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Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad rescues steam locomotive

The Garibaldi Lions donate locomotive to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Pictured during the ceremonial hand-off are: (left to right) Port Manager Mike Swindon, Lions Club treasurer, Kelly Barnett, OCSR President Rich Gitschlag, Garibaldi Mayor and Lions Club member Judy Riggs, Lions Club President Patty Moore, Port President Val Folkema, Lions Club Member Pat Patterson, OCSR Operations Supervisor Tim Thompson, OCSR Chief Mechanical Officer and Founder Scott Wickert and OCSR Board member Pam Daniels.

A cry for help to rescue a deteriorating steam locomotive and trainset owned by a local Lions Club, and on property of a small coastal town’s port authority, was answered this week by the fast action of the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (“OCSR”).  A crisis that would have likely seen a locomotive and trainset sold off or even scrapped, was averted.  Now, that locomotive and trainset are destined for preservation and eventual restoration to operation.

In 1963, when the logging outfit of Rayonier, Inc., in Hoquiam, Washington, converted their railroad to diesel power, they retired a majority of their steam locomotives.  Among those locomotives was a 90-ton Baldwin 2-8-2 #90 that had originally been built for Rayonier predecessor, Polson Logging Company.  Locomotive #90 was offered for sale at the scrap value of $1,250 by Rayonier.  In 1963, the Lions Club of Garibaldi, Oregon, purchased the locomotive and obtained a donation of shipping of the engine down to the small coastal community for display along with an old wooden coach and caboose in the town park in the center of the small fishing village of Garibaldi, Oregon, where it has sat as a well-known community landmark ever since.  Locomotive #90 and her trainset have sat in that same location, suffering the ravages of the winter storms and the general march of time.

In the Spring of 2016, the OCSR was able to pull the #90 out just enough to rebuild the tracks and ballast under the train set, and shift it a few feet toward the adjacent park to gain clearance for building an anticipated train station building on the site.

The salt air and wet, coastal winters have been hard on #90 and the trainset over the years since then.  Its continued deteriorating condition became a concern for the Port of Garibaldi, who owns the land under the trainset.  The Port issued instructions in 2018 to the Lions Club that they needed to either repair and stabilize the locomotive to make it safe or it would have to be removed entirely from the Port’s property.  They gave the Lions Club a deadline that was set to expire yesterday, May 8, 2019.

Locomotive #90 and her trainset sit on display only 100 feet away from the engine house and facilities of OCSR, who has operated steam tourist excursions on the Oregon Coast since 2002.  When an ad appeared in the local newspaper last week by the Lions Club seeking bids for anyone to buy #90 and the trainset because of its eminent eviction, that ad was seen by OCSR.  The OCSR recognized the importance of this locomotive to the community, as well as knowing that the vast majority of its customers weren’t aware of the differing ownership interests of the three groups, and simply assumed that the OCSR was the owner/operator of the #90 train set.

OCSR immediately called a meeting of their board of directors to discuss the crisis that their neighbors were facing.  While at present, OCSR has no budget amount available for #90 and its trainset, they realized that they were the only viable hope to save #90 from removal from the town or even the scrapping of it.  As a result of the fast action of OCSR and meetings that were quickly held between OCSR, the Lions Club, and the Port of Garibaldi, those three parties came together with a new plan to save locomotive #90.

After the Lions Club board meeting on May 7, 2019, and then the Port of Garibaldi’s board meeting on May 8, 2019, an agreement was signed immediately transferring ownership of #90 and its trainset to OCSR for rehabilitation and, ultimately, restoration back to service.  OCSR was granted a year to raise funds to perform an initial cosmetic restoration of the locomotive and to erect a better protective fence for the locomotive.  Part of OCSR’s commitment goes beyond simply rehabilitation of the engine and trainset for display. OCSR plans to place #90 in rotation as the next steam locomotive to be restored back to full operation on the Oregon Coast.

This is a wonderful example of a local Lions Club, a town’s port authority, and an operating steam tourist railroad working together for a common good.  As a result of this cooperative effort, someday #90 will be back under steam for the enjoyment of the residents of Garibaldi and the many tourists that visit the Oregon Coast each year.

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