Entering the Nehalem River Canyon. Columbia River Belt Line Railway #7, "Skookum" hauls a string of empty log bunks back up into the Nehalem River Canyon en route to a logging operation up near Salmonberry, where she'll fetch another load of fresh timber, destined for the saw mills in Garibaldi, Oregon.
The second trip to see "Skookum" turned out to be the charm for me. After going coast to coast last fall for Pete Lerro's 3-day extravaganza, only to find that Skookum was still having some technical issues, I signed up for the first of two additional photo trips being offered by Trains Magazine in March of 2019. While Skookum was still having some issues on this trip, she basically made the call both days, and the weather was pretty darn good for Oregon in March. As you might imagine, a 1909-vintage, compound Mallet articulated locomotive is a bit of a complex beast, so it is not surprising that the process of restoring her from a pile of parts has been an adventure for the team at the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. This locomotive features two complete engines. The rear set of cylinders and drivers are the "high pressure engine", where the steam goes directly from the boiler's steam dome. After being exhausted from the rear cylinders, the steam is then channeled to the forward set of cylinders or "low pressure engine", where it is re-used and finally exhausted up the stack. The boiler essentially rests on the rear engine and pivots over the top of the front engine when the locomotive goes around curves. If you think about it, this engine is really a 2-8-2, with a set of joints in the middle, to enable it to negotiate track with tight curves. As big as she looks, Skookum is really just a 70-ton engine, with about 25,000 lbs of tractive effort. After seeing the challenges that the OCSR folks faced getting this engine operational, I don't envy the UP Steam Team for the gargantuan task ahead of them. They are restoring the 4-8-8-4 Big Boy which is Skookum on steroids. They are also converting a coal burner to oil firing. They are scheduled to be running in early May of 2019, just 2 months after this Skookum image was made and the finishing touches are just being put on that engine. It should be quite a show if they can pull it off.