“Northern Pacific to Pike”


When I was 11, my brother 8 and my sisters 5 and 3, we again took the train, this time the Northern Pacific,  from Portland to Buffalo to visit my grandparents. On the journey, we went coach, so there were no separate beds or bathroom. We slept more or less sitting up and washed and changed our clothes in the common women’s bathroom. My father had given a porter a generous tip as we began our trip, so we were well looked after on the journey.

My brother and I had free range of the train, a great experience for us. We ate by ourselves in the dining car and took a deck of cards up to the Vista Dome car. We played endless rounds of our two favorite card games, Casino and Canasta. One late night a porter invited my brother and me out onto the platform between two cars to watch a box car on fire across the prairie. Going between cars in general was a great thrill, as one balanced on one car while the door slammed behind you and you pushed on the car door ahead. We would often walk the length of the train and back.

Pike, as pictured here from the back entrance, was paradise at this age. We rode bikes, played, swam and checked out books from the library. A special thrill was trying to catch fire flies. We didn’t have them in Oregon, and their flitting lights among the flowers delighted us all. We were never able to catch any, but we had a great time trying. We spent a full month this time, pretty much unsupervised along with all the other kids in Pike.

When I think about being a kid in the summer, I think of that summer in Pike.

6 thoughts on ““Northern Pacific to Pike”

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