Tim Thompson still remembers the day he met “Steamer Scott,” founder of the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, who eventually welcomed him into the crew.
“I have loved trains my whole life,” Tim said. “The thing with steam trains is you can SEE how it works…you can see the wheels, you can see the rods turn the wheels, it’s a very live experience.”
Tim recalls a time when he was child living in Gresham. “We were sitting around at home and heard a horn we had never heard before. We got in the car and saw the train.”
From then on, family vacations were often spent going out of the way to see trains.
The fascination grew for Tim, and for the last 10 years, he has dedicated his time to learning every aspect of the organization and earned himself the title of Operation Supervisor with the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.
“Every day I learn something new, that’s why I do what I do,” Tim said.
And he says the immense work that it takes to get the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad running could not be done without the help of many volunteers.
“It’s nice to have dedicated volunteers have a project…that’s what’s necessary to not just having trains, but to keep them maintained so they can run. It’s not just looking at a train and saying, ‘Oh that’s cool.’ It’s another thing to have it run. You see adults become like kids when they see that.”
Through the years Tim has meet many people from around the world who come to Garibaldi to have that exact experience.
“It’s not just rail fans. I see a lot of families,” said Tim. “I see parents who want to share this experience with their kids. I see grandparents who want to share this experience with their grandkids…It’s one of the only steam train rides that you go along a bay or Ocean.
“Cruising along [Highway] 101 in your car, you might see a seal or an eagle for a second. Whereas the train, you can get a chance to see and smell the scenery.”
So, if you haven’t had the experience yet, Tim encourages you to come feel the steam and smell the smoke for yourself.