The city of Portland owns several steam locomotives, and two of those are currently in operating condition with a third in the process of being restored. They may be viewed at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and from time to time they operate special trips. The annual Holiday Express is the most regular annual event where it is possible to ride behind the locomotives or see them in action, but every year there are usually other trips that are offered.
In the 1950s, the city of Portland had a plan to create a transportation museum near The Oaks amusement park in southeast Portland. To that end, a number of odd items of railroad equipment were donated to the city. Only four of those items remain inside the city of Portland. In order of their restoration, they are:
"Peggy": a Shay type steam locomotive that is now on display at the World Forestry Center
Southern Pacific 4449: during the 1970s, this locomotive toured the country as part of the "American Freedom Train", having been painted in a special red white and blue color scheme. While the locomotive is owned by the city of Portland, the non-profit group that is dedicated to its restoration is the Friends of the 4449.
Spokane Portland and Seattle 700: this locomotive once powered fast pasenger trains between Portland and Spokane, where they connected to trains going east to Chicago. The group responsible for its restoration is the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association.
Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company 197 (which later became the Oregon Washington Railroad & Navigation Company, which later became part of the Union Pacific railroad. The locomotive was last known as Union Pacific 3203): This locomotive is the oldest in the city's collection, having been built in 1905. Restoration work continues on the locomotive by the Friends of the OR&N 197.
Except for the "Peggy" these locomotives were in storage in an inaccessible location up until early 2013, and unable to be viewed by the general public except when they are doing special public displays or excursions. Today they are available for public viewing at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. See the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation web site, below.
The photo of SP&S #700 was from a trip to Salem on May 14, 2005, and the photo of SP # 4449 is from the 2007 "Holiday Express III" trains operated in southeast Portland.
The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (web site below) is an umbrella group working to find a more permanent home for the locomotives. Their web site is probably the best one for finding out about various events these locomotives may be attending.
Photo number 5 was contributed by Carol M.
I have a video of 4449 running along the Springwater Trail in Sellwood.
They are pretty serious at trying to keep Portland weird! I had the pleasure to visit the Rimsky-KorsaKoffee House in South East Portland. The location is a house, which is really fun! It has a very eclectic style, I loved the wall paper. And most days they have live music. I love the playfulness of the menu, you can get a coffee and portland's best banana split!
After drink many coffees one might have the opportunity to venture to the second floor to use the facilities. As you walk down the hallway in search of the bathroom door, you will read messages on the other random doors such as "Don't enter" or "Not this one either" or "don't think about it". Then you open the bathroom door to a dim light and a creepy creepy mannequin sitting in a kayak. He has a creepy chucky movie feeling as he smiles at you as you do your business. I hated him. He didn't have thumbs so I was sure he couldn't grab me.
I heard from Portlanders that mannequins are very popular in bathrooms around town. Ugh.
By heading out 30 miles East of Portland on Highway 84 or Scenic Highway 30 you can explore the mighty Columbia River Gorge. There are great views and small towns by taking the much slower Hwy 30, where you can enjoy numerous waterfalls and scenic view points. The tallest waterfall (2nd in the US) is the Multnomah Falls. Latourell Falls is one of the first major falls on Hwy 30. Most have nice hiking trails where you can walk to the top of most of them.
A recent (October 26, 2011) paragraph in the Willamette Week newspaper notes that the Lone Fir Cemetery has been named #9 on the list of Top 10 Cemeteries to Visit by National Geographic. Among other things, they were apparently impressed with the program that allows for planting a tree or garden as part of memorializing a person. Also, they apparently liked the mishmash of diversity found here: modern, pioneer, wealthy, immigrant, patients of Portland's first mental hospital, and unknown and unreadable are all found here.
This cemetary was founded about the same time as the city of Portland. It is located on the east side of the river between SE Yamhill and SE Stark. There are still new graves being added. When Lone Fir was founded in 1855, transportation within the city was difficult at best. Later cemetaries were built at the top of hills, but getting up to the top of hills before the days of the streetcar lines and other railways that came later was a huge problem. Thus, Portland's oldest cemetary today has a very humble location.
Tours are offered, and the Friends of Lone Fir web site has more information (see below).
Modern grave stones for eastern European persons (see photo #2) almost always seem to be the most intricate stones in the cemetary, and in many cases very well decorated.
