every body made it out and soon one would think that they were the only engine out there at times.

If last year the Elizabeth Loop wasn't far enough from civilization for you, the new single track extension is just the ticket. Heading up the grade from the end of nowhere this new track works its way up the gentle valley and at present ends at a Wye, with the roadbed graded forever it seems towards the great north. I was crewing with the Shay's, double headed of course, with the Thompson boys leading up ahead on the C&S Mogul when we reached the Wye, radio contact had Peter and his train behind us back at the loop and it was communicated to come on up. Soon there were three trains at the end of track and upon descending back to the loop there were two more trains waiting to tackle the hill when we cleared. When our group stopped for lunch a steady trickle of activity passed for our dining entertainment.

Operations on Train Mountain are different that you will see everybody in the steaming bay in the morning but they can totally disappear for a whole day and never pass you. I saw RGS #41 once during Friday's run briefly yet everybody that ran that engine was soot faced from running somewhere all day. I only saw Ray and Becky on Saturday because they where stopped in a siding, and they ran all weekend too. Or you'll pass a train going in the other direction on the serpentine, never to pass again all day. Out in the flat land in the distance one might see a train wondering through the forest but they are on a different loop. With the Shay's double heading, one could hear them but where they were was any one's guess. Shay's in a forest are like Huey's in the jungle; they're there, you can hear them like thunder, but where?

Sunday morning a thin coating of snow greeted the early risers. Then it would split rain, try to snow some more, my chance to fire up the Mogul and play. It was cold, ugly and fun at the same time. Mike and Nathan accompanied me down the serpentine and around the Midway for a few photo runby's in the snow flurries. It never got a blanket of white on the ground, but it wasn't for trying. Then it was back up the hill in the heaviest it tried to snow. Good fun, us southerners don't get snow days very often. By 11:00 the sky was starting to clear and it even warmed up a bit. Drying out and allowing all of us to pack it all away in our vehicles for the trip home. Another interesting weekend at Train Mountain. Next year the meet will move back two weeks till after Mother's Day to try for a little less inclimate weather.

For a peek at the photos of the weekend;
Train Mountain Narrow Guage Meet 2009