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NRHS Southern Pacific Stampede Pass Trip 6/25/2011

by Chris Guenzler

After a good night's sleep, Bob, Elizabeth and I had breakfast at the house in Lynnwood before Elizabeth and I drove to Tacoma and parked in the Freighthouse Square parking structure. We walked to the Tacoma Amtrak station and received boarding pass for Car F then talked with Bart and Sarah Jennings along with Greg Molloy. Bob Riskie joined us and we talked until the train reversed in, then boarded Car F, Amfleet coach 82620.

Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 A Brief History

Southern Pacific 4449 is the only surviving example of Southern Pacific Railroad's (SP) GS-4 class of steam locomotives. The GS-4 is a streamlined 4-8-4 (Northern) type steam locomotive. GS stands for "Golden State", a nickname for California (where the locomotive was operated in regular service), or "General Service." The locomotive was built by Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, for SP in May 1941; it received the red-and-orange "Daylight" paint scheme for the passenger trains of the same name which it hauled for most of its service career. No. 4449 was retired from revenue service in 1957 and put into storage. In 1958 it was donated, by the railroad, to the City of Portland who then put it on static display in Oaks Park, where it remained until 1974. It was restored to operation for use in the second American Freedom Train, which toured the 48 contiguous United States for the American Bicentennial celebrations. Since then, 4449 has been operated in excursion service throughout the continental US; its operations are currently based at the Brooklyn roundhouse in Portland, where it is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers called Friends of SP 4449. In 1983, a poll of Trains magazine readers chose the 4449 as the most popular locomotive in the nation.

Revenue Years: 4449 was the last engine manufactured in Southern Pacific's first order of GS-4 (Golden State/General Service) locomotives. 4449 was placed into service on May 30, 1941, and spent its early career assigned to the Coast Daylight, SP's premier passenger train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, but it also pulled many other of the SP's named passenger trains. After the arrival of newer GS-4s and GS-5s, 4449 was assigned to Golden State Route and Sunset Route passenger trains. 4449 was re-assigned to the Coast Division in the early 1950s. One of 4449's career highlights happened on October 17, 1954, when 4449 and sister 4447 pulled a special 10-car train for the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society from Los Angeles to Owenyo, California, and return. In 1955, after being one of the last few Daylight steam engines in Daylight livery, 4449 was painted black and silver and its side skirting (a streamlining feature of the Daylight steam engines) was removed due to dieselization of the Coast Daylight in January of that year. 4449 was then assigned to Southern Pacific's San Joaquin Valley line, occasionally pulling passenger trains such as the San Joaquin Daylight between Oakland and Bakersfield as well as fast freight and helper service. 4449 was semi-retired from service on September 24, 1956, and was kept as an emergency back-up locomotive until it was officially retired on October 2, 1957, and was placed in storage along with several other GS-class engines near Southern Pacific's Bakersfield roundhouse.

On Display: In 1958, when most of the GS class engines had already been scrapped, a then black-and-silver painted 4449 was removed from storage and donated to the city of Portland, Oregon, on April 24, 1958, where it was placed on outdoor public display in Oaks Park. Since the equipment was considered obsolete, 4449 was not actively chosen for static display. It was picked simply because it was the first in the dead line and could be removed with the least number of switching moves. During its time on display, 4449 was repeatedly vandalized and had many of its parts stolen, including its builder's plates and whistle. The locomotive quickly deteriorated due to neglect. It was evaluated for restoration in 1974 after becoming a candidate to pull the American Freedom Train. Its size, power, and graceful lines made it a good fit for the Bicentennial train. After finding that 4449's bearings and rods were in good shape, it was chosen.

American Freedom Train: 4449 was removed from display on December 14, 1974, and restored at Burlington Northern's Hoyt Street roundhouse in Portland and returned to operation April 21, 1975, wearing a special paint scheme of red, white, and blue. As part of the American Freedom Train, the engine pulled a display train around the most of the United States. Afterwards, 4449 pulled an Amtrak special, the Amtrak Transcontinental Steam Excursion. After nearly two years on the road, 4449 was returned to storage in Portland, this time under protective cover and not exposed to the elements.

Present Day: In 1981, SP 4449 was returned to its original "Daylight" colors for the first Railfair at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California. In 1984, 4449 pulled an all Daylight-painted train from Portland to New Orleans, Louisiana and back, to publicize the World's Fair. The 7,477-mile round trip was the longest steam train excursion in US history. In 1986, 4449 went to Hollywood to appear in "Tough Guys" and pulled business trains for the Southern Pacific. No. 4449 had another famous moment in 1989 when 4449 and Union Pacific 844 (another famous 4-8-4 steam engine) made a side-by-side entrance into the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal in 1989 for the station's 50th anniversary celebrations. No. 4449 returned to Railfair in Sacramento in 1991 and again in 1999. In 2000, 4449 was repainted black and silver for a Burlington Northern Santa Fe employee appreciation special, then was repainted into the American Freedom Train colors again in early 2002 after the events of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In 2004, the locomotive was returned to Daylight colors again, this time in its "as delivered" appearance.

