Oregon Rail Heritage Center and SP 4449 open to the public

Southern Pacific steam locomotive No. 4449 shines at new engine house

The Oregon Rail Heritage Center opened to the public for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 22.

The 4449 pulls up to the front of the new engine house getting ready for the Opening Ceremonies of the new Doyle L McCormack Engine House. This is the new official home of Portland’s steam locomotives such as the SP 4449, SPS 700 and the OR&N 197 for all the public to finally come and view these amazing beauties up close and personal anytime of the year. Visit Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation website to find more about the new facility and how you can donate your time or money to this wonderful facility. Photo by Andrew Robb

The center presently consists of a single building, the Doyle L McCormack Enginehouse, built to permanently house three steam locomotives owned by the City of Portland: Southern Pacific No. 4449; Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway No. 700; and Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company No. 197. According to the center’s staff, more than 3,600 people visited during the grand opening day of the facility.

Although the facility is now open, the ORHF will still need to raise significant funds, in part to pay for the new structure, and to install further improvements. The total budget for the new structure was $6 million, but fundraising fell short of the mark by nearly one million dollars.

To bridge the gap, the City of Portland, thanks in part to the efforts of commissioner Nick Fish, provided the ORHF with a loan. Commissioner Fish heads up the city’s parks department, the entity that holds the title to the locomotives. “We still need to pay off this loan,” continued Selinger. “Plus we need to install the turntable, and there’s provisions for a second floor [inside the engine house] for displays and exhibits.” Selinger noted that the cost of these two items will be around $2 million.

ORHF will continue to operate its Holiday Express trains. However, these excursions are only expected to pay for the center’s operating costs.

“We could not have done it without our many volunteers,” noted Phil Selinger, executive director for the Oregon Rail heritage Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates the center. Selinger noted four volunteers in particular, Laurel Lynn, ORHF founder; Kim Knox, a consultant who donated significant additional time to the project; Gordon Zimmerman, the largest financial support of the project, and Doyle McCormack, 4449 lead engineer and the man for whom the new engine house was named.

“We could not have done this without the [public’s] broad based support,” added Selinger.

For more information about the new center, visit the ORHF web site at www.orhf.org.

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