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Riding in Style From Spokane to Portland ~ October 20th, 2009

by Elizabeth Guenzler

After a very successful trip from Portland, Oregon to Owosso, Michigan for Train Festival 2009 and its participation in the four-day event, Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 had to return to Oregon. Similar to the outbound trip, day trips (as well as the full-length trip) were offered for the return. Bob and I decided to ride the last day's segment, Spokane to Portland and treat oursleves to one of the premium cars, the Cedar Rapids.

We took the Empire Builder from Seattle to Spokane on October 18th and stayed overnight at the Fairfield Marriott Inn. While I enjoyed my ride on the Builder, taking the train to or from Spokane is not my favourite way of visiting the city because of the extremely uncivilized arrival and departure times (the one o'clock hour of the morning, if the train is on time). The steam train was going to be arriving on Monday afternoon which gave us the morning to explore.

Riverfront Park with the Spokane River and the Great Northern Railway station clock tower. Riverfront Park was created for Expo '74, which was built on the grounds of the former Great Northern Railway yards.

The Great Northern Railway station clock tower.

The Burlington Northern plaque on the side of the clock. We walked over to where the Looff Carousel and gondola ride over the Spokane Falls was but unfortunately both were closed on Mondays. Disappointed, we traversed the Spokane River over the pedestrian walkways.

Upper Falls of the Spokane River.

Lower Falls of the Spokane River, looking west.

Lower Falls of the Spokane River, looking east.

The Washington Water Power Company Upper Falls Power plant building.

Rapids of the Spokane River.

The Spokane River and pedestrian bridges in Riverfront Park.

Condominiums overlooking the Spokane River. After lunch at the Davenport Hotel, we walked up to the station.

BNSF C44-9W 1102 and another lead an eastbound auto rack and general merchandise freight train through the station area.

Southern Pacific 4449 and its train of private cars arrives in Spokane forty-five minutes early.

DLMX baggage car 5659 "Gordon Zimmerman" (ex. Friends of 4449 "Better Idea", exx. Union Pacific 904227 1975, exxx. Union Pacific 24227 1969, nee Union Pacific 5659). Built 1954.

Friends of 4449 volunteers unloading souvenirs from the baggage car.

The Friends of 4449 were doing a brisk business this afternoon and we acquired some souvenirs, including our frequently-worn Daylight and 700 jackets.

GBRX Sleeper-buffet-lounge "Goombay Sunrise". PPCX 800224. (ex. Amtrak 8200 "Blue Ridge Club", exx. Chesapeake and Ohio 1923 "Blue Ridge Club", nee Chesapeake and Ohio 2500 "Blue Ridge Club"). Buit 1950. Owned by Greenbrier Leasing.

Dome-buffet-observation "Silver Solarium". PPCX 800333. (ex. Amtrak 9252, nee Chicago, Burlington and Quincy 377). Owned by Rail Journeys West.

Dome-coach "Silver Lariat". PPCX 800190. (ex. Amtrak 9452 "Silver Lariat", exx. Burlington Northern 7418 "Silver Lariat", nee Chicago, Burlington and Quincy 4718 "Silver Lariat". Built 1948.

Sleeper "Silver Rapids". PPCX 800481. (ex. Amtrak 2649, exx. Penn Central 4378, nee Pennsylvania Railroad 8449). Built 1948.

The observation end of "Silver Solarium".

North Star Rail lounge 3101. PPCX 800628. (ex. Georgia Southwestern 2003, exx. Amtrak lounge 3101, nee US Army Hospital Car 89536). Owned by North Star Rail.

Observtion car NYC 3. PPCX 800384. (ex. Conrail 1, exx. Penn Central 4, nee New York Central 3). Built in 1928 for Harold Vanderbilt, stored from 1978 to 1988, sold to the Columbus and Greenville and owned by VarChandra since 1992.

Open platform observation/business car "Caritas". PPCX 800445. Built 1948 as 14-4 sleeping car for Texas Special. (ex. VIA 2095 "Churchill Flls", exx. Canadian National 2095 "Churchill Falls", nee St. Louis-San Francisco 1450 "Pierre Laclede").

Open platform of "Caritas".

Missouri-Kansas-Texas open-platform business car 403 ex. John Marshall 1988, exx. MKT 864 1981, exxx. Allis Chalmers 1979, exxxx. Saline River and Northern 177, exxxxx. KCS 1961-1964, nee MKT 403.

The rear three cars on the westbound Southern Pacific 4449 trip from Owosso to Portland -- Cedar Rapids, Super Dome and MKT 403.

Milwaukee Road 53 "Super Dome". PPCX 800862. (ex. North Carolina Department of Transportation 400301 "Mount Mitchell", exx. Union Pacific 421 "Powder River", exxx. Chicago and North Western 421 "Powder River", exxxx. Rail Travel Associates 53, exxxxx. VIA 2701, exxxxxx. Canadian National 2701, exxxxxxx. Canadian National 2401 "Athabasca", nee Milwaukee Road 53). Built 1952.

