Last Update:  December 19, 2009
Copyright © 2004-2009 All Rights Reserved
Webmaster  
Brian McCamish
In Search of History Expeditions
Active & Abandoned Railroads of the Northwest
Webmaster Email
In December 2009, the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation will be hosting the annual Holiday Express on the Oregon
Pacific Railroad.   This page will showcase photos of the event as well as OPR related preparations leading up to
the event.

For the latest information on the upcoming Holiday Express 2009, please visit the
ORHF 2009 Holiday Express Page.

This event is also sponsered, in part, by the Oaks Amusement Park.
Tickets were purchased through Tickets West.   
Trains were scheduled to run December 4, 5 & 6 as well as December 11, 12 & 13.  See the
ORHF page for departure times.

A number of railroad speeders were also at the event, sponsored by the OPR, to give rides to the public in between
runs of the Holiday Express Train.
Basic Event Information
Past Holiday Express Events on the OPR
Holiday Express V, 2009
Select Photos from Last Year's Holiday Express
About the Holiday Express and the Oregon Pacific Railroad
Preparations for the Event on the OPR
The OPR's mission is to provide a safe operating railroad for the Holiday Express and its passenger trains to operate on.   
The East Portland Branch is a former traction electric railroad, that was initially designed for electric trolleys and electric
freight motors and light diesel locomotives.   Over the last several years, the OPR has spent a significant amount of time and
money to upgrade the track conditions to safely handle the extremely large and heavy steam locomotives.  

This has included everything from heavier rail that was added in years past to accommodate freight traffic, as well as
extensive track work, tie replacement, grade work, track alignment, tamping and surfacing specifically for the Holiday Express
Trains.

The OPR, its employees and volunteers, check track conditions, including measuring the gauge of the track on a regular
basis and providing the needed repairs and adjustments as necessary.

For this year's event, the OPR will again be back out, checking the track, making additional alignments and making any
necessary repairs for another safe run.
The Holiday Express is an event put on by ORHF as a major annual fund raiser.  ORHF is an organization dedicated to
preserving and building a home for three large historical steam engines located in and owned by the City of Portland.  The
Spokane, Portland & Seattle No. 700, the Southern Pacific No. 4449 and the Oregon Railroad & Navigation No. 197.

Click here for more information about ORHF and its mission

Over the last four years, one or both of the major operational steam locomotives, the SP&S 700 and SP 4449, have come out
to pull passenger trains on the OPR.  Passengers park in the Oaks Amusement Park parking lot where ORHF has a facility
located nearby for passenger check in.   Passengers then board the train at the Oregon Pacific Railroad's Oaks Park Station,
located adjacent to the Oaks Amusement Park parking lot.  Trains travel along the stretch of the OPR that runs along the
Willamette River and into Oaks Bottom Refuge.     The route travelled is generally located between the Sellwood Bridge to the
south and Ross Island Bridge to the north.

Click here for more information and photos of the
Oregon Pacific East Portland Branch on which the Holiday Express travels.
The Steam Locomotives of the Holiday Express 2009
For 2009, both of the operational steam locomotives for which a home is being sought and built by ORHF will be pulling
trains.  One of the steam engines will pull one weekend, while the other will pull the following weekend.   These are the two
famous locomotives that will be attending Holiday Express 2009 on the OPR.
Spokane Portland & Seattle No. 700

The SP&S 700 was built in 1938 as a 4-8-4
Northern Pacific, Class A design, for the Spokane
Portland & Seattle Railway.   This engine typically
operated pulling the "Empire Builder" trains and  
passenger trains between Portland and Spokane
until retired in 1956.  In 1958 she was donated to
the City of Portland and placed on display at the
very same Oaks Park this event takes place from.   
In 1990, she was removed from the park and
restored by the Pacific Railroad Preservation
Association, who operates her to this day.
Southern Pacific No. 4449

The SP 4449 was built in 1941 as a 4-8-4 GS-4
locomotive for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  It is
the only remaining operational streamlined
locomotive from the "Art Deco" era.   She typically
operated between Los Angeles and San Francisco
and Portland, pulling Southern Pacific Daylight
Coaches, until 1955.   Donated to the City of
Portland, it was placed in Oaks Park in 1958.
In 1974, she was pulled from the park to operate
on the cross country 1976 Freedom Train and has
been operational ever since.
From left to right:
(1) OPR speeder volunteer William Bingman, uses a gauge detector to check the track early in the morning prior to a Holiday Express run  (2)
OPR owner Dick Samuels, sweeps out a switch after an unexpected snowfall to allow the Holiday Express Trains to continue.   (3 and 4)  The
OPR maintains a diesel fleet that usually includes a locomotive on either end of the line as a contingency for any unforseen events or breakdowns.
The above pictures were taken last year and show just some of the extensive work that was done exclusively for the Holiday Express Trains, which
included OPR owner Dick Samuels operating his tamper to tamp and align the track and the OPR crew (Tim Samuels and Brian Samuels shown
here) replacing a number of railroad ties.
Photos, Day 1 -- December 4, 2009
Video
While we do not have any video of the 2009 Holiday Express Event available, we do have a full feature movie of last year's
event now up and available for downloading.  To see what it's like first hand to ride the train and visit the Holiday Express,
check out this video!   
WMV formatt, 256 MB, 46 minutes
Holiday Express 2008 Movie
Speeders (Railroad Motor Cars)
Speeders will be on hand at Oaks Park Station to give public rides, as they always have during the Holiday Express.   
Speeders are railroad motor cars designed to operate on railroads and were commonly used by maintenance personnel to
inspect track and work on the railroads until recently.  Many speeders are now privately owned and these volunteers
graciously bring their own speeders to the Oregon Pacific Railroad during this event to give rides to passengers on the OPR
track, in between runs of the Holiday Express Train.
Photos, Day 2 -- December 5, 2009
Photos, Day 3 -- December 6, 2009
Photos, Day 4 -- December 11, 2009
Photos, Day 5 -- December 12, 2009
Photos, Day 6 -- December 13, 2009
Gauging the Rail prior to the Holiday Express
A custom built rail gauge car is used during the large steam events on the OPR, to gauge the rail to make sure it is safe to operate.    The large
and long wheel base steam engines are extremely heavy and much work was needed on the OPR line to operate these engines.   As an extra
safety measure, the track is gauged to make sure it is correctly aligned and issues are immediately repaired before the steam trains run.

Because of the extensive work, new ties and tamping done over the last 2 years, no issues were found when the track was gauged prior to the
Holiday Express weekend and on the gauge tests on each morning before the steam trains operated.    Photos show OPR Speeder Event
Coordinators Guy Howard and Kevin Novak operating the gauge car.

The lights on the gauge car indicate the following.    Green = approx. 56-1/2"   Yellow = 57" gauge.   Blue = 57-1/2" gauge.  Red = 57-7/8 gauge.