Mar 8 2016

Beginning in the late 1800s, the coastal enclave of Gearhart, OR, was a favorite home-away-from-home for many Portlanders, as well as those from Salem, Olympia, Seattle and beyond. Rustic cabins next to elegant Victorians and fancy resorts (precursors to our own Gearhart Hotel), a pleasant summer climate and a wide stretch of sand dune-fronted beach made it an ideal spot for those who had the means to support multiple households and months-long getaways.

Women and children stayed at their Gearhart residences for weeks at a time, while the men came in on Friday and returned to work on Sunday evening on what came to be known as "the Daddy Train." From the Sunday Oregonian (July 13, 1919):

When the ‘Daddy Train' rolls into Gearhart there is great rejoicing at the station. The resort is essentially one of homes where entire families, including the dogs and the motors, come down for a prolonged stay. The wide beach is the playground of scores of youngsters from the tiny tot in his first beach season, gravely shoveling in the sand, to the boys and girls who are almost grown up. The high sand dunes make the very best kind of slides, holding all of the thrills and none of the dangers of the commercial product. ... Women of Portland's smart set find the morning on the beach with the kiddies very enjoyable.

The Daddy Train cost five dollars and took five hours from Portland to Astoria and then south toward Seaside, aboard the Astoria and Columbia River Railroad (A&CR) line, completed in May 1898.

Another option for businessmen commuting out to the coast to be with their families was to take a steamboat from Portland to Astoria, then board the railway south. This photo to the left, taken in 1910, shows huge waves crashing up onto the Columbia River jetty/railroad in Astoria. Not sure that's the train I'd want to be on....

Although the railway had been banking on freight traffic, the inland tourists and weekend fathers flocking to coastal resorts proved to be a huge source of income for the A&CR. From the line's opening in 1898 to 1904, the population of Seaside, OR, tripled due to the convenient route.

The trains were the main source of transport between major Pacific Northwest cities and the coast. But as roads were paved and automobiles became more accessible, the Daddy Trains slowly ceased operation and were discontinued in the late 1930s.

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