Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Railroad Sightseeing

Because we went to Alturas on Monday night, we had only about 250 miles to go today, and that meant we could take our time getting started in the morning. I let Lisa sleep in a bit while I dealt with e-mail, then I brought some of the continental breakfast the Super 8 offers (in this case, English muffins and yogurt) to our room. We did a leisurely pack-out, turned in the room keys, and started to leave. I said, "Want to walk down the street and take pictures of the old railroad building?"

Lisa said, "Sure!" and started to dig out her camera. At which point she realized that we'd left her camera bag in the hotel room. Fortunately, the housekeeper had already started cleaning it and the door was open, so she was able to run in and collect it. It would have been very unfortunate if we'd not realized this until we got to Seattle. Fortunately, no harm was done.

Just down the street (indeed, approximately out our bathroom window at the Super 8) is this building that fronts on Main Street (US 395) in Alturas. This was the headquarters of the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway, a narrow-gauge line that ran from Reno through the northeastern corner of California to Alturas and then on to Lakeview, Oregon. After being purchased by Southern Pacific (which standard-gauged the line), it became part of the "Modoc Line" that also included parts of the Fernley & Lassen Railroad and new SP construction from Alturas to Klamath Falls. (This means that there was once a time, just under a hundred years ago, when Lisa and I could have walked across the street from where our house is and boarded a train bound for Portland via Klamath Falls.)

The NCO Building (which by the sign is now an Elks Lodge; I think the BPOE sign is covering where "NCO Ry" was carved into the stone) is imposing looking, but in the bell tower is one of the signs of how the railway was constructed on the cheap: the bells aren't really bells, but painted wood. The current woodwork needs considerable restoration.

After taking the photos, we headed north toward Klamath Falls through the arid forest lands of northeastern California. We mostly had the road to ourselves, but at one point we saw a coyote cross in front of us. I slowed down to have a look. The rather well-fed-looking coyote did not run away, but stopped and looked at us as we rolled past. No photos; we didn't have the camera out at the time.

Near Tulelake, we saw this Union Pacific maintenance of way high-rail vehicle working on the line. As we pulled up to have a closer look, the maintainer finished the work on that section, climbed back into the truck, and rolled off down the tracks to the south.

Stronghold (named for the nearby Captain Jack's Stronghold) is the name of the point where the Union Pacific (ex-SP) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (ex-BN, ex-Great Northern) tracks cross north of Tulelake. In this photo, the UP line from Alturas to Klamath Falls runs from lower right to upper left and the BNSF line from Keddie to Klamath Falls runs from lower left to upper right, with the CA-139 grade crossing in the distance.

That's Mount Shasta in the distance, with the BNSF rails in the foreground badly needing reballasting. It's not obvious in this photo, but there are significant gaps in the ballast under the ties in this area.

We continued on to Klamath Falls and had lunch at the Sizzler across the parking lot from the Holiday Inn Express where we will be staying on the return trip. We also took advantage of there being a Bi-Mart in that same parking lot to stock up sales-tax free on a fair number of items. I bought a year's supply of Breath-Right strips, for instance, which for bonus savings were on sale.

Then it was on to US-97 north. Our next stop was the Collier Railroad Museum, where we've stopped before, but it seems to be a little different each time. We took a short stroll around the grounds, where they've only recently laid in a gravel trail and new interpretive signs. I noted with some dismay that the sprinkler mounted on top of one of the pioneer village cabins was leaking, slowly destroying the roof. When we came back around to the van, Lisa saw one of the park staff, and she went over and told him about the leaking sprinkler. He didn't realize that was happening and had her show him where. He said they'd get that fixed, because the sprinklers aren't supposed to have any pressure in them except when there's a fire.

Unfortunately, the mosquitoes at Collier Park appear to have mistaken the sunscreen that I had liberally applied to be marinade sauce, and I came away with a bunch of bites. Ouch!

By the time we got to Chemult, I was feeling unaccountably sleepy, and Lisa offered to drive us the rest of the way to Bend. We got to the Holiday Inn Express at about 7 PM, which means it took us about nine hours to drive only 250 miles, but we were specifically not hurrying today. (Tomorrow we have a lot more miles to cover and won't be able to dawdle like this.) We picked up some more sandwich fixings from the Trader Joe's down the road and generally took the evening easy. This was made that much easier by the HIX upgrading me to a one-bedroom suite, which is especially nice because I'm staying on points. This will be my last year on Platinum status, I reckon (much less company-directed travel), so it's especially nice to get these sorts of perks while I still can.

More train-related photos in the ongoing Flickr Set.
Tags: hotels, lisa, trains, travel, wildlife.

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