Home Open Account Help 301 users online

Steam & Excursion > SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away


Date: 02/21/18 23:53
SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Jim700

Greg passed away at about 10:25 this morning at just over 75½ years old after losing his very short battle with pancreatic cancer. Last October he noticed a health change when any food he ate started having a very bad taste to it. He put up with it for some time but finally decided it was time to visit a doctor. Sad news followed as by December he was told that he had a pancreatic tumor but that the resulting cancer had not yet reached stage 4 and he would be treated with chemotherapy. However, that was not successful because only the first half of the first day’s weekly treatment could be administered because of a too high bile level. After a few weeks of trying to lower the then-stable too-high level it suddenly started to elevate, and they gave him the sad news that nothing more could be done. Last month he was moved from the hospital to a private home hospice in southeast Portland. He was well cared for there and was very blessed to not be plagued by the severe pain that many pancreatic cancer patients experience.

Greg had the honor of being the very last SP&S-hired employee working and he never retired; he's just been off sick since October. Starting out on the SP&S, which was then leased by the BN for 10 years before being merged into the company in 1980, and being merged again with the Santa Fe, he's experienced a lot of different management styles in 5½ decades. We would both go back to the SP&S in a heartbeat if it still existed as a separate entity.

Probably none of you know that Greg and I came to know each other 60 years ago all because of a steam whistle. I spent my school-age summers from 1956 through my high school graduation year 1964 with my retired maternal grandparents who lived in Riverview, an unincorporated community which was just east of the old logging and mill town of Vernonia, Oregon and separated from it only by the Nehalem River which flows northward at that point.

Greg grew up in Vernonia watching the Oregon-American / Long-Bell / International Paper #105 pulling log trains passing his house on the way to the lumber mill as seen in the first picture and text which was published in the Vernonia Eagle on 07/28/1966 by his father Marvin Kamholz (who was the owner and publisher) 36 days before I hired out on the SP&S Railway.

As it became known that the mill would be shutting down many of Vernonia's business owners and residents decided that something needed to be done to help save Vernonia from becoming a ghost town and thus the "Vernonia Friendship Jamboree" was born which continues to this day. Someone decided that they should go over to the mill and fire up the dormant #105 and run it out onto the SP&S main line near the depot to spark interest in the Jamboree. When I heard that whistle over in Riverview a bicycle never got pedaled so fast up and over O-A Hill into Vernonia as did mine. Greg was there and that's when we first met. As I recall, he was just a couple weeks shy of being old enough to get his driver's license and I was four years younger.

In the “It’s a Small World” department we discovered when talking one day a few years later that his father and my mother were schoolmates in the '20s and early '30s at the end of an SP&S branch line in Goldendale, Washington where my mother's parents owned a bakery from the early '20s to the mid '40s.

Both of us became a part of the original group which formed the non-profit Vernonia, South Park & Sunset Steam Railroad and both of us hired out on the SP&S Railway in engine service, he in Fall of 1962 and me four years later. As thrilled as we both were to assist the volunteers who had fired up the 105 for the Jamboree neither of us had a clue that a decade later we would both be SP&S Railway employees assigned to fire that same engine.

While there were steam-starved years in the middle of our railroad careers, Greg and I have been so blessed to be able to share our nearly life-long friendship working steam together in so many places. I have fired for Greg and he has fired for me on the Vernonia, South Park & Sunset Steam Railroad, the City of Portland-owned SP&S 700 (the second picture, taken by the late Joel King in Billings, Montana), the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, and on several steamers (both rod and geared) on the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad.

The third picture is of Greg on his last steam run. It was on the McCloud #25 on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad ( http://oregoncoastscenic.org/ ) on September 11, 2017. I was assigned as his fireman that day. As it turned out, it was like completing a circle by ending at the beginning. As I wrote above, we first worked as Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway firemen on a Baldwin 2-6-2 Prairie logging steamer over a half century ago. Then on to many other steamers, including the many times larger SP&S 700 (which my father ran in SP&S freight service in the early '50s), and ended up right back on a Prairie logging steamer; just an ALCO instead of a Baldwin. I'm going to miss Greg terribly. He has been my best friend and mentor for 60 years.



