Historic Hood River
Working on the Railroad
I’ve been holding out on you. Several months ago our friends at WAAAM found a small handmade album of faded images meticulously annotated in very faded pencil. Thank goodness they realized what a treasure it was and sent it our way. I’ve worked with our friends at WAAAM, our railroad enthusiast friends across the state, as well as my friends Google and Photoshop to get this ready to share with you. You’re in for a real treat. Here’s what we’ve been able to figure out:
Between 1900 and 1902 a young man named Earl Conser was a member of an engineering crew working on the realignment of the railroad between Hood River and Rowena. The original rail laid in the 1880s had too many bends and curves, all of which could be corrected with some more tunnels, extensive fill and blasting. This was probably a pretty appealing job for a twenty year old from Portland.
Earl Conser probably took most of the photos in the album himself, though there are a few Benjamin Gifford images mixed in. I’ll eventually share over 30 images from this wonderful album with you, but we’ll start with just a week of posts so I don’t wear you out.
There are so many things I love about this image, but I think I’ll let you appreciate it yourselves. It was taken just east of Hood River, showing a newly completed tunnel on the OR&N Company track.
I hope you enjoy our visit with Mr. Conser and friends at the rail camps and construction sites between Hood River and Mosier. From everything I’ve learned about Mr. Conser I think he would be thrilled to know his album was being shared widely 115 tears after he prepared it.
[Ed. note: Adding a little more information about this image]
The caption from the album says: “East end of tunnel No. 2 showing old ? and handcar of Engineers Corps/ B? Campbell E? H?, Stanley Starr/J. W. Macrum C. N. Jaquette”
Tunnel 2 is east of Mosier, just west of Memaloose Island. The railroad now uses a deep cut through the basalt south of this tunnel (behind these men) instead of the old tunnel in this picture. You can explore the old alignment in Google Earth. It’s easiest to approach from the west side. Search for the big rail cut, then look for the old alignment on the north side of the cut.
This is the same tunnel we saw in this Benjamin Gifford image.