In Canby, Oregon, it's trains, cranes, and giant pumpkins

Karl Samson

Remember those old postcards that showed a single humongousear of corn filling the entire bed of a truck? If you thoughtvegetables that big were just farmers' fantasies, then you haven'tbeen to the annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off in Canby, Oregon.

Pumpkins of a more manageable size are also plentiful this monthat Canby-area farms. Throw in a corn maze, a straw-bale "mountain,"and a haunted barn, and you'll have enough activities to keep thewhole family busy.

To reach Canby from Portland or other points north, you'll needto take the six-vehicle Canby Ferry ($1.25 each way; 503/650-3030)across the Willamette River. The ferry, which runs along overheadand underwater cables, is one of only three on the Willamette.

Once across the river, your first stop should be at the FlowerFarmer (2512 N. Holly St.; www.flowerfarmer.com or503/266-3581), where the narrow-gauge Ichabod Train ($3.75),with its giant jack-o'-lantern engine, takes you to a pumpkinpatch. A maze inside the farm's pyramidal Straw Mountain also giveskids a place to burn off excess energy.Next, head 2 miles south toHoffman's Dairy Garden (6815 S. Knights Bridge Rd.; www.hoffmanfamilyfarms.com,where you'll find a corn maze ($3) and a haunted barn. Visit onOctober 2 for the Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off (10-6; $5), and you'll also get to see some of the mostpumped-up pumpkins on earth. Last year, a specimen grown byOregonian Steve Daletas tipped the scales at 1,385 pounds, settinga new world record.

The pumpkins are weighed at the end of the day, and tensionmounts as forklifts carefully shuttle potential prizewinners to thescales. When the first tops 1,000 pounds, a gasp of amazementripples through the crowd before the cheering begins.

But the highlight of the day is the pumpkin car crush, where acrane hoists a giant pumpkin 100 feet into the air and then dropsit onto an old car. The resulting destruction lends new meaning tothe word squash.

Go to Canby

Canby is about 20 miles south of downtown Portland. From I-5,take I-205 south to Stafford Rd. (exit 3) and continue south. Bearleft onto Mountain Rd. and go south 4 1/2 miles to the Canby Ferry.For more information, contact Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory (www.mthoodterritory.comor 888/622-4822).

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