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Washington Park and Zoo Railway
Oregon Zoo
Washington Park And Zoo Railway

Portland, Oregon

May 12, 2008

Story and photographs by Richard Elgenson
RailNews Network writer

While in Portland in early May 2008, I had some time to fill.  After all, how many times could I visit Brooklyn Roundhouse?  Visiting the zoo is a great way to spend a day in Portland Oregon.  One of the highlights of my vacation in Portland was the opportunity to visit the Oregon Zoo courtesy of Jim Abney.   The zoo is MAX close from where I was staying and Washington Park has its own MAX Station, impressive in its own right.  The station is in a tunnel connected to the surface by elevators.

In establishing the Washington Park & Zoo Railway, local railroads, including some "fallen flags" did civil engineering, construction and haulage of materials.  The railway initated operations in 1958 which would make this year (2008) the 50th birthday of the Zoo Railway.  The Oregaon Zoo web site has press release regarding this anniversary.  The information is posted on the May16th entry.
The Portland Terminal R.R. Company of Oregon was established in 1882 as the Northern Pacific Terminal Company, with the name changed on November 1, 1965.  It still exists with joint ownership between UP and BNSF.
The Zooliner is replica of the General Motors Aerotrain running on 30" gauge track.  It is powered by a 165 horsepower diesel engine.
The train is nicely crafted and is well maintained.  Note the two different sides on cars; one fluted and the other smooth.
The dome car is ADA compliant. 
The railway equipment dates back to the relocation and reopening of the zoo railway  to its present site in 1959.  Many different companies and organizations contributed ideas, financial assistance and labor to build the railroad.  School children participated by selling "stock" in the railroad and a children's book was sold.  Manufacturing of the original equipment was done at cost by local firms.
The Zooliner locomotive has a mailbox in the door.
From the Oregon Zoo web site "In 1961, the Washington Park and Zoo Railway became one of the first recreation railroads to have its own cancellation stamp.  With the demise of the Railway Post Office, the zoo railway is the last operating United States railroad with its own authorized railway postal cancellation to continuously offer mail service."
"Mail deposited in mail boxes on the zoo grounds or on the locomotives is hand-canceled with the Washington Park and Zoo Railway stamp.  It has become quite a collector’s item.  Mail comes in from and goes out to all parts of the globe."

Does the WP & Z Rwy cancel mail 7 days per week?

Washington Park and Zoo Railway Page 2

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