Eric and Pat’s 2000 Trip to Portland

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In a comment made to Michigan Mom’s recent trip report, we mentioned in passing that we’d once traveled to Portland, Oregon, a city that we’d never been to before, in October-November 2000. This was before we knew enough to write up trip reports detailing all that we had seen and done. Not having thought about that trip for many years, we decided to jot down some of our remembrances of it for our files. Since some of you might also find these remembrances of interest, we’ve posted them here as a short trip report.

That trip to Portland was actually made for business purposes: the Oregon Symphony Orchestra was going to accompany the 1925 silent film “The Lost World” during a special Halloween Eve performance that would take place in the old Paramount Portland Theater in downtown Portland. Since I’d prepared the special music score that was to be performed, I had to attend the rehearsals in order to confer with the conductor regarding any fixes or changes that needed to be made to the music.

Having to go to Portland provided us with the perfect excuse to book round trip bedroom accommodations on the Coast Starlight. (I don’t recall how far in advance we made the reservations, but it couldn’t have been more than a month or two before we were to travel.)

We left home at oh-dark-thirty on Sunday, October 29th. We parked our car at the North Island Naval Air Station where I worked as a civilian for the Navy and caught a cab to the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego where we caught the Pacific Surfliner to LA. (We would have had had to been on the first northbound PSL of the day in order to arrive in LA in enough time before the departure of the Coast Starlight.)

We reached LA without incident and enjoyed the ambience of Los Angeles Union Station’s main waiting room until it was time for the Coast Starlight to board. (Back then, we were unaware that the station had its own Metropolitan Lounge for sleeping car passengers.)

This was actually the second time that we’d made an overnight trip on the Coast Starlight. The first time had been in 1997 when we rode it to Seattle. (As part of my “day job” for the Navy, I had had to visit a Naval facility on Whidbey Island as part of an inspection team. Rather than flying up with the rest of the team, I took the train so that Pat could come along with me. We made the return trip to San Diego via commercial air.)

One of the highlights of our first day on the Coast Starlight was going by Drawbridge, an odd assortment of long abandoned, weather beaten shacks located on the San Francisco Bay mudflats right next to the tracks. This was once a thriving community of railroad workers, bootleggers, and duck hunters. It is now protected by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as the only “certified” ghost town in the Bay Area.

The highlight of our second day onboard the Coast Starlight was the passage between Klamath Falls and Eugene and the 75-mile descent through the Cascade Range.

Arriving in Portland, we caught a cab to the Heathman Hotel, where the Oregon Symphony had graciously provided accommodations for us. The Heathman had a doorman out front wearing a great coat and white gloves just like you see doormen wearing in old movies. When we checked in, a member of the hotel staff mistook me for Harrison Ford, to whom I bear a passing resemblance.

The next day, October 31st, the day of the performance, we had some free time in the morning, and we walked around downtown Portland, visiting some of the stores. (It seemed like every block had its own Starbucks Coffee Shop.) We ate lunch at a large Todai buffet-style Japanese restaurant.

While I was attending the afternoon rehearsal, Pat went shopping at an upscale department store located close to our hotel. Stopping by the cosmetic counter, she was professionally made up by a beautician who just happened to be there that day as part of some special promotion. Afterwards Pat had to be careful not to muss up her make up so that she would look radiant for the performance that evening.

The Oregon Symphony’s Halloween performance of “The Lost World” was very well attended. Based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book about dinosaurs living in the jungles of South America, the 1925 film had recently been restored to its original full length and many people were curious to see it. (The dinosaurs were animated by special effects wizard Willis O’Brien who later did the special effects animation for the original “King Kong.”) The Oregon Symphony rose to the occasion and did a masterful job performing the rather note-intensive musical accompaniment required to match the fast and furious action taking place on screen.

The next morning when we checked out of our hotel, it seemed like, overnight, downtown Portland had been transformed for the holiday season, with Christmas lights and decorations everywhere.

