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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hall of Cluelessness

We see that now they're building a train museum down by where the worthless east side streetcar will meet up with the insane Mystery Train to Milwaukie. A golden spike, as it were. It will be a great place for future generations to go and wonder, "What were they thinking with all those stupid trains?" With any luck there'll be a life-size puppet of Earl the Pearl, replete with strings. The kids can pull them, just like the construction contractors and developer types did.

Comments (16)

What a perfect chaotic storm of stupidity, dishonesty, greed, fanaticism and wholesale unethical dysfunction.

Resulting in enormous waste of public resources pushed by an agenda that is being advanced at any and all costs.

These people are oblivious to all of our economic strongholds being undermined like never before and that tomorrow is going to be nothing like yesterday.

The complete absence of caution, restraint and urgency makes these people as diabolical as any in our history.

And yet they have crowds cheering them.

These three steam engines are a huge part of our national history. Even though the City of Portland "owns" them, they have provided nothing in financial support. All operations and maintenance are funded by donations and volunteer labor. The City is so "un-committed" to them, they "loaned" a million dollars to the museum construction. These are amazing and awesome machines that have been hidden away for far too long. My compliments to the ORHF for thier diligence in finaly making this museum a reality.

I don't have any real opinion on the trains or the 'museum', but did I miss the commmentary on the selection of the new Director of Portland Parks & Recreation?

We covered it here.

What Tom said. Many thanks to the volunteers who maintained these beautiful engines all these years and brought them out from time to time for the rest of us. I'm not much of a railfan but even I have traveled and paid money to see and ride behind engines like these, both in Portland and in other places (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, France). Having them by OMSI will be great for tourists and families.

Having them sit in storage somewhere instead of a museum would be like not having paths and a gift shop at Multnomah Falls.

If you have never seen and heard them out on the line, go to Oaks Bottom this winter when they're running the Christmas train. They are wonderful.

That's all well and good Julie, but children are hungry, the schools are in desperate need of repairs and maintenance, the streets and roads are full of pot holes, the bridges are falling apart, all the pension funds are in serious debt, and on and on and on.
The "loan" should have been for the above items, or better yet sell the damn engines, so lovingly cared for, to some train museum for real money and use the funds for things the city really needs!
We need a train museum like a fish needs a bicycle!

Seems like a good idea....

We built all the trains, and
Put 'em in a train museum
Now you gotta pay
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know where your bucks have all gone

They built light rail
And put up a parking lot.

Julie: There is a train museaum in nearby Sacramento where these engines could be properly displayed and maintained. Of course, they could have been donated to that museum for NO REAL COST TO THE PUBLIC.
Instead, the taxpayers will be burdened with yet another "loan" of public monies to a volunteer group that I can almost guarantee you will NEVER pay back more than a fraction of the original amount.
This is just one more example of the City of Portland getting involved in things it has no business or charter for doing. It's nothing more than THEFT of PUBLIC FUNDS from current needs..

A lot of vitriol here about something that actually has cultural value and is an important part of local heritage

I would suggest you all sign up for a ride on 4449 next summer

This museum was required because the railroad has been donating space for these locomotives for decades, and now wants its building back. They've got to go somewhere and,no, not to California.

I have no problem with a private nonprofit group buying a building and displaying old trains. I do have a problem with the city spending money on it. But the main objection expressed by this post, if you would only read it, consists of the utterly stupid new rail projects that are being built nearby.

Jack, I have no problem with you bashing light rail and streetcar, but you lumped them in with the rail museum. This museum is for REAL TRAINS, trains that were a significant contributor to the industrial revolution and the development of the West. Shame on you for making this comparison/connection. They are in no way related.

I get that the main point was that the Milwaukie light rail line and streetcars suck, but presumably the railroad museum was what you were calling the "Hall of Cluelessness".

I agree with the comments regarding the heritage these trains represent; However, what business does any government that pays out 26% ot it's property tax revenue on debt service have loaning money to anyone or anything?

Portland: Athens on the Willamette.

"Mostly False": Mayor Sam Adams, city say streetcar attracted $4 billion in private investment

Notable excerpts:

We asked the mayor’s office and Portland Streetcar Inc., the nonprofit that operates the system for the city, for figures to back up the $4 billion assertion. In return, we received an April 2008 document that lists $3.5 billion of development within three blocks of the streetcar. It’s a widely disseminated figure used to pitch streetcars in Oakland and in Tucson.


