Like many others, my fascination with electric trains began in childhood, but had its roots in real railroads, principally the Union Pacific.My mother would take me, and later my sister and me, from Union Station in Portland, Oregon to Miami, Florida to spend time with her parents in Coral Gables.  We traveled on the UP City of Portland to Chicago and then the ACL’s South Wind on to Miami.


I can still recall arriving at the station in Portland with the head of this beautiful streamliner poised at the very edge of the street waiting to cross the Willamette via the Steel Bridge.  The start would be so smooth you would not notice it unless you were looking outside and see the platform begin to edge backwards.  My dad would walk along beside our window until he reached the end of the platform.  I was always eager to see the yards after we crossed the bridge.

That first night was also special.My mom and sister would share the lower berth in the Pullman.  I would have the upper.Long after I was supposed to be asleep, I would slide open the door covering the small window and watch the Wyoming desert slide by in the moonlight.

One Christmas I received a Lionel set.  O27 2020 steam engine/tender, transformer car, operating log car, work crane and work caboose.  A simple oval of track.I loved it.When we moved from 54th street to Failing street in Portland, my dad built the first of our layouts; a single oval with a couple of switches.  We still had the log car (dumping into the plastic tray) and had added the milk car and the cattle car.For years, these would be the only operating accessories we had.  He also added the 2023 AA Alco’s in the Armour Yellow/Harbor Mist Grey/Red UP livery...just lovely.

A move to Lake Oswego in the summer between my 3rd and 4th grades led to the construction of another, larger layout in the basement.  It was a reverse C that allowed the operation of two trains at the same time and required the addition of a ZW transformer.  While the layout was operational, the scenery was never completed.  Before my Senior year of HS, we began a series of moves that left the trains in boxes, moving from state to state.