Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Portland and the National Train Day - June 2013

Trains?  What the heck does that have to do with wilderness?!?!

Before this modern world unfolded, and our world population exceeds the imagination,
railroads were the lifeblood that kept our nation together and running.
In our region of Oregon, Portland has always been the primary economic driver.  Raw materials come in, manufactured goods and timber products go out.

Goods, men, and materials needed to keep a 1920s minded National Forest running came from Portland.  It was more than a supply hub - the impact of this great hub of commerce still leaves an indelible impact on the region.    Of course, the city of Portland and the world itself has changed a great deal in a century.  

"The more things change, the more they stay the same", says that tired old quote.  Well, let's see if that's true.

On a suddenly hot and sunny June Saturday, Erin, Eva and I decided to bicycle down to Portland Union Station.  I was curious to see if any of the old ghosts still plied these recent streets.

Perhaps there is still something of an earlier era in this modern remake of an American city.

the venerable Broadway Bridge, a survivor in its own right
 Constructed in 1913, it still links East and West Portland without complaint
Could this be 1920?  Almost, if you squint.

Pausing to admire the skunky Superfund Willamette River

Portland Union Station, little changed since its construction in 1896

Boarding the Vista-Dome North Coast Limited?  No, not any more.
 Those days are over.

In this earlier era, Union Station was truly the center of Portland.  Most commerce and the movement of people occurred here, intensified by great wars, and later drained of most of its vitality by modern conveyances.  But it is still a vital place, with all these combined energies absorbed into the walls.  Amtrak still stops at Union Station, but the fleets of streamliners and caustic-belching steam locomotives are no more.

Portland Chinatown lies at the edge of the rails, a dim memory of what it once was

What do you think?  Is it possible to chase ghosts?

one tuckered kid

It is hard to tell for sure what is really left of the past.  It is still "back there", in spite of these fossils of that other place.  Without paint, hard work, and the will to preserve, most of our tangible artifacts fall to dust in a very short while.
For the past 10,000 years humans have lived here, leaving little trace of their existence.
What can we say about our modern society?  What will the future say?

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