The Trip

The consist of our train was Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449, Auxiliary Tender DLMX 4219, Amtrak P42DC 202, baggage/concession DLMX 5659, Amfleet coaches 82540, 82720, 82510, cafe/business class 58107, Amfleet coaches 82560 and 82620, San Luis and Rio Grande full dome 511 "Nenana" 800124, Santa Fe short dome "Plaza Santa Fe" 503 800392, California Zephyr "Silver Lariat" 800190 and California Zephyr dome/observation CZ10 "Silver Solarium" 800038.

The cars were running in reverse order since they could not be turned at Easton and only the steam engine would be turned. We departed Tacoma at 9:17 AM bound for Easton.

The Tacoma Amtrak station built in 1984.

The Sounder rests for the weekend.

The Sounder's connection track to their Freighthouse Square station. The train ran through Reservation then picked up speed.

Views of the Washington countryside. Next we ran through Puyallup and the city's Sounder station at track speed before going through Meeker and past the connection to the Meeker Southern Railroad then on through the Sumner Sounder station. We continuedtowards Auburn and the two of us went to an open vestibule.

We had reached the BNSF yard in Auburn, formerly Northern Pacific.

There was a loaded BNSF coal train sitting here as we passed by the yard this morning.

Southern Pacific 4449 taking the big curve at Auburn to get onto the BNSF Stampede Subdivision, where I started onto the new mileage to Easton. We walked back to the baggage car before returning to our seats.

A pretty scene as we started up the line. A BNSF trackside detector stopped our train so our Amtrak crew had to walk the train and inspect it. I then called Let's Talk Trains and Stan Hunter stopped by to say hello. Later, we had an approach signal for Covington then ran through the forests along here before we going through Covington, crossed 216th Avenue SE and at Henrys neighbourhood were the remains of the Pacific Coast Railroad bridge on their line to Black Diamond. We then ran by the siding at Ravensdale.

A sand plant at Ravensdale.

The train continued through the dense forest with only a few openings and rounded the curve at MP 87.

The view as we neared Kanaskat and reached the CTC siding at where lumber cars are stored.


The 65 mile long Green River, a tributary of the Duwamish River. We then reached Palmer Jct where the line runs to Veazy.

The southeast leg of the wye here, which opened in 1900 and shortened the distance from Pasco to Seattle by twenty-five miles, and gave Seattle direct service from the east for the first time..

A rare clear view of one of the peaks as we were now in the City of Tacoma Watershed.

The Howard Hanson Dam which was completed in 1961 and provides Tacoma with flood control and water supply.

The Howard Hanson Reservoir as our train climbed higher into the Cascade Mountains. We would cross the Green River several times in the next few miles.

The Green River.

An open area along our route through the mountains.

Crossing the Green River on Bridge 64.

The Green River at Bridge 60 before the train reached Lester with its 7,000 foot siding. This area became the base for helper operations over the Pass once the tunnel was opened, and marks the start of a 2.2 percent grade.

We left the City of Tacoma Watershed.

Buildings at Lester. We stopped for some broken-down maintenance equipment to clear off the tracks ahead and after a few minutes, I went to the vestibule for the ride to the Stampede Pass tunnel.

Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 being serviced here.

The steam train departing Lester.

View of the mountain as we made our way east.

Bridge 58.9 and our crossing of the Green River.

The train crossed "The Viaduct", which is Bridge 56, a 1,121 foot steel viaduct, the highest on this line.

View of the climb to Stampede.

Interesting rock strata along our route.

Southern Pacific 4449 was still climbing the grade.

A snowshed ahead.

Climbing towards Tunnel 4.

We entered the snowshed, then Tunnel 4, a 830 foot bore.

View looking down off the mountains.

The end of Stampede siding,

The train entered the Stampede Pass tunnel, which is a 9,434 foot bore, the longest tunnel on this route.

Exiting the Stampede Pass tunnel.

Views to the north of our train, now east of the summit of the grade which is just inside the tunnel.

A pond on the south side of our train.

Lake Easton signals our arrival into Easton, our destination for this trip.

A Bear Car Shop plaque on Amfleet coach 82620.

Everyone detrained in Easton.

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