Portland Section

Oregon Rail Heritage Center and Lunch

Oregon Rail Heritage Center and Lunch

Sunday, April 28, 2019 - 11:30am

It was a beautiful Sunday morning on April 28th, when about 10 members of the Portland Section joined members of the Jaguar Owners Club for a visit to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center in Portland, Oregon.


We were meeting for lunch beforehand at Mt Hood Brewing Company’s Tilikum Station, but I arrived early so I took a walk around the area which is all criss-crossed with railroads and MAX Light Rail lines, the latter of which go up and over Portland’s newest bridge, Tilikum Crossing; the perfect locale for a train museum!


The Tilikum Station building appears to be inspired by an old rail depot, and there are two rail cars turned dining rooms where you can eat wood-fired pizza and enjoy their beers and other beverages. During lunch, I discovered that Portland Section MBCA member Bill Loppnow is also a member of the Jaguar Owners Club. The event organizer, Rick Martin, is also a member of both clubs. We sat and chatted about cars and driving routes while we enjoyed some really tasty pizza.


After lunch some of us strolled around the parking lot, admiring the cars that had assembled there; a nice mix of Jaguars and Mercedes-Benz vehicles from the early 60’s through recent years.


At the Oregon Rail Heritage Center - which is only a block away from the brewery - we were able to get right up beside several locomotives from various eras. You don’t realize just how big they are until you stand right beside one or peer into its engine room. There are lots of informative signs, telling all about the history of the locomotives, and about the different styles of their boilers and engines. There are exhibits outside as well, including a caboose that you can walk through while learning about its history. I even got to stick my head up in the cupola for a view of Tilikum Crossing!


One of the most interesting and surprising things for me was the history of the Southern Pacific Locomotive No. 4449. It is the only remaining operable “streamlined” steam locomotive of the Art-Deco era. This locomotive pulled the Southern Pacific “Daylight” coaches from L.A. to Portland until 1955. By the early 1970s, No. 4449 was deteriorating on display in Oaks Amusement Park (in SE Portland). But in 1974 the old locomotive was restored and painted in red, white, and blue to be one of the three locomotives that pulled the American Freedom Train in 1975 and 1976. As I viewed the map of the US, showing the routes of the three locomotives, I realized that this was the locomotive that was pulling the Freedom Train when I saw it as a kid in Greensboro, North Carolina!

No. 4449 has now been repainted again - back to its orange and black “Daylight” design - and it’s the one that many SE Portland residents can hear every fall as it chugs and whistles its way from the Rail Center to Oaks Park as the Holiday Express. Bring the family and take a ride! Visit www.orhf.org for more info. For more event photos, use this link.