This Space for Rent

The 50th anniversary, more or less, of the SP&S’s farewell to steam

On May 20, 1956, the SP&S carefully cleaned and polished their class E-1 #700 and put it at the head of a special train from Portland to Wishram and back as the official end of steam on the Northwest's Own Railroad. This past weekend, the Pacific Railroad Preservation Society, the (railfan) operator of the remaining bits of Portland Traction, and Oaks Park got together to commemorate this last run by running excursion trains from Oaks Park (where the 700 sat for 20-odd years after being pulled from the scrapline to match the Union Pacific's gift of their #197 [this is also how Portland got their GS-4]) down [almost] to OMSI and back.

Of course we had to ride the train. It wasn't as easy as we originally thought, because (a) somebody backed their truck into our car and (b) the bears decided that they did not want any part of those icky steam engines. But we persevered, and finally convinced them that we should ride the train this afternoon.

We showed up down at Oaks Park at about 2:00pm. No train was in sight, but the PRPA people there assured us that the 700 would be back in "10 or 15 minutes". We waited. And waited. Not 10 minutes, not 15 minutes, but 45 minutes before the 700 poked its snoot around the corner and steamed slowly up to the Oaks Park halt.

(Once we were actually on the train, the bears became much more enthusiastic about the whole trip, even though Russell had to be convinced to not ride in the cupola of the caboose this time around (we rode in the cupola on Earth Day and Gorgerail, and for the rest of us twice was enough.)

As I mentioned before, it was difficult to find a place to do the traditional 3/4ths view of the Eng!, but that didn't stop me from taking buckets of pictures and weeding out a few good ones:

Going around the curve where the 700 and the 4449 derailed when pulling a Holiday Express train last winter.

A view of the Eng! after we got off and were heading (more or less) back to our Prius.

They stopped the Eng! right on top of one of the bridges that Portland Traction put in so people could access the trails running through Oaks Bottom, so when I went under the bridge to get a 3/4'th view from the other side, the 700 was right there above me.


There were actually plans in place to have the 700 lead an excursion to Wishram on the actual weekend of the anniversary. Since that was also GorgeRail weekend, I had been working with the PRPA and SP&S Historical Society folks on making it a joint event, we even had planned to have a section of the train reserved for GorgeRail folks. Unfortunately all the right contracts never fell into place and the idea had to be scrapped…

Aaron B. Hockley Mon Jun 12 07:31:53 2006

Nice photos. We could actually hear the whistle/horn from our house in Oak Grove about 10:30 Sunday morning. [Was it a lost ship on the Willamette from the Rose Fest festivites?, I first thought.] So, we packed up and headed down to Rivervilla park and about an hour later were treated to the train going over the bridge - coming back from Lake Oswego. Quite a site!

schlockstar Mon Jun 12 20:13:32 2006

Comments are closed