Opinion

From the Editor: “The 4449”


This past weekend I got the unique opportunity to not only see a massive marvel of engineering, but to actually see it in a way others don’t normally have an ability to do so.
The Southern Pacific 4449 is a GS-4 Steam Locomotive. Known unofficially as a “big boy” engine the mighty train was built in 1941 and served as the main passenger hauler around the rails of the Pacific Northwest.
What made my experience unique however was due to the fact that I had the opportunity to ride inside the engine itself. And it was really, really cool.
The 4449 has now officially retired from consistent service and instead has been repurposed into the Portland metro area’s own holiday excursion train, taking families from Oaks Park to the Tillicum Crossing and back again. All the while providing kids an exciting time getting to meet Santa Claus and enjoy the city scenery.
I had never been in the cab of a train engine before and it was exactly what I thought it might look like… pressure gauges, valves, a roaring warm fire, wooden floors and open windows. The conductor blasted it’s mighty whistle and with only a slight lurch we were moving down the track.
All in all the journey was only about half an hour long and it was a simple up and back on a single track, but for me it was a Merry Christmas, devoid of Santa this time, instead an opportunity to experience true Oregon cultural history, and to do so in style.
From the desk of the editor have a truly Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, Krampus or whatever else you wish to celebrate, and be safe, responsible and jolly as Santa fades and we all welcome in a new year.



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