Lovejoy, credited with founding the city of Portland on his tombstone, remains here. Many other famous and not so famous people lie here: freemasons, Christians, Asians, modern stones and those over 100 years old, and many others side by side in death.
Some of the older graves are being taken over by the trees (see photo 3) planted to decorate the graveyard, and unfortunately the old graveyard chapel (see photo 4) is in a sad state of disrepair.
The graveyard includes a Monument to the Army of the Republic, including Civil War veterans, American Indian War veterans, and Spanish-American War veterans.
There is also a garden, created in 1956, of "Roses of Old Oregon" which is a tribute to the pioneer women of Oregon who brought roses with them on their way west.
UPDATE!: Powell Butte Park has returned to accessibility after a huge construction project closed the main parking area. From time to time during the spring of 2011 it may still be closed during weekdays, but for the most part it is open regularly now.
This park is located on a rise in the far eastern part of Portland - east of Interstate 205 and almost to Gresham. It is bordered on the north by Powell Blvd. and on the south by the old Portland Traction Company railroad line (now made into the Springwater Trail). To get there by driving, turn south at 162nd Avenue & Powell Blvd. To get there by bus, it is possible to get to various entrances on buses #17 and #9. #10 is a little further away, but still possible to get there by using a bike trail from SE 138th Avenue.
There is a view point with a number of points of interest to the east, north and south visible. On a clear day one can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and a number of lesser peaks in the Cascade Range. Looking north from the viewpoint at the top of the hill it is possible to see across the Columbia River to Camas, Washington. Looking northeast you can see the start of the Columbia Gorge.
Sometimes, you can find interesting birds here, including kestrel and hawks, and occasionally ducks will take refuge in some of the large puddles that form after rain.
Various trails here may be used for horse riding, mountain bike riding, and hiking.
Areas of the park are forested. Much of the park used to be a dairy farm, and the open fields attract various animals. There are also trees that date back to early orchard plantings.
About 40 miles South of Portland, just outside the community of Amity is the Brigittine Monastery. The Brigittine order was founded in 1370 by St. Birgitta of Sweden. While performing a full monastic horarium, the Order helps funds itself by selling fudge. You can buy the packages in nearby towns, we decided to make the pilgrimage and visit the Monastery. As we parked we were welcomed by several gregarious cats. They were extremely happy to see us. The grounds are very tranquil. There is also a warm chapel.
Da Tung may be translated as "universal peace" or "large bronze" and large it is! This elephant sculpture was a gift to the city of Portland by a resident of Xi'an, China as a gesture of goodwill and evidence of his belief in the importance of cultural exchanges. Owning a foundary helps: Mr. Huo Baozhu, owner of Five Rings Bronze Foundry in Xi’an.
The young elephant standing peacefully on his father's back symbolizes safe and prosperous offspring. It is a replica of a wine pitcher from the Shang Dynasty (cira 1200 - 1100 BC) but is about sixteen time larger than the original. Xi'an Bao Bao means "baby elephant".
This gift to the city of Portland had its origins in Portland having a Chinese sister city.
There has been some thought about the sculpture being moved to a new location.
The web site below is a link to the Regional Arts and Cultural Council information on the sculpture.
The sculpture is located in the southernmost or the North Park Blocks, at West Burnside Street and NW Park Avenue.
This little sculpture is at the very far end of Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and is a monument to the friendship that has existed between Portland and Sapporo, Japan for 30 years (at the time of its installation in 1990).
Unfortunately, in recent years, the sculpture is showing its years. The music that is supposed to play from the sculpture sometimes doesn't work. The one-time plaque that describes the sculpture in English has apparently been stolen, leaving only the Japanese version.
Of course, like most things in Portland, it tends to look a little worn around the edges in winter but come spring it will look much better.
While it is reasonably well known among Portland locals, particulary those familiar with Portland bird watching, Smith and Bybee Lakes Park is definitely not on the normal tourist agenda.
These two lakes are in the far north end of Portland, near interstate 5. to get there exit I-5 at the Marine Drive exit and go west on Marine Drive. Immediately after going over a bridge over a railroad line the entrance to the park is on the left side of the road. Bus route #16 goes by here, but only on regular weekdays - there is no transit service here Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
This park features several paved trails that lead to areas that are good to observe birds. The lakes are a popular locaion for various migrating birds to stop during their journey, or for those from colder climates to spend the winter.