To be absolutely clear, there have been hundreds of millions of private dollars invested along the line, resulting in more retail space and housing. We can’t say definitively how much of that development is there because of the streetcar. But we can knock off at least $800 million from the estimated $4.2 billion in private investment -- and that doesn’t even include projects that may be near the streetcar even if the streetcar isn’t the reason why the development is there.

We presented our findings to Amy Ruiz, a spokeswoman for the mayor. She said in an email that he should have referred to "$4 billion in public and private investment, or simply in investment," and that the online posts have been corrected.

Adams spoke of thousands of "jobs created by that $4 billion in private investment" along the current line. There may have been that much money total -- although it’s still not clear how much is directly attributable to the streetcar -- but it wasn’t all private. We rate the statement Mostly False: It contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

Makes me ill to think that Earl the Pearl and other politicians turn out to be first to shovel dirt at the construction site of ORHFs new museum. If anyone should be so honored, it should be Doyle McCormack and all the volunteers over the years who restored, maintained, and run these magnificent mechanical beasts. Without them, the city would own 3 piles of rust.

Where were all these "dignitaries" when there was real work to be done? How much time or money have each given (outside their regular jobs) to ORHF? The rats come out of the sewer whenever there is a photo-op, and if a train is involved, all the better. Not sure if the COP organized the event or if ORHF did, but it is ORHFs best interests to have the good will of the public entities.

In this public-private partnership, the city has contributed little to nothing. The engines were doomed and only familiar relics, forgotten and uncared for until dedicated volunteers reclaimed them. Hooray for ORHF! Ride the Holiday Express- it's their big fund raiser for the year - put on by volunteers.

To Dave A.'s comment about the train museum in Sacramento:

Did you know that the California State Railroad Museum is owned and operated by California State Parks?


The State of California owns another railroad-themed state park, "Railtown 1897" which was slated for closure due to budget cuts.

In railfan circles, many folks dislike the CSRM because it simply lacks the ability to maintain much of its equipment. While it has a beautiful museum and what's inside the museum looks great (cosmetically), the CSRM owns and maintains a large amount of equipment that is kept in storage a half mile away in an old Southern Pacific shop building that has a badly leaking roof, and many of the items within it have deteroriated. Some items have been given to other museums (effectively taking them out of public ownership) and some of those "non-profit organizations" have not allowed public access to the items either.

That has been one of my criticisms of the local groups - they have had opportunities to put these locomotives on public display and haven't done as good of a job. However they are finally getting this museum built and with virtually no government support - they're getting a LOAN. Unlike the dozens of grants given to pet projects. Did Homer Williams get a "loan" on the Streetcar for his developments? No - the city gave it to him.

This facility will also be much smaller that the CSRM - it will be a home for three steam locomotives - and a few support cars - that's it. This won't be a comprehensive museum of railroading (in fact, the famed 4449 locomotive only operated in Oregon as a freight locomotive near the end of its career. As a "Daylight" locomotive it was assigned to the Coast and Valley Daylights in California; the Shasta Daylight from Oakland to Portland was always a diesel train - so historically, the 4449 probably would be better off in Sacramento, but the SP donated it to the City of Portland. The SP&S 700 and OR&N 197 both have historic ties to Portland.)

I don't see this as a negative but I'm also a little biased because I love these locomotives. It'll be nice to be able to see them and take my son to see them. The City "owns" them...but could care less for them. Financially - the city spent more money to buy ONE streetcar than it loaned to build this museum. That's right - more money went to Oregon Iron Works to build ONE streetcar.

As for the location...the location was determined long before TriMet/Metro/CoP put a Streetcar and light rail bridge here. It is at the junction of the Union Pacific's mainline and the Oregon Pacific Railroad (which hosts the Christmastime Holiday Express trains) and allows easy access to Union Station. Union Station is not available as a train museum (no room, nearby land being or has been redeveloped). Union Pacific wants all of Brooklyn Yard. Since the City owns the locomotives (and so far shows it wants to remain the "owner") the museum must be within Portland city limits, so a museum in Milwaukie, Oregon City, Canby, Salem, Eugene, etc. is off the table. You just can't move these locomotives to the Zoo (rather, it'd be a huge waste of money in doing so, and they'd be stuffed and mounted, never to be operated again.)

One last comment: The city is loaning $1,000,000....how many millions and millions were spent by private donors? I know I dished out close to $400 for my son and I to ride behind the 4449 this past July on a trip to Wishram. Over 200 other individuals on my train - plus the train the day before - did the same.

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