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NRHS Southern Pacific 4449 Tacoma to Portland 6/26/2011

by Chris Guenzler

My last morning in Lynnwood I got up early, checked the e-Mail and then had a good breakfast. Bob and Elizabeth then drove me down to the Tacoma Amtrak Station and I picked up my boarding pass for the SP 4449 trip to Portland, my final 2011 NRHS Tacoma Convention Event. I met Bob Riskie to give him my extra route guide from the trip on Tuesday. After socializing on the platform, I set up to catch the SP 4449 pulling the train into the station.

SP 4449 came into the Tacoma Amtrak Station and I boarded the Amfleet Coach 82720.

In 1941 the Southern Pacific took delivery of engine 4449 from the Lima Locomotive Works pulling the World Famous Coast Daylight between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The 4449 pulled the final steam powered "Daylight" train on January 7, 1947. The 4449 saw commuter service during World War Two before running in freight service to end its service career on October 2, 1957 in Bakersfield, CA. The SP 4449 was donated to the City of Portland and placed in Oaks Park for the nearly two decades. On December 14, 1974 the SP 4449 was selected to pull the American Freedom Train in the western, midwest and southern parts of our nation during the American Bicentennial. On April 21, 1975 the 4449 was steamed up for the first time in 17 years and on May 8 made its first test run to Skamania, Washington with a trip to Wishram a week later on the 14th. On June 20 the 4449 left Portland to join the American Freedom Train. On December 20, 1976 the 4449 completed an 18-month, 35,000-mile trip in Florida operating over 27 different railroads in its journey. The 4449 ran a few Southern Railway Steam Fan Trips while in Birmingham waiting to return to Portland. On April 13, 1977 the 4449 left Birmingham on an Amtrak Steam Excursion home to Portland arriving there on May 1, 1977. It was repainted into SP Daylight colors for its trip to Railfair 1981 and a side trip to Los Angeles for Bicentennial Celebration there. In 1984 it pulled a round trip Portland to New Orleans called the World Fair Daylight. This 7,171-mile excursion was the longest in United States History. I rode the two day Phoenix to Los Angeles segment. The 4449 in 1986 ran to Los Angeles and the Eagle Mountain Railroad for the making of the movie "Tough Guys". In 1989 the 4449 return to Los Angeles for their 50th Anniversary of Los Angeles Union Station that included the side by side running with the UP 8444 into LAUPT. The 4449 ran to Railfair 1991, in 1992 it ran to San Jose for the NRHS Convention there, and 1999 it ran other excursions throughout the Pacific Northwest. The engine was painted black for the BNSF Shippers Special over their railroad. After 9/11 the 4449 was repainted into the colors it wore during its Freedom Train Days. In 2004 the SP 4449 was repainted back once more into "Daylight" colors. In 2005 at the Portland, Oregon "Go by Train NRHS Convention" she double headed to Wishram with the SP&S 700. In 2009 the SP 4449 went from Portland, Oregon to Owosso, Michigan for Train Festival 2009. The Tacoma NRHS Convention will be the SP 4449 4th NRHS Convention she has been at since her return to service.

The Trip

The train had a consist of the Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449, Auxiliary Tender DLMX 4219, Amtrak Engine 202, Baggage/Concession DLMX 5659, Amfleet Coaches 82540, 82720, 82510, Cafe/Business Class 58107, Amfleet Coaches 82560 and 82620, Full Dome Nenana SLRG 511 800124, Short Dome Santa Fe Plaza Santa Fe 503 800392, California Zephyr Silver Lariat 800190 and Dome/Observation California Zephyr CZ10 Silver Solarium 800038.

The train left Tacoma at 8:44 AM for Portland. I went to the vestibule for my best lit pictures of the day.

A Canadian National Unit 2520 at the BNSF engine facility in Tacoma. The train then made the big Tacoma turn to leave town.

The SP 4449 put on a good show leaving Tacoma this morning.

Commencement Bay.

Soon we started our run along the Puget Sound. The train reached Ruston then went onto single track first through the short tunnel then the longer Nelson Bennett Tunnel.

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Bald Eagles following our train along the Puget Sound.

Puget Sound.

SP 4449 rolls along the Puget Sound.

Puget Sound.

The SP 4449 nearly has finished its run along the Puget Sound and turned south heading to point south this morning.

Mt. Rainier. The train next rolled through the Amtrak Station at Olympia/Lacey.

Mt. St. Helens before running on down to Centralia where we stopped. They had to get a radio from the baggage car up to the SP 4449 which was having radio problems since we left Tacoma. We made a nine minute stop then headed south through Chehalis. The train started the climbed up Vader Hill and then down the other side running a track speed. The train ran through the tunnel then ran by the Kelso/Longview Amtrak Station. I relaxed the rest of the way to Vancouver where some passengers got off of our train to head back to Tacoma earlier than taking the Coast Starlight later today.

The SP 4449 passing the approach signal for Vancouver.

The SP 4449 crossed over at Vancouver.

The SP 4449 at Vancouver before crossing the Columbia River into Oregon.

The SP 4449 had crossed the Willamette River and made the big turn south heading to Portland Union Station.

We arrived there at 12:06 PM ending a great trip aboard the NRHS 4449 Tacoma to Portland final convention trip.