We both love trains. I don't know of anyone with an ounce of their inner-child left who doesn’t. We had both shot a train gap in Whistler a few years back, but after missing the train by ten minutes, the shot seemed to have lost some magic. So, as we headed out from Oregon, the idea of seeing and shooting another train got us both excited.
However, the weather and train schedule had other plans. It snowed hard as we entered our small destination town, and continued to sputter snow for the next two days. Lucky for us, the train yard and steamers were open and running to the public. After paying $9 a person to get into the yard (hands-down the most well-spent money on the trip), we carefully walked across the yard into the engine house. We expected to be stopped at some point, but no one batted an eye...Trevor was climbing around on train cars, and Henry was befriending a shop kitty. The yardsmen and machine-shop workers were so friendly and inviting, and you could see their inner-child beaming through to share insight, knowledge, and just excitement.
When the steamers finally headed out of the yard on our last day, we both got antsy and excited. We didn’t know where the train was going, and it appeared that no one in the yard knew either. A group of out-of-towners came for a photoshoot with the train, and where they went was solely up to them in the moment. The tunnel we wanted to shoot was one direction, and once the train whistled three times to signal it was reversing the opposite direction as the tunnel, we knew we would have to wait another few more hours before it headed the direction we wanted.
We kicked stones and talked shit at each other for a few hours in an open field east of town as the train made passes by eager photo-takers, both anxious about getting the shot, and bloated from eating Filoberto’s Mexican food (smelly car). When the train returned to town for lunch, we knew it would depart the way we wanted in the afternoon. We started to set up.
We shuttled bikes, made observation runs up and down the road, and at about 2:30 pm, we heard the high-pitched whistle of the steamer chugging through the town towards the mountains. We bolted into the car, sped through town, and boogied into the hills. The new snow made things tricky to ride the rock above the tunnel, as doing a test ride down the slope would create an unrideable track for a second go. So while Trevor post-holed down off the road trying not to scorpion, Henry stumbled his ass up an icy rock face. An arm wave from Trevor signaled for the rider to drop, and in ten seconds, it was all over. The train kept chugging as we threw everything in the car, and we hightailed it to Phoenix. We both sighed with relief, as two days of anticipation and stress turned to fulfillment and excitement.
Photos by Trevor Lyden
Editorial by Henry Lanman