Arriving back at the Portland train station, we had a couple of hours before the Coast Starlight’s departure so, after checking our luggage, we used the time to visit Powell’s Books which was within easy walking distance. We’d been buying books from Powell’s for many years via mail order, and now we finally got to visit it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the week or two required to explore it more fully.

The return trip was uneventful since it was already dark when we passed through the Cascades Range and there was nothing to see.

We made good time reaching Los Angeles. (Back then, the Coast Starlight had had more than its share of late arrivals and had become known as the Coast “Star-late.”)

We arrived back in San Diego on Thursday November 2nd having had had another memorable rail adventure. That was almost 24 years ago!

Eric & Pat
 
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In a comment made to Michigan Mom’s recent trip report, we mentioned in passing that we’d once traveled to Portland, Oregon, a city that we’d never been to before, in October-November 2000. This was before we knew enough to write up trip reports detailing all that we had seen and done. Not having thought about that trip for many years, we decided to jot down some of our remembrances of it for our files. Since some of you might also find these remembrances of interest, we’ve posted them here as a short trip report.

That trip to Portland was actually made for business purposes: the Oregon Symphony Orchestra was going to accompany the 1925 silent film “The Lost World” during a special Halloween Eve performance that would take place in the old Fox Theater in downtown Portland. Since I’d prepared the special music score that was to be performed, I had to attend the rehearsals in order to confer with the conductor regarding any fixes or changes that needed to be made to the music.

Having to go to Portland provided us with the perfect excuse to book round trip bedroom accommodations on the Coast Starlight. (I don’t recall how far in advance we made the reservations, but it couldn’t have been more than a month or two before we were to travel.)

We left home at oh-dark-thirty on Sunday, October 29th. We parked our car at the North Island Naval Air Station where I worked as a civilian for the Navy and caught a cab to the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego where we caught the Pacific Surfliner to LA. (We would have had had to been on the first northbound PSL of the day in order to arrive in LA in enough time before the departure of the Coast Starlight.)

We reached LA without incident and enjoyed the ambience of Los Angeles Union Station’s main waiting room until it was time for the Coast Starlight to board. (Back then, we were unaware that the station had its own Metropolitan Lounge for sleeping car passengers.)

This was actually the second time that we’d made an overnight trip on the Coast Starlight. The first time had been in 1997 when we rode it to Seattle. (As part of my “day job” for the Navy, I had had to visit a Naval facility on Whidbey Island as part of an inspection team. Rather than flying up with the rest of team, I took the train so that Pat could come along with me. We made the return trip to San Diego via commercial air.)

One of the highlights of our first day on the Coast Starlight was going by Drawbridge, an odd assortment of long abandoned, weather beaten shacks located on the San Francisco Bay mudflats right next to the tracks. This was once a thriving community of railroad workers, bootleggers, and duck hunters. It is now protected by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as the only “certified” ghost town in the Bay Area.

The highlight of our second day onboard the Coast Starlight was the passage between Klamath Falls and Eugene and the 75-mile descent through the Cascade Range.

Arriving in Portland, we caught a cab to the Heathman Hotel, where the Oregon Symphony had graciously provided accommodations for us. The Heathman had a doorman out front wearing a great coat and white gloves just like you see doormen wearing in old movies. When we checked in, a member of the hotel staff mistook me for Harrison Ford, to whom I bear a passing resemblance.

The next day, October 31st, the day of the performance, we had some free time in the morning, and we walked around downtown Portland, visiting some of the stores. (It seemed like every block had its own Starbucks Coffee Shop.) We ate lunch at a large Todai buffet-style Japanese restaurant.

While I was attending the afternoon rehearsal, Pat went shopping at an upscale department store located close to our hotel. Stopping by the cosmetic counter, she was professionally made up by a beautician who just happened to be there that day as part of some special promotion. Afterwards Pat had to be careful not to muss up her make up so that she would look radiant for the performance that evening.

