Oregon Coast locomotive chugs along after nearly a century

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This steam train has been going since the early 1900s

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A nearly 100-year-old logging train is brought back to life. Now, instead of wood, it carries passengers along the Oregon Coast.

At the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, there’s a lot of behind the scenes work that the operators must do in order to get this 1920s steam locomotive up and running.

Thompson is one of the operators who spend countless hours maintaining this nearly century-old train.

“It’s both very simple and very complex,” he said.

It takes anywhere from 3-5 hours to heat the steam engine up for its day of traveling to Rockaway Beach. Operators get here as soon as the sun comes up, greasing the barrings, and making sure everything is in working order.

“Every engine is unique, every engine has a backstory,” Thompson said. “This engine, for instance, is our movie star locomotive.”

This train got its big-screen debut in the 1975 movie “Bound For Glory” and then again in 1986, appearing in “Stand By Me.”

But back in the 1920s, this engine would tug logs from the woods to the mill.

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad steam engine from the 1920s. (Courtesy: Martin E. Hansen Collection)

“This train was actually used in Northern California in the Ponderosa region and worked in the woods near McCloud, California,” Thompson said.

Aboard the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad you’ll not only find kids but kids at heart, as well.

Thompson told KOIN this train really brings the joy out in people.

“The kids really light up when they see a steam locomotive and then you see the adults acting like kids when they see a steam locomotive — it really brings out the joy in people,” said Operations Supervisor J.J. Thompson. “It’s kind of like being the zookeeper for dinosaurs, you’re seeing something that you don’t see every day.”​

With ocean views as far as the eye can see, the steam engine takes its travelers from Garabaldi all the way to Rockaway Beach. The train offers an experience unlike driving down the highway.

“You actually go slow enough you can see wildlife,” said Thompson. “You actually get to see and be a part of the scene you’re going through instead of speeding by it.” ​

The steam engine possesses a nostalgia of another time and place that makes you slow down and appreciate where you are, who you’re with and where you’re going.

“We’re trying to keep that tradition alive,” said Thompson.

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad offers this Garibaldi to Rockaway Beach ride now through September.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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