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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 24, 2012 10:08 AM. The previous post in this blog was For that plumber on your gift list. The next post in this blog is They'll soldier on without us. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Are they shutting down the zoo train?

A reader writes:

My rabbit ears picked up some interesting cocktail party gossip. The zoo train is about to be eliminated, because it disturbs the elephants.

Now, there's a rumor to start your holiday season with. If it's true, this year could be the last chance to ride the thing.

Comments (12)

If we build larger natural spaces for all of the animals, Metro can get a wilderness designation and curtail visitation by the pesky humans.

The current plan to reconfigure the zoo calls for removing the part of the track that makes the scenic loop around the zoo, leaving in place the track to and from Washington Park.

I wonder what the ridership of this rail line is, particularly compared to say the east-side streetcar or WES? The route seems about as useful to the general population. Of course, the real problem here is the failure to get the elephants into a condo bunker on the line.

According to my understanding, Isaac is correct. The zoo is sacrificing a portion of their cash cow animal - the inside the zoo loop of track for the zoo train - to provide more room for other animals, specifically the elephants. Although there will be a road/walking path around the elephant pen, the Portland Fire Bureau would not allow the zoo train tracks to share space with the road. The track to Washington Park will remain, however the train won’t stop at the Washington Park Station for boarding. The snobby residents around Washington Park keep bitching about people parking in their neighborhood and then taking the train to the zoo. That is also why emperor Sammyboy wants to dictate putting parking meters in Washington Park. Item 1353 Titled: Authorize 2012 Washington Park Transportation and Parking Management Agreement at Washington Park (Second Reading Agenda 1304) is on Wednesday’s City Council agenda. I am not sure what it exactly what it entails. Although I am against parking permit districts in general because drivers already pay for the streets they utilize; in this case I say let those well-to-do better than thou people pay to park in front of their own houses. Parking in the park like the park it self needs to remain free to all Portland taxpayers and visitors.

Any excuse to get a few more dollars out of you. The Sam Rands have really set this town on a bad course. Don't expect Novick and Hales to be any different.

If I want to go see the zoo I just drive through downtown Portland....

The train *will* stop at Washington Park, just like always. Due to construction, the zoo train will be off line until about July. They are also trying to rebuild an old trestle in the park to give the zoo a small zoo loop for Zoo Lights, but not sure when it will be done.

The gossip the train will disappear is completely false.

Sounds as though the train part of "zoo lights," as we have come to know it, will soon be over, however. And so as usual, the rumor has at least a kernel of truth to it.

As said - no, the zoo train is not going away.

Yes, the elephants are a part of the reason why, but NOT because the trains bother the elephants (let's face it, the trains and elephants have been together for 50 years!) Part of the voter-approved zoo levy was to build a larger elephant exhibit, and the elephant exhibit will be expanded to take over the current elk meadow. The train runs inbetween the current elk meadow and elephant exhibit and so the "Zoo Loop" portion of the line will have to be removed to accomodate the expansion of the elephant exhibit.

There is an old trestle just outside the zoo fence that used to make up a loop. The trestle has not been used in many decades and in fact is partially collapsed. This trestle will be rebuilt (or a loop built in the approximate location) to provide for a smaller "Zoo Loop" for Zoo Lights.

The mainline to Washington Park will not be changed.

However, I like Alex's comment the best - probably more people ride the WP&Z than WES on any given day...plus the WP&Z probably makes money; rather than costing taxpayers $17 each time someone steps aboard.

I don't mind the train going away. Even with a zoo membership, the train was still expensive to ride. My family costs about $20 for a single ride! No thanks.

An old story about that loop just outside the zoo fence: In June or July 1961 my mother was riding the train. She was 8 and a half or 9 months pregnant (with me). The train broke down on that loop and they had to walk the passengers off. Now just imagine my mother, great with child, edging along with her back to the train, belly sticking out over the deep cut in the hillside, carefully crabwalking and hoping her foot came down on the railroad ties and not in between them.

Good to hear that the Washington Park main line will remain. One of my prized memories is taking my son on his first zoo trip on that train. For a young child (and their parents) it can be kind of a magical thing to arrive at the zoo via a train through the forest. I am glad other families will get to experience that in the future if they are so inclined.


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