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Southern Pacific 4449 Excursion to Bend, Oregon 9/16-17/2006

by Chris Guenzler

I had always wanted to ride the rails through the Deschutes River Canyon to Bend, Oregon. Being on the Coast Starlight I had always hoped that something would happen on the regular route, so that the train would run this way like it did when I got to ride the Inside Gateway down the Highline from Klamath Falls to Keddie then down the Feather River Canyon. Right before the Rare Mileage Trips back in June it was announced that the Northwest Rail Museum in Portland would run a trip using Southern Pacific 4449 from Portland to Bend on September 16th and 17th, 2006. Knowing that I wanted to ride this trip, I mailed a check. Chris Parker did the same and we were assigned a room together at the Hampton Inn. I got an Alaska Airlines ticket from Santa Ana to Portland then rooms for Friday and Sunday nights at the Days Inn on 82nd Street off the Max Line. Bob Riskie then decided to join us and he would share my room Sunday night as Chris would be flying back home. As the days neared for the trip, I studied maps and read as much as I could about the line we would be traveling.

Alaska Airlines 385 9/15/2006

After another interesting day of work at McFadden Intermediate on September 15th, I returned home to pack a few more items before my mother drove me to Orange County Airport. Having printed my boarding pass the previous night, I went shoeless through security before walking to Gate 10 to wait for my flight to Portland via Oakland. At 4:25 PM, they started boarding with me having window seat 18F on this B737-700 airplane. We backed out of Gate 10 at 4:53 PM then taxied out to the runway taking off at 5:00 PM for Oakland. I read the Alaska Airlines magazine as the plane headed north before I was served a Coca-Cola. I saw several BART trains as we descended and landed in Oakland at 6:07 PM. After a layover in Oakland, we backed out of the gate at 6:55 PM and took off for Portland at 7:03 PM. My flight music was Mark Knopfler's and Emmylou Harris' "All the Roadrunning" while I did Major League Sudoku puzzles as the night took hold before we arrived into Oregon's air space. We landed at Portland International Airport at 8:39 PM. I walked through the terminal to the MAX station where I bought a ticket to 82nd Street. The trolley left a few minutes later and I was soon checking into the Days Inn. I walked to a mini market for some snacks before returning to the motel for the night. Chris Parker's plane was delayed and did not get into the room until 12:30 AM.


Chris and I got up at 5:45 AM and at 6:00 AM, we were at Elmer's having a good breakfast. We left the keys in the room before taking MAX to Chinatown and walking over to Portland Union Station.

Southern Pacific 4449 to Bend 9/16/2006

We walked into the station finding it already filled with people, but were told which line to get into.

Passengers waited in one of three lines: Coach, Club or Dome in order to get their boarding passes for the trip. Bob Riskie then showed up with his cousin and we talked as we moved forward up the line to get our boarding passes. At 7:29 AM we got our passes with Chris and I getting seats in Car 1. At 7:30 AM, they opened the door and we walked out to board Echo Canyon, an old friend from the Grand Excursion and the 2005 Portland NRHS Convention. After claiming a pair of seats for Chris and I, we went out to get some pictures and me to get the consist.

The front end of our Southern Pacific 4449 Train to Bend.

The consist for this trip was Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449, Auxiliary Tender DLMX 4219, Amtrak P24DC 16, SP 3105 Baggage/Dorm, Union Pacific coach Echo Canyon 800725, Santa Fe Tolani 800721, Amtrak Horizon cars coach 54516, Cafe 58106, Business Class 54508, Canadian Pacific Pony Express PPCX 800320, Pennsylvania Railroad Colonial Crafts 800611, SP Overland Trail 800633, Santa Fe dome 502 Plaza Santa Fe 800362 and CB&Q CZ-10 Silver Solarium 800333.

The rear end of our Southern Pacific 4449 Train to Bend at Portland Union Station.

Amtrak's Great Dome was going to be part of our train, but in Portland, they discovered five cracks in one of the trucks and it was bad ordered. I learned on the trip that it will cost in the neighborhood of $25,000 to repair it but it might need other work. I reboarded the train and relaxed at my seat because it was nearing departure time. I walked back to the Pony Express and waited for us to leave on-time at 8:00 AM. As we left the station, there was a large group of well-wishers to see us off. I saw several photographers I knew who would be out chasing Southern Pacific 4449 for the next two days.

The Southern Pacific 4449 looked great as it took the first major curve leaving Portland.

A few minutes later, our train approached the lift span of the Willamette River bridge. We crossed the river then a few minutes later the Union Pacific joined our route at North Portland. The train then crossed the Oregon Slough on a 1,526 foot bridge and moments later crossed the Columbia River on a 2,806 foot long swing bridge to enter Washington.

