"Visit the Oregon Electric Railway Museum Carbarn" Brooks Travelogue by glabah

Brooks Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 124 photos

Carbarn full of Stuff, and Then Some

The Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society has almost all of its equipment located at the Antique Powerland in Brooks, Oregon at the Oregon Electric Railway Museum. Their museum includes a fair amount of operating track (which is expanded every year) and a car barn where there are a number of interurban cars and street cars on display.

This travelogue is an expansion of the photos already available on the tourist tip I have written for the Oregon Electric Railway Museum so be sure to take a look at those photos as well. Also, the Oregon Electric Railway Museum tip has links to the OERHS web site that contains a number of photos and historical information about the collection owned by the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society.

An additional set of photos is now available on my 2012 Visit to the Carbarn Travelogue.

All of the photos in this travelogue were taken during the weekend of August 4th & 5th, 2007 during the Great Oregon Steam-up when a large amount of the equipment at the Antique Powerland museum complex (of which the Oregon Electric Railway Museum is one small part) is brought to life.

In the above photo, from left to right:
+ Oporto, Portugal car that arrived here in Brooks during June, 2006 (just before steam-up)
+ San Francisco MUNI car. This is one of the first series of "light rail" cars built. This series was made by Boeing for modernizing streetcar lines in Boston and San Francisco. MUNI was the last operator of this car design. This car is historically significant as it was the first to run over MUNI's lines. This was the first preserved light rail car, but after its preservation several others were removed from the fleet being scrapped in San Francisco for preservation elsewhere.
+ Vancouver, BC interurban car. This car has a beautiful interior, and proves that no only were old street cars and interurban railway cars functional, but also works of craftsmanship and art.

Please Note:
The Oregon Electric Railway Museum is not specifically tied to the Oregon Electric Railway. Instead, the name is generic: the focus is on all of the varios electric railways that once operated. In fact, except for the old Spokane Portland & Seattle caboose inside the car barn, no equipment in this museum operated on the Oregon Electric Railway.

Car 503 and PCC car

The car on the left is a San Francisco MUNI PCC car. Yes, it looks a bit like a 1950s bus. The car design was from the 1930s, and was an effort at building a modern streetcar at that time. Many of the concepts that went into the PCC car were determined to be good ideas and remained in use on buses for decades after streetcar service ended in most cities. The two door design, front entrance with farebox remains a constant today on just about all buses in North America.

Portland never had PCC streetcars. When Portland Traction Company chose to "modernize" it instead purchased the castoff equipment of other streetcar companies that were purchasing PCC cars. One of the reasons PCCs could not be used in Portland was that many of the lines required cars with operator controls at both ends, while only a few custom built PCC had controls at both ends.

The car on the right is a 1904 Portland Traction company car. It was one of the last streetcars in service in Portland. This particular car design has electric brakes so that it may be used on the steep lines in Portland, including Council Crest. Since Portland had both narrow gauge and standard gauge lines (all southeast lines crossing the Hawthorne Bridge were standard gauge) it would not have been unusual for the car to have been converted to standard gauge at some point during its regular use in Portland. What is unusual about the car are the trucks that were used to convert it to standard gauge: Australian W2 trucks from Melbourne.

Old Portland Traction emblem Still Visible on 503

The old Portland Traction Company emblem is still visible on the side of car 503, though it is quite faded. One can make out the outline of Mt. Hood, plus the city skyline above the "PTC" letters.

Old Jantzen Advertisement on Car 503

Jantzen has been a part of the local culture for many, many years. Two of the early advertisements for this swimsuit company are still on car # 503.

Blackpool Double Decker

A Blackpool double deck streetcar (OK, tram car as called in England) is also in the museum. This was also used on the Willamette Shore Trolley, including the very first runs of that tourist operation in 1986.

Steeple Cab Electric Locomotive behind Carbarn

These locomotives were pretty much standard on many of the small electric railroads in the late 1890s up to the 1950s. The shape of the frame allowed for some protection of the cab in the event of a collision with a wayward automobile (remember these were used on streetcar lines, and therefore wayward cars and trucks were common!) but still allowed a lot of visibility for those in the cab.

This unit was never used on the Portland Traction Company lines, or even in Oregon, but it is very similar to units that were used in Portland as well as almost all other small electric railroads in North America.

Car 506 - Original Narrow Gauge Configuration

Portland streetcar lines north of Hawthorne were built at 3 foot 6 inch gauge (distance between the rails). This tradition started with the original horse car lines in the city. The narrower gauge allowed for the car to turn sharper curves than they would have been able to had they been built to standard 4 foot 8.5 inches.

Everything crossing the Hawthorne Bridge was standard 4 foot 8.5 inch gauge, and so it was not unusual for Portland streetcars to have their wheels changed from time to time.

Car 503, above, was built as a narrow gauge car, and later turned into a standard gauge car by changing the wheels. Car 506 has kept its original 3 foot 6 inch gauge trucks. However, that also means that it will never be able to operate at the museum until some 3 foot 6 inch gauge track is in service.

The Back Track: Various Cars in Heavy Repair

On the back track (east track) of the car barn, there are several cars that need quite a bit of work.

Next to car 506 (see above) you will find a Los Angeles Railway "Yellow Car" that once operated on the 3 foot 6 inch gauge network in Los Angeles. This car is fairly well hidden in this photo.

The green double deck car is a Hong Kong double deck single truck car that was brought to Portland as part of a local business idea put forth by the man who owned the Made in Oregon chain of stores. Unfortunately, the car was not stored well, and many pieces were stolen from it while it was in storage.

The wooden car closest to the camera is the last Portland Traction Company snow sweeper car. It was built in 1899, and is the oldest car in the collection. It was used heavily during the big snow storm of 1956, which was the last big snow storm the Portland Traction Company saw while it still had passenger service.

In addition to these photos:
The Great Oregon Steam-up tip also includes a photo of the Australian open car in service at the museum and crossing the main gate road at the operating wig-wag signal. This car was not in the car barn when these photos were taken since it is currently the museum's most heavily used car for giving streetcar rides.

The Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society also operates the Willamette Shore Trolley, and therefore some equipment is being used in Lake Oswego to maintain that operation.

Equipment not Pictured Here:
The OERHS has quite an assortment of equipment, including several electric trolley buses similar to those used in Portland into the early 1960s. Naturally, these buses are actually from Seattle, which used them much later. There are also three freight motors. The several small diesel locomotives include one that belongs to the OERHS and was donated to them, and the rest which are in storage for people that are friends of the museum.

For more photos of the equipment they own, and detailed history of each of the cars, please see the tip about the Oregon Electric Railway Museum as there are links there to the OERHS web site with far more information and photos than could be put here.

Also, I have my 2012 Visit to the Carbarn Travelogue.

  • Page Updated May 9, 2016
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse



“Do something every day that scares you - even if just a little bit.”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 1 6 7
Forum Rank:
0 0 0 5 8

Badges & Stats in Brooks

  • 14 Reviews
  • 124 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 5,064PageViews

Have you been to Brooks?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Brooks

Videos in Brooks

See All Videos (37)

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)