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Vintage trolley almost ready to roll in Lake Oswego

by: VERN UYETAKE - Gage Geist, of Milwaukie, on the right, and Itamar Reuven, who lives in California but used to live in Lake Oswego, stand in a vintage trolley that arrived in Lake Oswego on Tuesday. The two 18-year-olds are among about 20 volunteers who help operate the Willamette Shore Trolley.Several years after the old Willamette Shore Line trolley sputtered to its final stop, a new car is nearly ready to roll down the line between Lake Oswego and Portland.

The vintage trolley, a replica of the Council Crest streetcars that ran in Portland a century ago, arrived Tuesday in Lake Oswego.

by: VERN UYETAKE - The newly leased trolley car, a replica of Portland's Council Crest cars from a century ago, seats 40 people in wicker seats with walkover-style backrests.Two replica cars are coming to Lake Oswego on a free lease, through 2018, from Vintage Trolley Inc. in Portland, although only one has arrived so far. They’re among four historical reproductions built in Iowa in the late 1980s. TriMet owns the other two, which still run on Portland’s MAX tracks a handful of days throughout the year.

It’s unclear exactly when Willamette Shore service will return, but Rod Cox, the trolley’s general manager, said he hopes it will come online in early summer. The schedule and fare also remain undecided at this point.

For now, workers will be testing whether the new car will work with their existing power source — there’s no overhead electrical line for the trolley to tap for power, and so instead it is tethered to a generator — and training volunteer motormen to run it.

Members of the nonprofit Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society operate the trolley, which runs on a line overseen by a government consortium including the cities of Lake Oswego and Portland, Metro, Clackamas County, TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation. The consortium bought the Willamette Shore Line right of way in the 1980s in hopes of preserving the historical rail line for a future mass-transit route, and its members pay dues to cover the cost of maintenance and operations.

The trolley typically travels about six miles through wooded and parklike settings along the Willamette River, over trestles, through a tunnel and past stately mansions before arriving in Portland.

“My passengers tell me this is the most scenic rail line in the Pacific Northwest,” Cox said.

Local trolley service has been on hiatus since the line’s antique trolley car broke down a few years ago. It has been a bumpy ride trying to restore service since then.

When the line eventually reopens, the trolley won’t be able to run along the full route because of construction happening at the Sellwood Bridge. Instead, it will go just under two miles, to the Riverwood crossing in the Dunthorpe area, before heading back to the depot just off Foothills Road and State Street, or Highway 43, in Lake Oswego.

In addition to the Sellwood Bridge project, trolley supporters are awaiting the completion of construction work, expected to wrap up by June, on the Elk Rock Tunnel, just north of Lake Oswego.

“We’re looking forward to having the trolley back up and running,” said Brant Williams, director of the city’s economic and capital development department. “The more historic vintage trolleys running on the line should be a nice amenity and hopefully an attraction.”

Dave Rowe has been working on the vintage trolleys since they arrived in Portland in the early 1990s. On Tuesday, looking over Lake Oswego’s new addition, he noted that the car is made of solid oak and filled with handcrafted details.

“It’s built like a yacht,” Rowe said.

The replica streetcars have red and cream exteriors with wood concealing their steel frames. Inside, each features plenty of carved oak, brass rails and leather hand grips. The wicker seats have “walkover,” or reversible, backrests, and there’s an optional dry bar that can be installed for special events. The trolley can be chartered for school tours, corporate meetings or special occasions such as weddings. It typically seats up to 40 people.

It was loaded onto a trailer for the trip from Portland to Lake Oswego on Tuesday. At 15 feet tall, it required two pilot trucks and stopped traffic at points along Highway 43, as workers had to maneuver into oncoming traffic to avoid damaging roadside trees.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Hal Rosene, superintendent of operations, and Dave Rowe, better known to some as 'Trolley Dave,' stand in the newest Willamette Shore Trolley car, which could be running between Lake Oswego and Portland as soon as June.Two of the trolley’s younger operators were on hand this week to welcome the new car to town.

Milwaukie resident Gage Geist, 18, and former Lake Oswego resident Itamar Reuven, also 18, who now lives in Cupertino, Calif., have been volunteering to help operate Willamette Shore Trolley cars for years.

“I like the complexity of it,” said Geist, who began training as an apprentice to Cox when he was 9 years old. He said working on streetcars requires “knowing the mechanics of how things work,” along with teamwork, as two-person crews operate the trolley.

“I always thought it was fun,” Reuven added. “When I went to Waluga (junior high school) there wasn’t anything to do on the weekends, so I came here one day.”

He said apprenticeship has provided an opportunity to practice customer service, discipline and multitasking, skills that could be useful in the career of which he dreams. Both Geist and Reuven hope to pilot airplanes one day.

“You have to have a passion for it, for sure,” Geist said.by: VERN UYETAKE - Rod Cox, the Willamette Shore Trolley's general manager, stands next to the line's new trolley car by the old railroad depot at 311 N. State St. in Lake Oswego. He hopes to have the line back up and running this summer.



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Humidity: 90%

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  • 23 Oct 2014

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  • 24 Oct 2014

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