EDIT: I did not know until Denny fessed up in his posting below that he and his son Brandon had arranged for Greg and me to be on the engine crew together on September 11th. Because the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad’s crew needs are substantial during their summertime daily operations I had been contacted about three years ago to see if I could help out. Unfortunately, my dear late wife was by that time in her eighth year of Alzheimer’s Disease. Up until July 2015 on the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and October 2015 on the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad I was still able to participate as a crew member because it was possible to make certain accommodations for Alyce’s health condition. Though they may be in the future, the OCSR’s coaches were not accessible at that time by people who are in a wheelchair. Last summer, after Alyce’s passing, I asked the OCSR if they still needed help and as a result I was assigned as Brandon’s fireman on August 19th and qualified as an engineer on the route later the same day after we traded sides of the cab. Greg had already been a crew member there for quite some time. I had just assumed that Greg and I ended up being on the September 11th engine crew together in the course of normal scheduling. THANK YOU, THANK YOU Brandon and Denny for scheming to put us together on that day which, sadly, became Greg’s very last day on a steamer. I am so grateful that our last day working together ended up being back on a logging lokie as I described above.



Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/18 09:19 by Jim700.








Date: 02/22/18 04:45
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: LoggerHogger

Very sad news Jim. We have lost a very good man. God's Speed Greg.

Martin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/18 04:53 by LoggerHogger.




Date: 02/22/18 06:11
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Hillcrest

Sorry for the loss of your good friend, Jim.

Dave



Date: 02/22/18 06:19
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Bob3985

My sympathies for the passing of a fine man with a past in steam.

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY



Date: 02/22/18 08:05
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Locoinsp

My condolences to you on the loss of your friend



Date: 02/22/18 09:59
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: asheldrake

GREAT tribute Jim....yes, a very sad loss of a good man. RIP Greg. Arlen



Date: 02/22/18 13:49
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: vcrdenny

My son, Brandon, was able to arrange a once in a life time opportunity for Greg and his friend Jim Abney to engineer and fireman on the McCloud #25. This happened on Sept.11 2017 at the Oregon Coast Scenic RR.
I was lucky enough to ride along with these two great guys and enjoy their camaraderie. They worked like a well oiled machine as they had over the 60 years of their friendship.

Denny Thompson



Date: 02/22/18 14:32
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: weather

A great loss and a life cut too short. Very sad.



Date: 02/22/18 15:39
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: nycman

Jim, I am so sorry to hear that news. Both you and Greg have been so accommodating and just plain NICE to us railfans. I join you in your grief.
Photo of Greg at the Mt. Rainier Scenic several years ago.




Date: 02/22/18 16:55
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: cewherry

So sorry to hear of Greg's passing. I only knew Greg through seeing him on his daylight yard job at Vancouver while I was working
the Seattle-Vancouver freight pool. Never knew of his steam connection until one day, while southbound I was held at Vancouver Jct. for
the 700 to go north to Longview on a break-in round trip. I stood out on the front end of my power while the 700 with Greg at the throttle
slowly accelerated north after leaving the north end of the 'B' Yard. He looked every bit in control with a big grin on his face as the
big Northern barked out of town. High Green, Greg. RIP.

Charlie



Date: 02/22/18 18:34
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: RuleG

I'm so sorry for the loss of your close friend.

You wrote a wonderful tribute.



