A Visit to the new Rail Muesum

Southern Pacific 4449, “Daylight”

PLEASE NOTE: We apologize, but this post will have absolutely NO content regarding Interbike. Please see every other fricking bike blog if you want to read more about bike trade shows in Las Vegas.

This past weekend the brand new Oregon Rail Heritage Center opened to the public. This big hangar-like structure was built to house Portland’s three famed steam locomotives: the Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700, the Oregon Railway & Navigation 197, and of course the Southern Pacific 4449. All three are owned by us, the City of Portland. The 700 and 4449 are currently operating (meaning we are the only US city to own two operating steam locomotives. The 197 is still under restoration.

Yep, we own it!

These three locomotives have an interesting history, which is detailed here, but I will review in brief: They were donated to the city of Portland in 1958, but sat exposed to the elements at Oaks Park for over two decades. Then in 1980 all three moved for restoration to the Brooklyn Roundhouse in southeast Portland. In the past few years, the Union Pacific Railroad, current owners of the roundhouse in Brooklyn Yard, grew increasingly pissy about the presence of the locomotives, forcing the non-profit Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation to find a permanent home for the three.

The new center is a great move, as it means the public can finally view the trains beyond special events. (Because the Brooklyn Roundhouse is in an active rail yard, UP was also pissy about visitors.) This new center on SE Water Avenue near Division is across from the Oregon Museum and Industry and near the end of the line for the new Eastside Portland Streetcar. The center is also less than a mile down the street from me, how convenient!

A Lego model of Portland’s Union Station
More Lego city action, Portland’s Customs House the orange building in the center.

Ah yes, the new streetcar. Never has a new rail line in town opened with less enthusiasm. Many claim it’s a waste, only here to serve the developers and slower than buses. Bicyclists are not fond of the new streetcar tracks, eater of many a wheel and causer of bodily harm. Despite being a member of the “Eating it (quite literally) in the Tracks” club, I think the Streetcar is o.k.

A couple of Nickel Plate Road locomotives

Anyway, it was great to geek out about transportation that isn’t bikes, even for a short while. (I love trains.) Enjoy the photos, and if you want to see more, make sure you check out my flickr set of the museum.

One thought on “A Visit to the new Rail Muesum

Add yours

  1. Thank you for the post, it's not all about what we ride. Where and why and how are pretty important and infinitely more interesting. Thanks =)

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