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ABOVE: The rugged Oregon Trunk line comes alive at night. A northbound “baretable” intermodal train crosses the Crooked River bridge near Terrebonne, Ore., at 3:56 a.m. on May 19, 2011. This BNSF train is bound for Seattle and connections to other Pacific ports.


LEFT: Portland has a postindustrial and progressive face, but it still has a port for its soul. The old industrial corridors never sleep, navigated ceaselessly by trucks, ships, and trains. After dark on January 21, 2011, Union Pacific power approaches the O Dock export grain elevator along the Willamette River. The engines are heading for Brooklyn yard, where they will pickup the hot nightly Z train for Los Angeles.


the night. Then the bass faded as the train swung away through the first of the two horseshoe curves that loop the track up the steep flank of Coyote Mountain on a steady 1.8 per cent grade. For 45 minutes it traveled in and out of sound, until the sudden crescendo when the headend power emerged from Tunnel 7, thundered right below me, and vanished into a


curving path of light. Minutes later, the rear locomotives repeated the perfor- mance, the block signals leading down- grade flashed all-clear and then went out, and finally the night's stillness ca- ressed me again.


Strong Impressions


The Northwest has gripped me from my first encounter. It was a wind-swept


drive down the Columbia Gorge, the view out the back windows of my grandparents’ blue Dodge limited to just a few shades of gray. The river was dark and menacing and white-capped, like my grandfather’s knuckles at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. I was 12 years old and seeing the West for the first time, taking hundreds of fuzzy snapshots, but only one from that


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