Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yesterday was gloomy. It started out with a slight drizzle, that turned into a light rain, then the wind kicked up and it was cold. We decided it would be a good day to get caught up on "stuff" in the coach. 

Today brought some puffy clouds and a little sunshine. The weatherman promised no more rain and the clouds would be gone by late afternoon. Taking him at his word, we decided to head out to the air museum in Tillamook. Turns out this is a huge museum with not too many aircraft. It was, however, a very enjoyable afternoon looking at the vintage planes they had displayed and reading all the information about helium filled aircraft, its usage in WWII, and the people who piloted them.

Tillamook Naval Air Station Air Museum
Tillamook, Oregon

This is Hanger B. Hanger A burned in 1992 and had to be destroyed. The hangers were made of wood due to metal rationing during WWII. It was built in 1943.

The Naval Air Station at Tillamook was commissioned in 1942, constructed in 1943 and with the end of WWII, was decommissioned in 1948. The Naval Air Station does live on in the form of Tillamook Airport located about 10 miles away.

This picture shows the hanger with an airship on it's tether. Notice the Navy men attending the ship. That will give you an idea of how large this hanger really is. If you double click the photo, it should enlarge it enough for you to view. Our largest airship was the Akron at a length of 735 feet. Compare that to the Goodyear blimp of today which is 190 feet long !

As part of the museum, there are many photos taken during the construction of the hangers. They were built to house lighter than air airship, better known as derigibles or blimps. These were used for minesweeping, search and rescue, reconnaissance, escorting convoys and antisubmarine patrol.

The ones stationed in Oregon played a role closer to home. From Nov. 1944 to Apr. 1945 the Japanese launched over 9000 balloons, each carrying a 33 lb. incendiary bomb in the hopes the winds would carry these weapons to the U.S. An estimated 1000 of these balloons actually reached our shores. Only 1, however, resulted in fatalities, killing a family of six. The airships from this Naval Station were responsible for intercepting and destroying these balloons in flight.

This is another picture of Hanger B today. Notice the pickup and trailer in front. It is the largest known wooden structure in the world.

Near the air museum, we discovered a boneyard of sorts for train equipment. It screamed at us to come explore. So, what's a couple train enthusiasts to do..?

Here's Josh trying to figure out what the heck all these switches, levers and gauges do. These engines and cars were taken out of service for one reason or another and will eventually be scrapped, restored or pirated for parts. This engine was taken out of service in 2008.

If you've never been in the driver's seat on one of these behemoths, here's what the engineers get to fiddle with all day. This is what Josh was trying to figure out. All I can tell you is the bottom lever was the GO switch and the top red handle the WHOA switch.

In the old days, oh!, that would be my days....you knew where the end of the train was. It was the caboose, of course. The caboose provided the train crew with a shelter at the rear of the train. The crew could exit the train for switching or to protect the rear of the train when stopped. They also inspected the train for problems such as shifting loads, broken or dragging equipment, and hot boxes (overheated axle bearings, a serious fire and derailment threat). The conductor kept records and handled business from a table or desk in the caboose. Here you can see the interior of this caboose. That is a coal fired stove/heater in the left rear. Across from that was a toilet room. The conductors chairs each had a table and could be turned around as needed. There was also an icebox and a sink. Modern technology made the caboose unnecessary and they were discontinued in the 1980s.

Upon returning home we were treated to sunny clear skies, just like the weatherman predicted, although the wind was cold. We were fortunate enough to be visited by not one but two bald eagles, who irritated the heck out of the resident seagulls. We watched as one pulled a fish from the water and landed on a nearby pierpost to eat. It's times like this I wish I had a telephoto lens. I was able to get within 100' of him before he decided I was too close and flew off with his booty.

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