There are currently two bird watching shelters and a place to launch canoes, kayaks, or other small non-engine water craft for exploring the lakes with a paddle.
The web site below is for the Friends of Smith and Bybee Lakes.
At one point in time, it appeared that this valuable wildlife area would be turned into a garbage dump, and in fact part of the area served as the Portland garbage dump into the 1980s. Wiser heads prevailed and the area was preserved as the valuable area we see today.
Before the "civilization" of Oregon, Vaux swifts (tiny birds that feed mostly on insects) mostly inhabited hollow trees or other such natural cavities. With the coming of civilization, they soon discovered brick chimneys as a nice substitute for the nearly disappeared old growth forest trees.
Old industrial and commercial brick chimneys were particularly good, and so as time went on some 35,000 Vaux swifts came to call Chapman School's heating plant chimney home. It is thought this is the world's largest colony.
In 2001, a fund raising effort resulted in Chapman school getting a new heating plant, and thus they no longer had to worry about becoming frozen during the months that the swifts are here, and the Chapman chimney became a permanent wildlife preserve of sorts.
After swifts are done nesting and raising their juveniles, they congregate in large migratory flocks. This generally happens in September, and thus the best month to try to see the swifts is September. By mid-October or so, the swifts are gone.
I have put a video taken on the evening of September 19, 2008 on virtualtourist so that you can get a small impression of the sight. The stream going into the chimney lasts about 30 minutes, and there is a huge crowd gathered to watch, with some of the children passing the time by sliding down the hill on cardboard "sleds". (see photo 3 for a picture of the crowd on hand on Sept 19)
Bring a telephoto lens if you want to get good photos of the birds! The reason there are no photos of the birds going into the chimney is that they don't show up very well on the camera unless you have some way to zoom in on them.
Not exactly in portland(actually 1 1/-2 hours away, but worth the trip) There are miles and miles of hiking trails, some of which even go behind waterfalls offering a refreshing mist to cool you off during those summer months. Now these waterfalls are not HUGE niagra waterfalls...they are smaller but beautiful and the hikes range in difficulty. Some are only a 1/4 mile off the road, while others are a miles away. If you are an avid hiker you will enjoy the Trail of 10 Falls, a days worth of hiking. Other things to do at the park...Playground, Swimming, Bike Trails, BBQ, Horseback Trails, camping, simple cabins available for overnight..plus lots lots more. A lot of people in Oregon have never even heard of Silver Falls, yet holidays...and summer weekends can be crowded. If you are visiting in late fall/winter/Spring...you need to call and find out if the park is open, and what trails are open...as the rain/mud makes some places dangerous.
If you have a little time and a rented car, take a drive on Interstate-84 about 30 miles east of the middle of Portland. It is probably one of the most visited attractions in Oregon, because of its location along the interstate.
Not only is it very scenic, but a good place for a hike. If you take the 1.2 mile to the top of the falls, there are more trails -- six miles to the top of Larch Mountain, where the falls originates (underground springs) and a six mile Wahkeena Loop trail as part of the Multnomah Falls National Scenic area. (Be careful when hiking, especially when its wet.) There are a number of other falls in the area.
There is an old 1925 lodge at the base of Multnomah Falls, and though there is no longer overnight lodging you can make reservations for dinner.
There’s also a snack bar, gift shop and information center staffed by the U.S. Forest Service and Friends of Multnomah Falls.
Multnomah Falls drops 620 feet from its origin on Larch Mt. and is said to be the 2nd highest year-round waterfall in the U.S.
Use freeway parking lot exit at Exit 35 on I-84 or use if traveling west take the signs for the Historic Columbia Highway (it parallels the freeway but is very scenic)
www.mulnomafallslodge.com (or just google)
Mt. Tabor park is a park at the top of an extinct volcano in SE Portland. (see website for more park info) and I was lucky enough to attend the Adult Soap Box Derby races there recently. There's a ton of fun activities like this in Portland and this one didn't disappoint! Check out the travelouge for more info.
Mt. Tabor park has a wonderful view of Mt. Hood, particularly during sunrise. Just keep following the road up to the summit around the east side of the hill. You can drive up there too: this is not one of the roads on the hill that is closed.
At 6 in the morning (about when this photo was taken) the park is normally quiet, and it is nice to also have the entire place almost to yourself. If you are someone that enjoys quiet contemplation, this is the time to do that in this park, as it gets busier later on.
