We drove the roughly 35 miles south down US-101 to Rockaway Beach, arriving just as the train pictured above pulled in. This Heisler geared locomotive would be the power for our trip on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, which runs trips between Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach on a piece of the former Southern Pacific, ex-Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad.
You board the train through the green caboose, which is where you buy your tickets, not the red caboose nearby that houses the Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce.
While I was taking pictures, the engineer asked if I wanted to climb up into the cab, and I did so. However, this is quite tricky, as my knees are worn from all the walking I'm doing, and there are no handholds once you get to the top of the ladder. You definitely don't want to reach in and grab a piece of hot steel as a hand-hold!
The train has three coaches: the open and semi-open coaches seen here, and an enclosed coach. On the trip south to Garibaldi, I rode the semi-open coach to try and stay out of the sun, and on the return trip the enclosed coach because it was otherwise too cold for Lisa.
At 11 AM, the train whistled off for Garibaldi. Because there are no turning facilities at either end, the train backs south, with the conductor riding the caboose at the leading end of the southbound train, using a whistle for grade crossings, and communicating with the head-end by radio.
This railroad really lives up to the "Scenic" part of its name.
A group of kayakers waved as us as we went by.
Garibaldi is at the north end of Tillamook Bay. I think these are channel markers for entering the estuary.
As we approached Garibaldi, we passed a lumber mill, and I saw a deer run between the stacks of logs, but I wasn't able to get a shot off in time.
Garibaldi is where the OCSR's shops (a two-stall building) are located. I got several pictures of the work they are doing on restoring locomotives.
Besides steam, the OCSR has this bovine-painted Port of Tillamook Bay locomotive and also a EMD F7 Great Northern locomotive, plus other equipment in various states of repair or display.
We had the choice of 30 or 90 minutes in Garibaldi, and after walking down to the mini-market and looking at the selection of eating places within walking distance, we elected to return on the earlier train. We knew the train wouldn't leave without us because the locomotive had gone to take water. This picture shows #2 backing down to rejoin its train.
Soon enough, the locomotive gave the five-minute warning whistle and we re-boarded for the return trip to Rockaway Beach.
I took more photos (and one short video) than what I've shown here. See my Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad album on Flickr for the full set.
We're really glad we got to make this trip. Every year we've been at Seaside when the excursion trains have been running, we've told ourselves we should make the time to ride them. This time we actually made it. We have to keep reminding ourselves that there might not be a next time, or even if there is, the train may not be there.
The excursion train's route follows that of US-101 between the two towns, so you'll see similar scenery driving; however, it's more fun from the train. There are other excursions offered less often, including runs up onto other trackage the railroad operates. Whether or not we'll ever get out here for one of those rare-mileage trips is hard to say, though.