|A view from the train platform of the charming little 1906|
Lutheran church in Elbe. Come early, seating is limited.
Our group started from the Center just before 8 a.m. because the sunlight, and thus the photo opportunities, fade significantly after mid-day at this time of year. The low-lying fog was burned off by the time we crossed Puget Sound and moved inland.
We had reservations on the 12:45 p.m. trip and we were required to be on the platform by 12:30. The trip from Sequim was estimated to take just under three hours.
|The waitstaff in the restaurant were not happy to be sitting|
around with nothing to do since the national park is not
open at present. Some of us decided to eat here to help out.
Although all the national parks are closed because employees have been furloughed by the government's closure, the scenic railroad is a private operation started in 1981 and is run largely by devoted volunteers with some equally committed paid staff.
Our drive took us past Mineral Lake, a milky-grey-green colored body of water. The color is caused by the waters coming down from the Mt. Rainier glacier with bits and pieces called "glacier flour"being moved downstream by the rivers into the lake.
As we arrived, on the right side of the road are a number of brightly colored cars and a couple of cabooses, which are part of a motel offering sleeping accommodations. Other cars provide an innovative place for pizza as well as a more structured dining option.
|I wonder if the sleeping accommodations are improved over|
what the railroads might have offered in 1890?
Just below you can click on the raw video of the train arriving in the station, complete with steam whistles and bells. (Perhaps that is where the expression "all the bells and whistles" came from"...)
|Winding through evergreen and deciduous|
woods, the train travels slowly past farms
and now-empty fields that once had homes
for the pioneer loggers.
|Looking out from the back of the train.|
This town was once a bustling and prosperous lumber center, but is now dependent more on tourism than logs with the 2010 Census showing only 10 households listed for a total of 29 people in the town.
The 40-minute ride to Mineral through the foothills of the majestic sleeping volcano of Mt. Rainier ends with an approximately 45-minute tour of antique logging locomotives in what will one day be a very extensive museum of early railroading.
|Old equipment on a spur waiting for a benefactor to restore it.|
|Peeking into the inferno...|
|The fireman opened the door where, in older coal-fired|
engines the stokers would have shoveled in coal.
|The engineer works for Weyerhauser for his regular job.|
|The fireman explained in simple terms how water and oil|
are used to create the necessary steam to drive this engine.
I imagine the staff would do all they could to make it possible for someone in a wheelchair to be included, but it would definitely be something to call ahead about. I found everyone to be most helpful, although there was a sort of casualness about the train's time schedule, after hearing we had to be on the platform on time.
Watering the train between runs took more time than usual, probably because the volunteers are only to willing to spend a few minutes talking about trains. But if you want to ride up with the engineer and fireman when they are backing up, all you have to do is ask.
During the spring and fall, I would recommend the late morning or early afternoon run because as we were heading back, the lowering sun and cooler breezes made for a cooler return trip. This is very important for children and elderly riders as the cars are not heated.
|Mt. Rainier appears to have a fresh suit of snow and the Nesqually River|
was running clear on this lovely bright fall day.
As the sun shone down on my face and I listened to the train's whistle as we approached the crossings, I was easily able to recall being about 4 years old, riding with Pat on the narrow gauge train we had in our back yard.
|Me, on my first train ride - a long time ago. I think the|
photo credit should go to my father, but finding it for the
blog the credit goes to my younger brother.
|Maybe I really am a Hobo at heart...|