USA 2010 – Part 1 : San Francisco – Columbia River Gorge

In September 2010, I made a roadtrip through some states in the USA. The main reason was to shoot some freight trains, but the incredible landscape and the food were a nice add-on! We started our trip in San Francisco, three weeks later we would arrive their again after a visit to Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

Part 1: San Francisco – Columbia River Gorge

We spent the first night in a hotel on Geary Street, but we started early on Sunday September 14, still a result of our jetlag which we saw as a benefit. It was about 6am when we started our day in the ‘Olympic Cafe’ with a real San Francisco breakfast. You gotta love those calories!

We wanted to start our phototour along the San Pablo bay, quite a wellknown spot. However, the weather was cloudy, and with a long ride ahead of us, we didn’t waste too much time there. Without a good shot we continued our way towards the North via highway 5. During the drive we saw some activity on a branchline, operated by Californian Northern Railroad. A good reason to leave the highway and follow the train to get the first railroad activity of our vacation. We said goodbye to the line at Delevan, where an old (spare) engine was put, waiting for better times.


After the Californian Northern we continued our drive towards the Oregon border. We spent the night at theĀ  Dunsmuir Lodge, just before Mt Shasta. There is a Union Pacific line in the backyard, but not too much activity noticed. It became once clear on the day after, we spotted one Z-train from our car, but once approaching the state border with Oregon, we saw that the railway line was closed for maintenance. No new train shots for the last miles on Californian ground then…


Would Oregon offer us more? Well, no…The landscape was incredible, a lot of water around Klamath Falls, but with the railway line closed we weren’t very happy to wait in the heat. So we decided to continue towards the The Dalles.

It was almost midnight when we arrived in The Dalles, luckily found a free motel room at ‘Oregon Motor’. We were looking forward to the next day to explore the BNSF Fallbridge subdivision. It was not a lot after 6 am when we crossed the Columbia River, the weather wasn’t too good to start, but we also had to wait quite a long time before the first freight passed the lens. But it has to be said, the possibilities are endless, certainly well worth visiting.


After day 1 we decided to stay one more day, hoping for better weather. We slept at ‘Oregon Motor’ again, meantime crossing our fingers for a little bit more sunshine.

Day 5 didn’t start too good either. We saw again some maintenance vehicles on the Union Pacific Portland Subdivision. We wrongly assumed that there wouldn’t be too much activity either. Then we went back to the Washington side, where we were able to photograph some freights. We didn’t wait too long however, we continued to Kennewick where we witnessed some shunting at Finley.


We drove untill Connell, WA where we spent the night in a motel. The next day we planned to go Providence Hill, on the BNSF lakeside subdivision. Stay tuned for part 2!

  • Johan

    Very nice pictures!