The Road To Winterail

Posted by Robert W. Scott
on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Well I guess, this year it should be called "Waterail" after looking at the forecast for Corvallis, Oregon for the next several days. We were anticipating Mr. Weatherman to have little sunshine icons over each of the days leading up to Winterail, instead he has given us not-so-little rain clouds in the forecast. But Hey! This is the Northwest, we all know if rains, but I guess we just don't realize how much or for how long until you are set in the fifth straight month of dreary gray drippy skies. The weather for the 2016 WR was the best we could ask for. Shooting photos from first til last light with an occasional cloud doing a float-by, and mornings held with fog in the valleys and canyons to compose your shots in. In reading the Justin Franz post, I wonder if he will be excited to see the rain after being in snowy Montana for this long long winter. Those that may not know, Winterail is a multi-media railroad slideshow that took roots in California up until 2016 when it moved to Corvallis. For me, Winterail has three things that are a draw to me. One is the ability to get together and shoot photos in the days in advance of the event. The second is the Winterail event itself with its first class photography, seeing work from both known and unknown talent from around the world. The third and probably the biggest draw for me is the ability to reconnect with friends, some I haven't seen in years, and have the ability to meet with new ones.

Albany & Eastern job departs Mill City, OR with one car on a foggy morning during Winterail 2016

Albany & Eastern job returning from the UP interchange at Albany, OR back to Lebanon, OR - 2016

Portland & Western's Toledo Hauler rolling downgrade into Philomath, OR - 2016

Trading Stockton's street-running for Corvallis "quasi-street running" with the Toledo Hauler - 2016

Whether its trackside, or over a pint of beer the stories begin to flow between friends, talking about their travels, their future travels and what they would like to do and see. Making the annual pilgrimage to Winterail will see me trading in an airplane seat for a three hour car ride with friends. I have lost count as to how many times I have attended this event but I'm sure the number pales in comparison to most. I enjoyed the trips down to Stockton, California, the home to the show up until 2016. It had just the right amount of rail action and unique short lines to photograph as any other place in the west. Corvallis is no different as you ignore the less than stellar weather on some years! The Willamette Valley is lined with numerous unique shortlines as well as the Union Pacific main line from Portland, OR. Where else can you find within a pretty short distance from each other a black widow painted SD9, GP9 and a SD7 still in daily service!

This will be the second time that I will have had the opportunity to be a presenter with this years show titled "The Last of the American Loggers". My very good friend Joel Hawthorn has paved the way for this show in recent years in his coverage of the Simpson Timber Railroad that shut down recently in Shelton, Washington. My show looks at the Simpson, the Weyerhauser and the St. Maries River Railroad and is a slice in time of those unique operations. I am just hoping that my presentation will effect the viewers in a way that it did for me when putting it together. A feeling of both happiness and sadness in the ability to capture such special railroads towards the ends of their working lives. Winterail emcee Vic and Annie Neves put on a first class show each and every year, and does so with the dedicated staff that works in front and behind the scenes. This will be the 39th year that Winterail has been a part of the rail enthusiast vernacular and I am hoping to make many more ventures a few hours "Down the 5" to be a part of this special event.

As the hours close, I am going to steal the saying of my other good friend Ross Fotheringham that he uses before any big trip -  "charging batteries and clearing memory." With rain gear in hand, the miles are ready to be ticked off the odometer when we set out. Destination is the beautiful, yet soggy Willamette Valley for several days of camaraderie, photography and a maybe just a little bit of comedic hijinks in the process. Along with this fantastic show I am looking forward to seeing old friends, and making some new ones!

See you out trackside!!

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