Water tower on Tillamook Bay RR
Motorcars, Speeders and Railcars

On September 26-27, 1997 I made my first run in a speeder. This is a report of that teriffic ride.


Friday 26 September and Saturday 27 September 1997 was my first run with my speeder and I was being mentored by Nick Rost. The ride was a Motorcar Operators West sponsored event on the Port of Tillamook Bay RR from Roy, OR (just west of Portland) to Tillamook, OR and return; distance 171.6 miles. This was the last leg of a week long MOW trip called the Pacific Northwest Tour that included the Nevada California Oregon Railway, the Idaho Northern & Pacific RR Cascade Branch, the Idaho Northern & Pacific RR Joseph Branch as well as the Tillamook.

Set on was 5 PM Thursday evening at Roy. Roy is a spur at a grade crossing near Banks, OR. The set on was easy but very exciting for me as I pushed my MT14M through a spring frog for the first time to park on the siding. The safety meeting on Friday morning was at 7:45 AM. Meet coordinator Chris Baldo and the railroad escort discussed crossing procedures including plans to shunt the signal down near Tillamook where the tracks cross busy US 101.

Approaching tunnel With a combination of farmland, mountain and ocean scenery, this has got to be one of the best runs anywhere. Leaving Roy we traveled across high bridges, around six horseshoe curves, through ten tunnels and along a salmon filled river with fishermen in boats. It was raining off and on all day. In the morning the second growth trees were touched by low hanging clouds. After winding down the 3% grade to Nehelem we stopped for lunch near a winery. They were nice to let everyone use their rest rooms despite the fact that no one bought any wine (no alcohol of any kind allowed in the cars or the occupants).

Pacific Ocean as seen from tracks After lunch the ride leveled out; beautiful fall colors filled our eye. The tracks were draped with golden brown maple leaves. At the coast line the rails turn south for about 20 miles along the ocean. Here we passed more fishermen, saw 15 foot ocean waves, and motored through several small beach towns before arriving at the air museum at Tillamook. Distance from Roy 85.8 miles. After turning around our cars, we toured the air museum situated in a W.W.II blimp hangar 700 feet long.

Approaching Air Museum We backtracked to Rockaway Beach were we parked the speeders on the main track along the ocean. Total distance run Friday was 103.2 miles. We stayed in motels on the beach; the group of about 65 people had dinner together at a local restaurant.

Saturday the weather continued drizzling rain off and on all day. Departure at 9 AM put us back at the winery at 10 AM. The next rest stop was at Enright (mile 811) where there is an old Southern Pacific water tower and the remains of a turntable. Here the grade ascent begins, and here the track became very slick. The car in front of me must have hit his throttle coming out of the first tunnel and lost traction. Took him quite awhile to get going. My first ride and I was able to get moving without any delay thanks to my mentor Nick Rost's advice. He taught me to use the brake very gently to clean the wheels when I'd start to loose traction. Also the guy having problems was slowing down on the dry track in the tunnel and trying to speed up when he came out. He should have left his speed constant.

Slippery track on uphill grade This track section was a problem for lots of folks. The last of the 28 cars was almost 30 minutes behind the lead when we stopped on the high trestle "Big Baldwin" (mile 802.54). From the deck of this 167 ft high bridge we enjoyed a fine view while eating lunch. The rest of the day was dry track and a smooth fast run to Roy for set off around 2:40 PM. Total distance run on Saturday was 68.4 miles. I had so much fun and was so excited that I yelled at the salmon fishermen in the river: "YOU GUYS JUST DON'T KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN!"

I would like to say something about the MOW safety equipment requirements, licensing method and safety procedures that has taken some raps on this e-mail list. I followed the plan: got insurance, took the test, got the car MOW ready, had a mentor on my first ride. Thanks to the rules my car had everything needed. Thanks to the mentor process this new operator has a good foundation. Thanks to the MOW safety procedures, we all enjoyed a safe two day run with no problems. My reaction is you can't argue with success.

Wayne Parsons
Granada Hills, CA

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