2004 began fairly snowy in the Washington Cascades. Years past have seen rather weak snowfall but this winter I seemed to get more winter scenes than ever before. Then we will move into springtime with a few trips into south central Washington to view the Peach Blossoms of Maryhill in the Columbia River Gorge which was a first for me. It is really something worth visiting although the window the blossoms are at their peak is a mere matter of days! Following that we will check out some of the orchards west of Wenatchee, WA which will take us into April.

        After a cloudy and rainy start to May in the Seattle area nicer weather was in store along the Columbia River gorge when Robert Gatchel and I attended Gorgerail, a yearly gathering of railfans from the northwest. Terrific scenery and numerous trains with leased/pooled power were plentiful. June and July saw trips to Montana where oddities like a set of three MRL SD35's operating on the MRL gas local between Missoula and Thompson Falls. July saw very warm weather in Montana but I didn't complain too loudly as the sun made for a very enjoyable time.

        August was my last summertime trip to Montana for the year. Word was out that 11 of the 16 remaining ex-NP semaphores between St Regis and Spring Gulch were to be replaced this year leaving just five between Quinns and Toole on the St Regis cutoff. So Scott Brons, Drew Mitchem and I headed for Montana for a last shot of the "blades" and sure enough, most of the replacements were up but not yet activated. The August update is devoted to that one trip where we managed to photograph all 11 of those semaphores.

        September saw a few day trips over Stevens Pass to the Trinidad area was spent photographing places like Trinidad and enjoying the area around the crater. I also took the opportunity of nice weather to photograph some Seattle scenes I see every day but rarely photograph.

        October was finishing a trip I had started in 1994 but never completed. Going to Horseshoe Curve in Pennsylvania. Unlike 1994 which had steady rain nonstop, this trip was a success. My friend Robert Gatchel and I did our homework before leaving and with nice weather much of the time enjoyed the fall colors and trains of Sandpatch grade on the CSX and then Horseshoe on the NS. I also got to see a bit of Maryland, a state I had never been to. This was probably one my favorite trips which deservingly rates a 2 page update. These are two places every railfan needs to visit at least once in their lifetime.

        November was pretty dreary with me not getting out much. But the end of the month had a nice snowstorm on Stevens Pass so Robert and I managed to photograph quite a few nice winter scenes. December had another nice snowfall up in the Cascades early in the month. And of course Christmas came to the Northwest. The Seattle monorail (built for the 1962 Worlds Fair) r eopened just before Christmas after electrical problems had shut it down some time ago.

        In summary, 2004 saw a snowy start leading to my first opportunity to photograph the Maryhill blossoms in spring. Summertime shooting semaphores on the MRL, Autumn on Sandpatch and Horseshoe finishing up the year with snow in the Cascades. All in all, it was a great year.



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