Last Update:  November 17, 2011
In December 2011, 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 schedule and ticket information on the upcoming Holiday Express 2011, please visit the
ORHF 2011 Holiday Express Page.
Tickets can be purchased through Tickets West or at the event, if available.
Trains are scheduled to run December 2, 3 & 4 as well as December 9, 10 & 11.  See the
ORHF page for departure times.

A number of railroad speeders will also be at the event, sponsored by the OPR, to give rides to the public in between
runs of the Holiday Express Train.
Holiday Express 2011
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 new 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 six 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 "The Oaks" 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.

This year's event as a fund raiser is especially critical to ORHF as they prepare to build their new museum early next year near OMSI and relocate the three
steam locomotives and other equipment to the new property.   ORHF needs assistance and funding now more than ever and everyone is especially
encouraged to come out and ride the train and support their endeavour to preserve and maintain this important piece of our local history.
Stay tuned to ORHF's Offical Website for details on train schedules and which locomotive will pull the trains.   Currently, the SP&S
700 is scheduled to pull the train on the first weekend, with the SP 4449 scheduled to pull the train the second weekend.   However
this is not a guarantee and is subject to change .
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.
While we do not have any video of the 2009 or 2010 Holiday Express Events available, we do have a full feature movie of 2008'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 will be on hand at The Oaks 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 before being replaced with
hi-rail vehicles by the 1980s.  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, in between runs of the Holiday Express Train.

Normally, when the Holiday Express train heads north to East Portland, the speeders head south to 17th street and return to The Oaks Station prior to the
Holiday Express train returning.    When the Holiday Express train remains at the station on break or for servicing, speeders make a rare trip to the OPR East
Portland Yards and back.
Coming soon - will be posted as the event progresses
More photos from the 2009 event can be seen on our Holiday Express 2009 Page.
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On Saturday November 12, 2011, volunteers from ORHF and the OPR came out to clean up the route of the Holiday Express.    Photos here are courtesy of
Speeder operator Kevin Novak.   The OPR coordinated bringing out several speeders and trailers which were used to carry away the trash.   Thanks to
everyone that came out and helped to clean up the line.   This year there was less debris to clean up than in past years so it only took several hours.
Richard Samuels using the OPR Jackson Tamper to do track work on the Holiday Express route in November, 2010 prior to that year's event.
Basic Event Information
Video
About the Holiday Express and the Oregon Pacific Railroad
Preparations for the Event on the OPR
Photos, Track Clean Up -- November 12, 2011
"The Oaks" Station is a point on the Oregon Pacific Railroad's East Portland Branch where passengers board the Holiday Express Trains.   It is located across
from the famous
Oaks Amusement Park.  This station was formerly called "Oaks Park Station" and is still referred as such on most ORHF related literature and
in past event references.   However, the historical name of this station dating back to 1905 is "
The Oaks" station and it has been renamed as such in the
historical interest of the OPR and its predecessor railroads.  If there is any confusion among passengers and visitors, the two stations are one and the same,
but the station is currently marked with a new sign and all future references will be as "
THE OAKS" station.
"The Oaks" Station, formerly known as Oaks Park Station
Photos of the Holiday Express Events
Photos from past Holiday Express Events
The Steam Locomotives of the Holiday Express
Speeders (Railroad Motor Cars)
Past Holiday Express Events on the OPR
The primary contact for the OPR side of this event is Kelly Anable.   She can be reached at 503-651-2231.   Kelly, among many other duties on the OPR is
the manger and coordinator of all special events.

The back up emergency contact is
Richard Samuels who can be reached at 503-936-4139.   This is for emergencies only.   Richard is the owner of the OPR,
however, he will be extremely busy with major projects currently underway as well as coordinating day to day freight related OPR operations and it is asked
that all inquiries regarding this event be first directed to Kelly.

Another back up emergency contact is
Brian McCamish who can be reached at 503-936-2365.    Brian is a volunteer and extra board for the OPR.  He will be
reporting to and assisting Kelly as needed during the Holiday Express event.

The next back up contact is
Guy Howard.  He can be reached at 541-998-5280.   Guy is the coordinator of speeder operations during the Holiday Express,
reporting to Kelly Anable.   He will be on scene during the entire event and can usually be reached in person if none of the above can be reached.  Guy is
able to contact the proper OPR authorities in the event of an urgent or emergency situation.   Assisting Guy will be
Kevin Novak, who can also be reached in
person at the event if Guy is not available.

The OPR and all train crews will be operating on AAR channel 09/09.    This is a non-repeated channel, frequency 160.245.  
OPR Contacts and Responsible Persons and Radio Proceedures
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, resources and money to upgrade the track conditions to safely handle the extremely large and heavy
steam locomotives.  

This has included everything from heavier rail as well as extensive track work, tie replacement, grade work, track alignment, tamping and surfacing among
other work.

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, replacing additional ties, tamping and aligning the track for the event.   150 ties are being replaced with
new oak ties between the Ross Island switch and the Ross Island boat ramp crossing.

Due to the expenses, resources and time required to prepare the railroad for this event, as well as the additional liability, the OPR has had to charge a fee to
the steam locomotive operators to operate on the line.   The fee helps to cover the added costs to keep the line to a higher standard than would otherwise be
needed for only diesel freight operations.   Costs and time associated with preparing and coordinating this event beyond the expenses covered by any fees
are donated by the OPR, its employees and volunteers in the spirit of helping ORHF to achieve its goal of building and maintaining a new home for the three
historical steam locomotives.

It appears that most freight railroads in this region have banned or significantly reduced opportunities for groups like ORHF to operate over their lines.   
Reasons for this are probably due to excessive liability concerns, maintenance and the recessed economy motivating railroad companies to focus primarily on
their core business.

The OPR, as a small local family owned business, shares these same concerns and is continually under the same business pressures to focus only on its
core business and not take on additional liabilities such as the Holiday Express.   However, the OPR desires to help preserve the local railroad history as
much as is possible in this challenging economic environment.   As a result, the OPR has gone against the industry trend and currently remains one of the last
common carrier railroads in this region that allow events like the Holiday Express to occur on its line.