Date: 02/22/18 19:14
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Jim700

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So sorry to hear of Greg's passing. I only knew Greg through seeing him on his daylight yard job
> at Vancouver while I was working the Seattle-Vancouver freight pool. Never knew of his steam
> connection until one day, while southbound I was held at Vancouver Jct. for the 700 to go north
> to Longview on a break-in round trip. I stood out on the front end of my power while the 700 with
> Greg at the throttle slowly accelerated north after leaving the north end of the 'B' Yard. He
> looked every bit in control with a big grin on his face as the big Northern barked out of town.
> High Green, Greg. RIP.
>
> Charlie

Yeah, it was a big grin, Charlie, but it wasn't long until it turned into a sweaty brow. I don't remember the tonnage for sure, but I think it was around 4,000. We soon discovered that we were the first train over the track after the weed sprayer had passed and it sure was slippery. I had a much easier time running the return trip with a smaller train and no weed spray problem.

Greg's run to Longview Junction that day reminded me so much of the very last trip of the Vernonia, South Park & Sunset Steam Railroad on October 19, 1969. That year Greg and I alternated Sundays and I was the SP&S fireman that day. The SP&S engineer was old head Oregon Electric engineer Helmer "Obie" Oberg who, deciding he just wanted to go along for the ride for a to-become-obvious reason, put Greg in the right hand seat of the ex-Oregon-American Lumber Company 2-6-2 #105 leaving the Banks originating terminal. Just west of Manning siding as we started up the 6+ miles of 2.3% grade to just west of Tophill siding the reason became obvious as Greg battled his way up the east side of Hares Canyon on the SP&S Vernonia Branch. With eight ex-Oregon Electric interurban cars and one Union Pacific ruins-the-passenger-train-look caboose in tow he had his work cut out for him as the track had not seen a train in nearly a month and the rails were covered with wet fallen leaves. There was sweat on his brow that day!



Date: 02/22/18 19:35
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: wabash2800

Thanks for sharing and the interesting story. My condolences.

Victor A. Baird
http://www.erstwhilepublications.com



Date: 02/23/18 00:06
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Jim700

Thank you to all of you who have expressed condolences. I have to admit it's tough to lose both the love of my life and my 60-year best friend in just 9½ months.

Greg's brother Ed told me that he is planning to hold a memorial service for Greg but that it will be at least a month, and likely two months, in the future. I will post a notice when a date becomes known.



Date: 02/23/18 07:12
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: switchlock

That is a great tribute, Jim. I'm very sorry to hear of your losses this past year.

Jim Grimwood
Manhattan, KS



Date: 02/23/18 10:38
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: McCloud25

On advice of myself, I will neither confirm or deny I conspired to put Jim and Greg in the cab of the #25 together last fall.

What I will confim is I took the previously scheduled fireman off the schedule that day and added Jim. It was one of those things that was a no brainer when the opportunity present itself.

We are all sad at Greg’s passing.

Brandon

Posted from iPhone



Date: 02/24/18 10:46
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Fallbridge4449

Very thoughtful and a great tribute Jim to Mr. Greg Kamholz. Also to read your post and to learn of your wife's passing, all of this in a very short period of time.

Take care Dean

See train orders link below with Jim's discussion about V.S.P & S.S. R.R #105

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,3333115,3333115#3333115



Date: 03/01/18 04:02
Memorial for Greg Kamholz
Author: Jim700

There will be a memorial for Greg at 6:30 PM on Monday, March 19th at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center enginehouse in Portland.



Date: 03/02/18 10:08
Re: SP&S 700 senior engineer Greg Kamholz passes away
Author: Leia

Hi everyone!

I am putting together a slide show for Greg's memorial, that will be held at 6:30 pm on March 19th at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center in Portland.

If any of you have photos or videos of Greg that you don't mind sharing for this, please send them to the email below with your name and any location/event/date information you have of the scene(s). Please note that photos or videos may be cropped or edited for the sake of producing the slide show, and that all contributors will be listed in alpha-order (only) at the end of the show.

Photos and videos for the slide show are needed on or by the 10th of this month.

Photos and videos submitted will not be used for any purposes other than the slide show.

Thank you in advance,
Leia

sps700.email@gmail.com



Date: 03/17/18 11:09
Re: Memorial for Greg Kamholz
Author: asheldrake

parking will be an issue.....best way to get to ORHC is via the streetcar or MAX orange/yellow



[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.1068 seconds