March 23, 2002

Railfan General Discussion
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BurlingtonJohn
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Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:28 pm

March 23, 2002

Postby BurlingtonJohn » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:35 pm

18 years ago today on 23 Mar 2002, the day that so many of us had dreamed of finally arrived. 4449 was going to lead a train in her American Freedom Train colors. I could be wrong (and usually I am), but I think this was the first excursion pulled by AFT 4449 since the Amtrak ferry move that brought her back to Portland in 1977. The first big obstacle was that the 23rd was our daughter’s 3rd birthday and the Boss laid down the edict that I was NOT going to be riding or chasing some steam engine on Amanda’s birthday. She lost! But, to be fair, that little 3 year old is now 21 and I have to hear EVERY year how I left her on her birthday. I think meeting Doyle and the big “red, white & blue engine” on the evening of the 22nd tamed her a bit ….

That I was on this trip was nothing short of a miracle. The tickets for the excursion sold out before any paint scheme was measured, but when I saw the picture of the tender with white paint, I didn’t think twice. I spent two days at the roundhouse doing whatever I could do to assist in the preparations which consisted of staying the heck out of the way most of the time. It was good to see Doyle again and to meet (at last) some of the crew that I’d been visiting with via the internet. Great bunch, dedicated and hard working. Heck, I was even able to manage a cab ride when 4449 took a spin on the turn table at Brooklyn. I figured that was going to be the extent of it and that I’d catch her near my brother-in-law’s house in Camas. I didn’t plan on chasing as I wasn’t familiar with the territory and I figured that the motorcade would be insane (it was).

Until the afternoon of the 22nd. I was introduced to George Lavicott (I hope I spelled that correctly). He was in charge of the trip and he cut straight to the chase. Evidently he’d been briefed on who I was (really nobody special, just a big fan). George said he understood that I wanted to ride. He also asked if I was aware that they were sold out. Yes to both, but I said I made the 1,000 mile trip just to see her. He then asked if I was willing to work in exchange for a ticket. Ya think! Of course I was. He said to be at the Portland depot at 0600 (I think) and to look for him. I knew my brother in law would be thrilled at the prospect at having to get up so early, but there was no way I was going to miss this.

I arrived at the station around 0545 (hey, I was in the Navy. If I had arrived at 0600, I would have been late in my book) and found George. He introduced me to “Daylight Dave” of Daylight Sales and told me to help him. George didn’t have to tell me twice. I helped Dave load boxes of shirts, sweat shirts, jackets and other items into the “Better Idea”, a former UP baggage car that was being used for concessions and memorabilia sales. Current fans will know the car as the Gordon Zimmerman (a long time 4449 volunteer and ORHC benefactor), resplendent in Daylight colors. There was an area at one end of the car that was set up with shelving, a glass display case and counter to facilitate sale of anything/everything 4449. The auxiliary tender was lettered with the words “Let’s Roll” and a large American flag as a tribute to all those lost on 9/11.

Doyle cracked the throttle open and we slowly departed Portland, crossed the river into Vancouver and turned east for the trip along the Columbia River. I think we had a service stop in Wishram before we turned south and headed down the Deschutes River towards Bend.

This photo was taken at our one and only photo runby for the day. I received permission to go and shoot pictures. I think the exact wording was “go foam” and to have fun. It was pretty cold and the photo line wasn’t the most disciplined, but as is with all things, I tried to work around it. More tomorrow!

Regards,
Burlington John

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