Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow in the Valley

Amtrak Cascades train no. 500 running along the Willamette River in Oregon City.

(Written on March 23.) I had planned to sleep late after a long night of photographing the Blue Heron mill and the OC Switcher, but when Maureen woke up at 6:30, looked outside and saw an inch of fresh snow, I was up quickly. Snow is rare in the lower elevations of Willamette Valley, and snow photos in general have eluded me in the northwest (ask me sometime about my many failed attempts to photograph railroads in fresh snow in the Cascade Mountains). Amtrak no. 500 was the only train in the vicinity, and so we walked down to this overlook by the river (Maureen's work was canceled for the day, as Marylhurst University closed due to the weather.) Behind me, route 99E was serenely quiet in what was a heavily subdued morning commute. Within two hours, the snow had turned to rain and nearly every trace was gone, although freezing rain mixed with flurries returned in the afternoon.

On a side note, the OC Switcher had visited the mill in the previous night, pulling all the way in and even coupling onto the last car remaining on the property. For some unknown reason, they then uncoupled from that car, leaving it in the mill and returning light engine to Clackamas. On this night, they did not even venture to Oregon City, setting the stage for the last switch in the mill on Friday night, which was documented by no less than six photographers.

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