Mo & Terry Smedley
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Portland to Astoria by Budd Car
September 2003

From May through September, the Oregon DOT ran a set of three self-propelled Budd RDC (Rail Diesel Cars) on the Portland & Western route along the Columbia River from Portland to Astoria.  Nicknamed the Lewis and Clark Explorer, the excursion service has proven wildly popular, selling out virtually every day it ran this year.  It will be back in summer 2004 - book your tickets now!

The rail route between Portland and Wauna is regularly used for freight service.  Beyond Wauna to Astoria, there has been virtually no rail traffic for many years.  The line was restored beyond Wauna especially for this excursion run to celebrate the Lewis & Clark bicentennial.

The RDCs were purchased from BCRail when it discontinued passenger service in 2002.  We got a chance to get one more ride on our old favorite BC-10, the car that took us all the way to Fort Nelson in 2001.

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The Budd RDCs are lined up at the Portland & Western "depot" in Linnton (Northwest Portland) The Lewis & Clark Explorer The train rumbles beside the Trojan nuclear plant The tracks run in the middle of the street through Rainier.
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The bridge to Longview at Rainier.   Many crossings of small streams and sloughs are made. The route takes you right through the middle of GP's tissue mill at Wauna.
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  Past Wauna, the roadbed is cut right into the rock beside the river. Many remnants of past fishing or other waterfront activity.  
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Interesting structures dot the sloughs.      
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Portland & Western workers man the manually-opened bridges between Wauna and Astoria. The Astoria Coast Guard station. From town, we walked all the way up to the Astoria Column.  That's quite a hike! This was supposed to look like the tower is growing out of Mo's head.
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The Astoria Column underwent a thorough restoration several years ago. The artwork on the exterior of the Column is exquisite.   Terrific views from the top of the Column, some 164 steps up.
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    I wasn't all that thrilled with the exposure at the top. There's an old JCPenney store in downtown Astoria - it looks just like the JCP store I grew up with in West Seattle
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An interesting Fish & Chips "restaurant" What a magnificent sight - the Budds lined up next to the Astoria station    
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Two sets of tracks in town for the train & the waterfront trolley.     MP 99.8 on the Portland & Western route
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Looking back up at the Astoria Column from the waterfront.  We found some interesting wine at the Shallon Winery. Quite an urban renewal - these are new houses built on the reclaimed site of the Astoria Plywood mill pond.   Plenty of evidence of fishing on the inlets and rivers on the way home.  Look carefully - you can see a sunken boat in this picture.
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Good old BC-10 (the "BC" has been taped over).  This is my favorite place to ride - the rhythm of the wheels is hypnotic, and the smell of the diesel engine permeates the open space between the cars.  Fertile agricultural country between Astoria and Wauna.  We passed corn fields that extended unbroken for miles. Several mills still operating along the route.  
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These two girls led their horses on a "train chase" for quite a distance.  The train was traveling about 35mph, and they had no difficulty keeping up.     From Astoria's Shallon winery - plum, peach, cranberry, and CHOCOLATE wine!