Click here for a trip to City Daily Photo, transporting you around the world every day.
February 16, 2013, inside the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and from atop a set of stairs beside the Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700 steam locomotive, I took this photo looking across at the 16-foot tall SP 4449. You see two men and a youngster intimately involved with the steam locomotive in an all-encompassing, all-important process, explained thusly at the SP 4449 Web site:
Steam locomotives still in operation in the United States must undergo a federally-mandated inspection every 15 years. SP 4449's certification expires this year, which means there are no excursions planned while volunteers take apart and inspect the locomotive.
. . . With the rebuild underway and expected to last 1-2 years, we'll also be fine-tuning and polishing up the locomotive for another 15 years of operation!
Also found on the Web site:
SP 4449 was built in 1941 as a GS-4 "Northern" type locomotive. A 4-8-4 wheel arrangement, she is 110' long, 10' wide and 16' tall. The locomotive and tender weighs 433 tons, and it operates with a boiler pressure of 300 psi. Her eight 80" diameter drivers and unique booster truck can apply 5,500 horsepower to the rails and exceed 100 mph. The only remaining operable "streamlined" steam locomotive of the Art Deco era, this grand Lady of the High Iron pulled Southern Pacific "Daylight" coaches from Los Angeles to San Francisco over the scenic Coast Route and then on to Portland until 1955. Retired to static display at Oaks Park in 1958, most thought SP 4449 would never run again.
In 1974, she was selected to pull the American Freedom Train throughout the United States, and was subsequently rebuilt. SP 4449 ran for three years to the delight of over 30 million people. She is arguably one of the most beautiful locomotives ever built -- and kept that way by the all-volunteer Friends of SP 4449!
December 1, 2012, inside the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and from the top of a set of stairs that took me up beside the cab of the , I found the SP 4449 ready to leave the building and soon take part in the Holiday Express.