What a great vacation. I got to travel and explore the entire 20 miles or so of the railroad bed (it is now a paved bicycle path) used in the filming of the great silent picture, "The General" by Buster Keaton. I learned so much about how he made that movie. The railroad was at the time a functioning railroad that he was able to halt operations to film the movie. He choose the site near Cottage Grove, Oregon because the railroad there was using three civil war era woodburning engines (the only ones still in operational use in the late 1920s, so Keaton paid $40,000 for them), there was a good road that ran along side of the railroad for filming, and the terrain which looked a lot like the mountians of North Georgia and East Tennessee. The town of "Big Shanty, Georgia" was a local lumber camp who was the primary customer of the railroad and many of the buildings seen in the movie are still there. The town of Oak Grove was used as the town of "Marietta, Georgia" and still has many of those buildings as well. I got to see the spot were the "Union" engine the "Texas" fell into the river while trying to cross a burning bridge in the movie. It is a great area to explore and still looks much like it did when the movie was made.
The high point of my vacation was visiting Fort Clatsop, Oregon, the spot where Lewis and Clark wintered on the Pacific Coast during their Louisiana territory exploration, a must see for any serious American historian and a life long dream for me.