The unique and unmistakeable end of Milwaukee Road Skytop observation car 186 "Cedar Rapids". PPCX 800040.

Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 at rest at Spokane.

Myself in front of the steam engine.

Owner and engineer Doyle McCormack tending to something during the layover.

The steam engine was serviced here.

Looking into the cab of Southern Pacific 4449.

The Milwaukee Road 261 crew had had some fun with Southern Pacific 4449 during its visit to Owosso, Michigan for Train Festival.

Canadian Pacific AC4400CW 9513 and AC4400CW 9529 lead a freight train through Spokane station area. We then left, had dinner at Perkins and returned to the hotel.

October 20th

It was an early start to the day and once we had had breakfast and checked out, we took a taxi to the station and waited with everyone else to board.

My ticket for this special train ride. The train departed Spokane on time and we were on our way.

It was a foggy start to the day but that did not stop photography as we travelled between Spokane and Pasco.

Plenty of time was spent in the observation end of the "Cedar Rapids", my favourite PV. The young boy in the black and blue striped shirt was celebrating his eighth birthday.

Myself in the lap of luxury, enjoying every moment.

The train rounding a curve on a cool autumn day as viewed from the Super Dome.

A floral arrangement on one of the tables of the Super Dome.

Making its way through rural eastern Washington.

A view of the some of the consist of the Southern Pacific 4449 special on its final leg of the return journey from Owosso, Michigan and Train Festival 2009.

High desert country between Spokane and Pasco as seen from the platform of MKT 403.

Smoke from Southern Pacific 4449 and a view of the BNSF right-of-way en route to Pasco.

Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 leading the excursion train through rural Washington countryside.

Looking ahead at the steam engine from the Super Dome.

Jean De Mott from Kalamazoo, Michigan, an acquaintance whom we had met at the Nickel Plate 765/Pere Marquette 1225 double-header in Michigan earlier in the month.

Entering Pasco for the service stop.

Approaching the Pasco Amtrak station.

BNSF yard at Pasco with ES44DC 7787, C44-9W 5252 and C44-9W 625. Once the servicing was done, we were on our way again.

The South 10th Avenue bridge across the Columbia River in Pasco, Washington.

Crossing the Columbia River.

Meeting a BNSF freight outside Pasco.

Having entered the Columbia River Gorge, our train will now parallel the Columbia River for the rest of the journey to Portland.

Rock outcroppings as seen from the train in the Wallula Gap.

A westbound BNSF coal train is spotted.

BNSF coal train, meet Southern Pacific steam engine 4449.

The steam train making its way along the Gorge, en route to Portland.

The skies have cleared and it is a perfect autumn day as passengers enjoy the view from the observation section of "Cedar Rapids".

Views along the Columbia River and an unusual rock formation.

Looking out of the windows of the Super Dome and the train traverses the Columbia River Gorge.

Southern Pacific 4449 leads its train along the Columbia River.

Gorge view.

Scenery along the Columbia River.

Rounding a bend along the route.

Autumn colours were prevalent. It was now time to walk through the train.

A Missouri-Kansas-Texas painting by John Winfield in the lounge area of MKT 403.

The drumhead on open platform observation car "NYC 3".

A steam train painting in one of the cars.

One of the antimacassars in the "Silver Lariat" with the car's emblem.

Observation end of "Silver Solarium".

California Zephyr and other pictures inside "Silver Solarium".

The famous California Zephyr photograph in "Silver Solarium".

Door to "Colonial Crafts" showing its Pennsylvania Railroad heritage.

Pictures and curtains in MKT 403.

Southern Pacific 4449 leads the westbound excursion on the final leg of its journey from Michigan back to Oregon.

Passing through Horsethief Lake.

Southeastern Washington scenery.

View of the John Day dam over the Columbia River.

The steam train curves around the track en route to Portland.

Mount Hood as seen from the excursion train.

Another curve along our route.

I never tire of the Columbia River Gorge.

A perfect day for a steam excursion.

The bridge at Wishram, Washington.

The Oregon side of the Columbia River as we approach Portland.

The Interstate 205 bridge connecting Washington to Oregon.

Crossing the Willamette River bridge.

It was thrilling to be on this bridge and be able to take a photograph like this.

The Columbia River as seen from the Willamette River bridge.

Steaming the last miles into Portland after three-and-a-half months away.

Southern Pacific 4449 leading the train home to Portland.

Passing the Portland to Spokane section of the Empire Builder as it leaves Portland.

Railfans photographing the arrival of the train.

The Union Station clock tower is welcoming Southern Pacific 4449, its crew and passengers home.

Southern Pacific 4-8-4 4449 at Portland Union Station after a very successful journey from Michigan.

Lasting memories were created this day.

Passengers and railfans gather around the steam engine while Amtrak Cascades F59PHI 466 looks on. Bob and I gathered our luggage and walked up to the Coast Benson Hotel for our night's stay. The next day we took Amtrak Cascades 500 back to Seattle and drove home.

What an incredible and memorable way to travel along a very scenic route! I was so glad I had had the opportunity ride this segment of the return trip and it was the cherry on top to conclude the Train Festival experience.