The train returned to land as we curved off the bridge to make our station stop in Vancouver. In the Pony Express I met Richard Wilkins and we enjoyed conversation for quite a while. Southern Pacific 4449 ran east through Camas to the siding of Washougal where I returned to my seat as our train waited for the westbound Empire Builder. Once on the move east again, we passed through the 2,369 foot Cape Horn Tunnel and across the river, the 542 foot tall Multnomah Falls could be seen between the trees. We ran beneath the 840 foot tall Beacon Rock which is the second largest monolith in the world before running by Bonneville Dam. At MP 51.0, our train ran under the Bridge of the Gods before passing the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center which has SP&S F9A 802 on display. As we were across from Cascade Locks, I took a chance and called Lets Talk Trains, the Internet radio show airing from 10:00 AM to noon Pacific time. Richard put me on right away and I told about the Southern Pacific 4449 trip to Bend. Once that was done, I returned to the Pony Express for further views of our train and the Columbia River Gorge.

The chasers always provide a good show on any steam trip. We made a brief stop at Bingen-White Salmon to remove a passenger with a medical concern.

Anytime you can ride up the Columbia River Gorge is a treat in one's life.

Southern Pacific 4449 looked stunning running along the north bank of the Columbia River.

The waters of the Columbia River.

As we neared the Klickitat River, Richard Wilkins was on the lookout for his wife Pam who was taking a picture of our train.

BNSF was putting in a siding along the river to better handle all the trains that run through the Columbia River Gorge.

The steam train approached North Dalles and The Dalles Dam before running by Horse Thief Lake on the way to Avery.

The train was now closing in on Avery.

Southern Pacific 4449 met an eastbound freight at Avery with BNSF 4852 that would follow us across the Columbia River towards Bend.

The train neared the bridge that would take us across the river and back into Oregon.

We turned south onto the bridge and my new rail mileage started but had to stop until the lift bridge was lowered so our train could continue.

The rear of our train was still on Washington soil while we were over the waters of the river of the Columbia River.

The lift was lowered and our train started across.

We passed the junction with the northeast leg of the wye that comes onto the bridge from Wishram.

Our train left the bridge to start our trip down the Oregon Trunk.

Our train ran by OT Junction, where the Union Pacific joined our route to Bend.

The chasers were waiting here to get some more pictures before they would have to drive a long way for their next pictures.

Southern Pacific 4449 climbed towards Tunnel 1.

Our train now heading toward the Deschutes River Canyon.

Below us to the northeast was where the Deschutes River joins the waters of the Columbia River.

The train pulled into Moody where it was serviced. Here we found a BNSF inspection train.

The rear of that BNSF train at Moody.

Once servicing was completed, Southern Pacific 4449 headed south from Moody with all of us getting one last view of the Columbia River.

The Deschutes River Canyon above Moody became really interesting.

The grade that we saw on the opposite side of the river was of the former Deschutes Railroad Company, later part of the Oregon, Washington River and Navigation, then later part of the Union Pacific. It operated over this grade until March 28, 1936 when they abandoned their line for trackage rights over the Oregon Trunk. The Oregon Trunk, which was controlled by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad, became Burlington Northern in 1971 and today is part of BNSF.

A look back down the Deschutes River Canyon from where we had come from on this early afternoon.

The lighting was now so much better looking back.

I spotted a boxcar left on the former railroad grade across the river.

Southern Pacific 4449 worked hard pulling our train up the steadily-climbing grade.

Geology is one of my interests in life and was one reason I always wanted to take a trip in the Deschutes River Canyon.

There was beauty around every turn on this trip.

Southern Pacific 4449 kept climbing the grade and passed through Lockit.

Another view looking back down the grade in the Deschutes River Canyon.

The locomotive was pulling hard on every curve in the canyon and sounded fantastic as it echoed off the canyon walls.

Views of the Deschutes River Canyon.

We were now deep in the heart of the Deschutes River Canyon and it was announced that a Photo Runby would take place in about ten minutes.

The train before we arrived into Overbrook.

Southern Pacific 4449 at Overbrook backing for a Photo Runby.

Southern Pacific 4449 backing by the photo line for the Photo Runby. It backed around a corner out of sight.

The Southern Pacific 4449 did a fantastic Photo Runby at Overbrook.

One reason the photo runby was held here was we had to wait for a BNSF freight, as well as the one that was following, so both meets could be held at Overbrook.

Later we crossed the Deschutes River at Horseshoe Bend, entered a tunnel before emerging into daylight and crossing the Deschutes River a second time on Sherar's Bridge.

The Southern Pacific 4449 continued the trip south towards Sherar's Falls.

There was plenty of interesting geology in the canyon to look at.

Southern Pacific 4449 ran next to Sherar's Falls on the river a few miles north of Maupin.

Sherar's Falls has Indian fishing platforms just above the running waters. Only members of the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation are allowed to fish here.

A view looking back as our train was closing in on Maupin.

We saw many rafters who were really surprised to see a steam train running along the Deschutes River this afternoon as the train neared Maupin.

To continue the SP 4449 Trip To Bend