The Oregon Symphony’s Halloween performance of “The Lost World” was very well attended. Based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book about dinosaurs living in the jungles of South America, the 1925 film had recently been restored to its original full length and many people were curious to see it. (The dinosaurs were animated by special effects wizard Willis O’Brien who later did the special effects animation for the original “King Kong.”) The Oregon Symphony rose to the occasion and did a masterful job performing the rather note-intensive musical accompaniment required to match the fast and furious action taking place on screen.

The next morning when we checked out of our hotel, it seemed like, overnight, downtown Portland had been transformed for the holiday season, with Christmas lights and decorations everywhere.

Arriving back at the Portland train station, we had a couple of hours before the Coast Starlight’s departure so, after checking our luggage, we used the time to visit Powell’s Books which was within easy walking distance. We’d been buying books from Powell’s for many years via mail order, and now we finally got to visit it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the week or two required to explore it more fully.

The return trip was uneventful since it was already dark when we passed through the Cascades Range and there was nothing to see.

We made good time reaching Los Angeles. (Back then, the Coast Starlight had had more than its share of late arrivals and had become known as the Coast “Star-late.”)

We arrived back in San Diego on Thursday November 2nd having had had another memorable rail adventure. That was almost 24 years ago!

Eric & Pat
Glad you enjoyed the restored Heathman! My office was there in 1973 when I worked for the old Gray Line of Portland and it was decent but worn-looking.

A few years ago, I was in Powell's having a coffee pause between explorations and got to talking with a fellow who had found a seat opposite me. He turned out to be a professional photographer and told me about a gallery exhibition he was working on. What a coincidence, I told him, I was just down in Salem checking out the public display of one of my photos. (Pregnant pause.) In the new Greyhound bus station. He got a chuckle out of it.

1999 - the restored Paramount Theater. Could this have been where the performance took place?
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1999 - the restored Paramount Theater. Could this have been where the performance took place?
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The theater where the performance took place was located right next to the Heathman Hotel and was indeed the Paramount Portland. It was the theater where the Oregon Symphony Orchestra regularly performed. We have a Fox Theater in San Diego where the San Diego Symphony performs so that might have been what confused my memory.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The trip report has now been corrected.
 
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Does any of it still remain standing? We last saw it 24 years ago and it was pretty weather beaten and dilapidated back then.
Much the same as you described. Just a few remaining dilapidated structures. Its been 6 or 7 years since I passed through there on the Coast Starlight. You have to know where to look and then look quick! I have the point marked on my GPS to alert me when we approach. I looked at the last GPS tracklog and we were doing 75 MPH when we passed through there. You probably have a better chance of seeing it on a southbound train. Northbound, you are pretty much out of daylight by the time you get there. I thought I had a photo or two but, guess not...couldn't find them!
Here is an interesting piece from KQED in 2017 with some drone footage and other old photos.
https://www.kqed.org/news/11549263/the-island-ghost-town-in-the-middle-of-san-francisco-bay
 
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The theater where the performance took place was located right next to the Heathman Hotel and was indeed the Paramount Portland. It was the theater where the Oregon Symphony Orchestra regularly performed. We have a Fox Theater in San Diego where the San Diego Symphony performs so that might have been what confused my memory.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The trip report has now been corrected.
IIRC, there was a Fox theatre in Portland at one time, but the Paramount was one of the grand ones. The first time I saw a feature film was in the Paramount. I can't recall the film, but I remember the architecture.

In checking this, I learned a lot. It opened at the end of the silent era, so it was bigger and grander than the other 1928 Portland theaters. Before that time, Paramount Pictures were shown at an independent theater. The re-development of SW 7th Avenue into SW Broadway was taking place. Portland Traction put the newest streetcars on the Broadway line (which also served Union Station).

https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/...amount_theatre_arlene_schnitzer_concert_hall/
 
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