The only catch is that you have to be patient enough to stop and take a look at the view. Unfortunately, few people are, and they miss one great unobstructed view of Mt. Hood from Portland.
Portland is known as the city of Roses, and while they prosper here, and the Nootka Rose is a native plant, most Roses are not native to the area.
On the other hand, rhododendrons do grow native in areas of the Pacific Northwest, and it should not be surprising that the city of Portland also has a Rhododendron Garden. The peak rhododendron blossom season is usually in mid-May, though some are early and some are late.
Here, like some of the native forests in the northwest, it is possible to see Rhododendrons that have grown as big as trees.
The Rhododendron Garden is located near Reed College, on SE 28th Ave, just north of Woodstock.
The gardens are a popular place for weddings, so on weekends be prepared for to encounter sections of the garden that are closed.
There are smooth gravel trails that lead through the facility, and there are several ponds and waterfalls. It is known as "Crystal Springs" because there are some natural springs that feed the ponds, though in recent years there have been considerable concerns with lawn chemicals from the surrounding residential areas winding up in the springs and causing water quality issues.
Upon entering the garden, you have a gradually sloping ramp down to a bridge that crosses a small ravine, and continues through a patch of rhododendron to another bridge over a larger pond. The other side of the bridge features an open area with restrooms and a small pavillion and open grass space where the weddings are usually performed. The open grass space is completely surrounded by a wide variety of rhododendron. Between the two bridges a branch trail leads to a small peninsula between the two ponds that is more of a rhododendron forest.
All of the rhododendron species are well labeled.
Many of the pathways are wheelchair accessible (the gravel is reasonably dense), but there are a number of them that are by nature not accessible (for example, there is a loop that is on stepping stones around a water fall). Even if you are unable to walk on some of the pathways, however, it is still possible to see all of the rhododendron from the accessible pathways.
The entrance fee is $3, but is not charged during certain days, or during the winter, or during certain hours of the day.
There is a rhododendron plant sale every year, generally on or around mother's day.
Some of the photos in my collection here are from November. Most of the rhododendron are not in bloom this time of year (sometimes, there are some odd exceptions that decide November is the idea time to blossom), but the garden is still fairly attractive with the leaves on various trees changing colors. So, while the garden is known for its rhododendron, there are many times of the year that it is very attractive.
Also, if you are a bird watcher, the fall and winter months may be a good time to check to see what birds have decided to winter in the ponds here, or stop here on their migration route. Wood ducks and hooded mergansers are usually found in small numbers here during the winter, as well as various others.
In 2010, the Rhododendron Society decided that they would start discouraging people from feeding the birds in the park. Feeding them encourages unnatural numbers of them to reside at the gardens, and sometimes the huge numbers of geese and ducks can be a bit overwhelming. The Canada Geese that settle here can be particularly annoying. Therefore, after a long tradition of families coming here to feed the ducks, the tradition has now come to an end.
How to Get Here:
From highway 99E (not 99W!!!) going south take the Bybee exit. Go east on Bybee and follow the curves of the main road until you get to a three-way stop. Turn left at this first stop sign. The Rhododendron Garden is on your left. From 99E going north, there is no exit at Bybee. Take the Tacoma Street exit, go west on Tacoma to Milwaukie Avenue, and turn right onto Bybee, and follow the above instructions.
Bus routes #10 and certain routings of the #19 are the closest bus routes. #19 is only about two blocks to the south, but you need to make sure it is one of the routings that stops at 28th and Woodstock - about half of them do not take this routing. Bus route #10 is at 28th and Steele, about 5 blocks north. However, it does not run on Saturdays and Sundays.
Photo 1 shows the large size of the rhododendron bushes here, though some are larger than others.
Photo 2 shows the typical reaction fo the ducks in the pond when people are seen: Quick! There must be food over there! Right? Unfortunately, today there isn't any, and if the garden has its way soon there will be no duck feeding here.
Photo 3 It's November of 2007, and here is a rhododendron that decided to bloom way out of season.
Photo 4 Fall colors show that the garden doesn't necessarily have to be seen in spring.
Photo 5 Mallard Ducks beg for food. In the background you can see one of the trail bridges over the water between the small peninsulas that make up the park.
See also my Rhododendron Garden Fall Colors in 2008 Travelogue for more.
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