Ospreys, Eagles and Amtrak
A bit belatedly back to the blog after exertions over the summer but I thought a few photos from my trip stateside might be worthwhile. The main railway angle of the holiday was a journey on the Amtrak’s Cascades, starting at Seattle – which is a bit grander than my usual commute!
The Cascades service runs from Portland, through Seattle and concludes its journey in Vancouver. Another grand station reflecting its importance as the terminal of a continental trunk route.
The route hugs Puget Sound and the Pacific coast for the entirity of the journey, for the greater part actually forming the sea wall.
So not unsurprisingly, the views really are fabulous (so if you do it, make sure you are sat on the seaward side!).
The route crosses a number of creeks and rivers, often on timber trestle bridges; where the train typically going at dead slow. This is helpful as for an added treat, thrown in for free – thank you Amtrak, was a bird-spotting trip. Calmly sitting on a post as the train rattled past was an Osprey. Apparently this particular bird is a bit of a mascot for the line and seems to have become used to the rumble of a few tens of thousands of tons of machinary as itis regularly on view.
It is possible to see Ospreys in the UK, but you need to be either pretty lucky, persistant or go to one of the recognised locations such as Loch Garten. But you can’t get to see bald headed eagles which was the next voyeur of the train going past that we got to see!
So all in all, this is a fabulous trip to do and it is fair to say both Seattle and Vancouver are great places to visit – both with a strong railway history! If you are also able to make it further south, down to Sacramento, then the Californian State Railroad Museum is also worth a visit. Sacramento was the birthplace of the Central Pacific, one of the partners in the first trans-continental railroad and therefore it feels it has something to say about the topic! It is also close (in American terms) to the site of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad which held onto its very aged stock for a startlingly long time, meaning that a significant proportion has survived – some of which is in the museum. If you think this feels just like those western movies that you watched as a child, you would be right. The Virginia and Truckee’s stock was used extensively by the movie industry and it is very likely you have seen this very loco!
In addition to these early locos are a selection of F Units that I do rather like and a giant Southern Pacific Cab Forward. These were built with the cab at the front to stop the staff suffocating from the exhaust smoke as it climbs up through the rockies which has numerous tunnels. They are rather odd to behold though!
All things Amercian are really big, something quite alien and thrilling to a Brit! Imagine that blasting up Shap or Drumochter…………………