Last week I was editing an image of the Daylight for an upcoming project. While I worked on it my mind wandered to the locomotive and how far it and its Portland based sisters have come. All three have gone from work a day locomotives to retirement (and possible scrapping) to restored to operating (well, almost for the 197). Now, in just a matter of weeks their new, permanent, home and repair facility will officially open.
Many will bemoan the demise of the Brooklyn Roundhouse, but we as railfans have to throw out the romance of history for a moment and look to the future. In fact we have to do just what the ORHF (Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation for those readers not familar) did. When the organization started, Brooklyn acted as a home but there was always a feeling of temporariness about it. In 1996 when SP merged with UP in I think the fears about the future just increased. Visitors at Brooklyn were welcome however there was no official welcome mat thanks to the fact the roundhouse was on private property. With no stable, guaranteed permanent home the future of the locomotives seemed a bit (steam) clouded.
There was too much investment all three locomotives to let the effort drop just because there was no building. The result was the ORHF. From virtually nothing the ORHF organized, rallied support, raised funds (just over $5M according to their website), shook hands, gave cab rides, and entertained a lot of people. They, more importantly, formed a vision for the future to ensure that not only would the locomotives be preserved but future generations would have a place to visit and enjoy them.
Now, the results of their vision is about to open its doors.
For me and my family this very exciting. My youngest daughter is enamored with the Daylight, 700, and 197. She loves them. If they had just disappeared she would have been very sad. As I write this today the future of the three locomotives is very bright and now throughout her life my daughter will have a chance to experience the romance of steam up close and personal. She can can touch, see, and smell what steam is all about. Oh, I’m sure I’ll enjoy my visits too!
At this point, I say go support what you love. Contribute in some way to your favorite (rail related) organization. I have contributed to what I (and my kids) love and now I’m seeing the results.
Last week I wrote about my daughter and I watching the SP&S 700 pull the Holiday Express. As I mentioned she was thrilled to see the 700 out pulling a train. For her though steam is all about the SP 4449. It is her real passion and if you gave her a choice the ’49 would be the clear winner. That all said if there’s steam operating she’s still happy.
After our family train ride and gift shopping on Saturday she and I headed back for some railfanning on Sunday. Just like last week the weather was perfect for steam. Cool and moist and calm. We arrived for the 10am departure and found our photo location. 10am on the dot Doyle whistled off and the whistle echoed off all the surrounding hills. What a wonderful way to start!
Of course on the first run of the day the cylinder cocks were open and the rush of steam was spectacular. The throttle was open to overcome the slight grade coming out of Oaks Park station and I’m sure the reverser was all the way forward. The bark of the exhaust was sharp and Doyle kept the speed down and the train moved south. Slowly the Daylight and its cloud of steam worked past us. All I can say is wow. For some reason that 4 minutes of steam engine sights and sounds was one of the very best I’ve experienced. I literally felt immersed in the sound emitted from the Daylight.
I’m quite certain Haley enjoyed it too. After the train moved north she pointed back to another spot closer to the tracks where we could stand for the next trip at 11am. She wanted more. For the love of the Daylight!
An excursion behind the Daylight just can’t be ignored, especially when the sun is out! Yesterday my daughter and I spent the day chasing the Daylight around the gorge and as usual with excursions I had a chance for one photo of the train going each direction. After photographing the train in Stevenson we drove out to Wishram to watch the train turn. On the way back we stopped at Home Valley and caught the excursion winding through the S curve east of town.
There was lots of driving but since the main goal was for Haley to see the Daylight I mark the day as a success!
Having a daughter who loves trains means attending National Train Day is a “no brainer” for me. It is not so much am I going but rather when. To make our NTD more of an adventure we decided to use Max to get down to the station. With the yellow line stopping a mere block from the depot that seemed much more fun than fighting traffic. As we were leaving traffic around the depot was really heavy so I’m very happy I chose to take Max.
National Train Day is about getting people out to learn about trains. Judging from the crowds around Portland Union Station this morning there was a lot of success with this. Amtrak put on a great show in Portland this year having a couple of Superliners open for viewing in addition to the historic equipment. Later in the day one of the Cascades Talgo set was also supposed to be open. Fabulous! For people who’ve never ridden the train this will be a perfect opportunity for them to get the feel for what it is like.
My daughter and I had a great time taking in all the sights and sounds (4449 whistle every half hour!) . In fact my daughter came back with quite the collection of items in her goodie bag including a SP 4449 video she’s been eying for a while. We are of course looking forward to next year.
We are so spoiled in Portland. We are the home of 3 fabulous steam locomotives including arguably one of the most beautiful ever built, Southern Pacific 4449 (“The Daylight“). This year the ’49 is the sole locomotive being used to operate the Holiday Express. The annual Holiday Express is great for families, railfans, or those that just want to go for a train ride as it is a simple, relaxing 45 minute train ride through Oaks Bottom.
My daughter Haley is a big Daylight fan so I make a point to get her out so see the 4449 anytime it’s on the road. This year we headed to Sellwood to see the Sunday 10am Holiday Express departure. Instead of hanging out at the station at Oaks Park we stayed south where the train stops and reverses direction to head north. I captured a few photos there while Haley enjoyed the atmosphere of a large steam engine passing. Following the train we walked north on the Springwater Trail eventually meeting up with the train at the Oaks Bottom under pass. Returning south we eventually had one more opportunity to see and enjoy the train as it made its 11am run.
We ride next Sunday at 2pm which I’m sure will thrill Haley to no end. More importantly the ticket purchase will help with ORHF’s annual fundraiser and will help with the effort to build a permanent facility to house the 3 steam locomotives. I encourage anyone who can to buy a ticket and go for a ride if nothing else to make a contribution. Hopefully all of our contributions will incrementally get ORHF closer to their financial goals.
As a final note, I’d like to say thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, and contributors that make this happen every year. YOU make us spoiled in Portland!