Annual holiday tree train rides suspended

first_imgAn increasingly bitter dispute between Clark County and a railroad operator has spilled into a Christmas-themed train excursion sponsored by a local nonprofit. The Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, a nonprofit that offers train rides near Yacolt for education and entertainment purposes, reached out to 165 households on Friday telling them that their reservations for its Christmas tree train rides would be canceled for this weekend and possibly the next unless some sort of resolution can be reached. Doug Auburg, the group’s treasurer and crew scheduler, said that the excursion involves a train ride on a stretch of the railroad, a visit with Santa Claus, cookies, hot beverages and a Christmas tree to take home. He said that families have made the event part of their holiday traditions for years, and it’s been the biggest fundraiser for the all-volunteer nonprofit.But he said that earlier this week his group received bad news from the Portland Vancouver Junction Railroad, the primary leaseholder for the county-owned railroad that the nonprofit uses for its excursions under a sublease. He said that the company told the nonprofit that it would not allow the use of the railroad and applied a derail to the track, a device that prevents trains from running on it. “We’re caught between these two parties with lawyers,” said Auburg. “I don’t want to hire a lawyer, and I don’t want to make either one of them enemies. I would like to get out from in between them and do what we want to do.”last_img read more