Spokane, Portland & Seattle 4-8-4 No. 700 will pull the 2014 annual “Holiday Express” excursion trains in November and December.
In the past, the Holiday Express excursion duties were shared with Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449, but that locomotive is undergoing an extensive overhaul, so No. 700 will be the sole steam locomotive pulling the trips this year.
Trips will operate from the Oaks Station at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland. They will run Nov. 28-30, Dec. 5-7, and Dec. 12-14 over the Oregon Pacific Railroad. The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation sponsors the trips. Each takes about 40-45 minutes round trip.
All trips this year will be pulled by the SP&S 700. The SP4449 is having more boiler work done than originally planned. She will return to the Holiday Express in 2015. You can visit to the Rail Heritage Center and get an up close look inside the 4449 firebox — an unusual and awesome opportunity — and see what’s being done.
The nonprofit Pacific Railroad Preservation Association operates No. 700. Originally built by Baldwin for the SP&S in 1938 to a Northern Pacific A-3 Class design, but was converted to run oil instead of coal. It remained in service until 1956. No. 700 was donated to the city of Portland in 1958 for display at Oaks Park, which also was the display site for No. 4449. After 30 years on display, the volunteers of the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association restored the locomotive to operating condition.
The SP&S 700 will be taken out of service in 2015 when it is due for its federally mandated 1,472-day inspection.
For more information on the Holiday Express go to www.orhf.org/the-holiday-express.