Oregon Rail Heritage Center Grand Opening

September 22, 2012

On September 22, 2012, I had the distinct privilege of serving as one of the many volunteers from all of the member organizations which comprise the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, at the Grand Opening of a dream realized at last, the new Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

The Pacific Northwest Chapter, NRHS, the Friends of the 4449, the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association, the Friends of the 197, and several Portland, OR groups comprise the ORHF. For years it was known that the three steam locomotives belonging to the City of Portland would have to leave their home at the Brooklyn Roundhouse in the Union Pacific yard in Milwaukie. That day finally came, and the ORHF was ready, having constructed the new home for the locomotives.

My own participation required an 0400 wakeup and three hour drive to Portland, followed by 15 minutes of trying to find the way in to the new facility after crossing the Ross Island Bridge. Walking from the volunteer parking area on SE Caruthers Street, I found friend Arlen Sheldrake on his way in to volunteer, then friend Judy Hall. We all made our way to the new "house," named for Doyle McCormack. It was quite stunning to view for the fist time, and in great contrast to the old Brooklyn roundhouse. My place was the Gift Shop and so I met with "Daylight Dave" Houston, Todd Landwehr and Jean Hickock to learn the ropes on the cash and credit machines.

My first glimpse of the new center. That's Judy Hall and Arlen Sheldrake walking in.

The Spokane, Portland and Seattle 700 looked magnificent.

Meanwhile, out on the north side of the building, Southern Pacific 4449 was building steam pressure.

Doyle's ALCO PA, what a classic profile.

4449 now has enough pressure built to sound the whistle.

SP&S 700 and Oregon Railway and Navigation 197 ready to be viewed by the public.

Al and Jean getting ready to open the gift shop for business.

Ed, Arlen and another volunteer planning the day's activities. Don't know the girl.

A portrait of the 700.

Doyle and Laurie surveying the display.

The 197 is showing great progress toward restoration to once again run.

The 4449 just completed a "blowdown" and is up to operating pressure.

So Doyle runs her through the building.

Continuing through to the south end.

Doyle doing one of the many things he does, running the 4449.

At 10 AM the gates opened and here is a part of the early crowd. Portland citizens were interested and came out in great numbers.

More of the early crowd enjoying this great display.

A very impressive Leg-O recreation of Portland's Union Station, and a model railroad display.

Folks getting a tour of 700's cab.

The 700 cab tours were popular, as evidenced by this waiting line.

Al, Dave and Todd operating the gift shop, and business was brisk.

4449 positioned outside at the south end. A whistle "symphony" was blown every hour on the hour.

The 700's running gear.

A live Dixieland Band provided entertainment outside all day long.

At the end of the first day, it was reported that over 3,600 people had visited the Grand Opening. Portlanders really came out to participate in this historic day. The celebration continued on Sunday, though I was not a part of it. What an enjoyable experience this was, participating in something all of us had looked forward to for years, renewing aquaintances with old friend volunteers, and just being a steam railfan.

Continue to Mt. Emily Shay 2012

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