Here's an exercise for your imagination: What do you think goes on in that light bue Quonset hut a block from the Portway Tavern on West Marine Drive?

If you picture a secret chemical laboratory or an alien communication center, maybe you should write for the movies. Take a peek for real, and you'll find members of the Astoria Railroad Preservation Association hard at work cleaning, repairing and refurbishing a vintage steam locomotive.

The ARPA opens its doors to the public with its annual open house, barbecue and musical benefit Sunday, Sept. 25.

Festivities begin at noon with an open house at the ARPA Restoration Shop, 466 W. Marine Drive, to give the public an opportunity to view the progress of the association's restoration of Steam Locomotive No. 21 to operating condition.

The music and barbecue start at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of The Portway Tavern, 422 W. Marine Drive, featuring bands The Local Yokels, Salty Dogs and The Blues Band. The event is free and open to all ages. Donations are welcome and the money raised will fund the final stages of the locomotive restoration.

The Astoria Railroad Preservation Association is an educational nonprofit corporation dedicated to promoting public awareness of railroad history through the preservation and operation of vintage railway equipment. For information about the ARPA or Sunday's event, call the Restoration Shop at (503) 325-5323.

Do you have a suggestion for how readers can enjoy their weekend on the coast? Send comments by Monday the week of publication to Coast Weekend, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR 97103 or e-mail kstrecker@dailyastorian.com

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