For my birthday my Dad bought tickets for a Model T tour of Central Oregon’s Trunk Railway. The Jefferson County Historical Society organizes a Model T trip each year as a fundraiser and this year it was led by Jerry Ramsey. June is a tempestuous time in Central Oregon weather, but luckily there were clear skies and minimal Model T breakdowns during our daylong adventure.
I had gotten a new camera for my birthday earlier that morning, so I took lots of pictures…
The trip started in downtown Madras, wound under the trestle up to Agency plains with a quick stop at the Beamer’s before taking the Old Campbell Road to Pelton Dam, continued further to the ferry crossing near Warm Springs and then back to Madras. Notice how street names, distances or directions are slim pickings? That’s how it’s done out here.
Having grown up in Madras I knew some of the people on the trip; our driver was John Campbell, who went to high school a few years ahead of me, and his dad, John Campbell (these are the same Campbells that the Old Campbell Road is named after). John (Sr) also had a twin, Dave Campbell, who drove another Model T that later beat us in a road race due to 10 extra horse power.
On the Road
While Madras might not be the most happening town on Highway 97, one thing Central Oregon doesn’t lack is plenty of high desert scenery and about 174,000,000 different types of clouds. I only was able to catch fourteen kinds, but I’m an amateur…
Central Oregon Clouds
All in all there were twelve Model T’s and Model A’s in our caravan, and everywhere we drove people waved and clapped. I practiced my parade wave while the toots and honks of ancient car horns were heard all through Madras. Some of the cars were parade worthy with shiny paint jobs and fancy spokes, while others were in-progress workhorses that wore their age with pride (except when our T blew a spark plug going up a hill and we had to disperse into other vehicles so it could summit without actual horses pulling it).
Model T Parts
Towards the end of the trip we stopped at the Ramsey’s house for a picnic of BBQ chicken, baked beans, potato salad, biscuits, strawberries and FIVE kinds of cookies. I tried three kinds and they were all delicious. Their house was one of the original homesteads in Madras (1914), and while it had been renovated to meet the demands of the 21st century lifestyle, it still had plenty of charm.
A Homestead Picnic
I saw plenty of new scenery, made a few new friends, and went home with a full belly…which to me constitutes a darn good birthday outing.