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IN LATE JUNE, 2003, the City of Portland opened a new stretch of bike trail, part of its "Springwater Corridor". Paralleling the former Portland Traction for three miles, the trail was opened with a celebration including excursions pulled behind the city's two operating steamers, the 4449, and the 700. Due to the rise in insurance costs, these runs would be their only excursions for the year, and so I took this opportunity to get up close with them once more. Benefits of the excursions went towards the Oregon Rail
Heritage Foundation (ORHF).
A quick primer. SP&S 700 and SP 4449, along with UP/OR&N 197, were donated by their respective railroads in the late 1950s to the City of Portland for use in a static display. Sadly, the engines were parked on a siding along the Portland Traction near Oaks Park for the next decade or so, rusting, uncared for, and slowly being consumed by blackberry vines. The 4449 was restored in the mid 1970s for use pulling the Bicentennial Freedom Train. 700 languished for another decade until she was restored to operating condition, returning to steam in 1992. The last of the three, 197, was removed from the area in the mid 1990s, and is currently undergoing restoration.
All three are currently housed in the former SP roundhouse at the Brooklyn yard. This location, however, is not a permanent one, as the owner, UP, has been planning its removal for some time. Seeing the need for a permanent location and a public museum, the various organizations formed the ORHF.
Although public excursions were a one day affair, VIP excursions were run the evening before, and a special charter for the SP&S Railway Historical Society was run the day after, early in the morning. As a result, I managed to get three days of shooting in.
For special access on these extra two days, as well as for various other kindnesses, I'd like to thank the following people: Jim Abney, Jim Vanderbeck, Terry Thompson, Greg Kamholz, and all the PRPA (SP&S 700) crew; Doyle and his gang; the ORHF staff who let me use their tent, and eventually their coolers also; Ron McCoy, Arlen Sheldrake, and the guys from PNWC-NRHS; and last but not least, Dick Samuels and Brian Sopke.
Portland area resident Alexander Craghead is a freelance writer, illustrator, and photographer, as well as the Editor and Webmaster of NWOR. A member of the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway Historical Society, he can be reached at email@example.com.