SP 4449 is decked out for Christmas in Portland, December 2007. Photo by Noël Zia Lee. Click to enlarge.
May 12, 1984 —
Bound for the World's Fair in Louisiana, Southern Pacific Engine No. 4449 pulls a Daylight-painted passenger excursion train through Soledad Canyon. Photo by Gary Vielbaum.
Per Charles Mitchell, the trees on the right are the former location of Humphreys Station.
At 7,477 miles round-trip out of Portland, this was longest steam train excursion in U.S. history.
But it wasn't the locomotive's most memorable trip. SP 4449 was one of three engines selected to pull the American Bicentennial Freedom Train in 1975-1976. The trio of
red, white and blue-painted locomotives took turns guiding the 26-car Freedom Train through all 48 contiguous states.
Built in May 1941 by Lima (Ohio) Locomotive Works, SP 4449 is a class GS-4 (Golden State/General Service) steam locomotive with a 4-8-4 wheel configuration that was put into service May 30, 1941,
on the Coast Daylight route between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with stops in the Santa Clarita Valley. It also pulled Golden State Route and Sunset Route passenger trains.
After January 1955 when the Coast Daylight route switched to diesel engines, SP 4449 was painted black and silver and moved to the San Joaquin Valley line where it hauled the San Joaquin Daylight
between Oakland and Bakersfield and also was used for freight and as a helper. SP 4449 was semi-retired September 24, 1956, relegated to emergency back-up duty. It was officially retired October 2, 1957,
and put into storage in Bakersfield.
Six months later, on April 24, 1958, the Southern Pacific took the engine out of storage and donated it to the City of Portland, which put it on static display in a park until 1974
when it was renovated for use on the Freedom Train. Since then it has been used for excursions and special events.
See: Diebert, Timothy S., and Joseph A. Strapac, "Southern Pacific Company Steam Locomotive Compendium." Bellflower, Calif.: Shade Tree Books, 1987.
Click image to enlarge.
Restored Bicentennial Train Gears Up for Portland-to-World's Fair Haul.
The Oregonian | January 23, 1984.
The steam locomotive — SP 4449 — that pulled the Bicentennial Freedom Train more than 30,000 miles around the United States to an audience of 30 million people is going on the road again, to the World's Fair in New Orleans this spring.
This time, however, the engine will not be painted in patriotic red, white and blue, but in the distinctive orange, red, black and white that once marked the Southern Pacific Railroad's "Daylights," the streamlined, art deco general-service locomotives of the 1930s and '40s that were designed by the railroad and built by the Lima Locomotive Works.
On a 29-day haul beginning May 5, the engine will pull an entire Daylight-painted train from Portland through points in California, Arizona and Texas to the Louisiana International Exposition. It will arrive on Saturday, June 2, the City of Portland Day at the fair.
The theme of Portland's exhibit at the fair is water, and it will be aimed at industries from around the nation who need large supplies of pure water to sustain their operations.
The train's round-trip excursion will cover 7,477 miles, a drop in the bucket compared to its bicentennial travels.
The 62-foot engine, with a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement and a total loaded weight of (788,000) pounds, is being rebuilt at a cost of $250,000 at the Southern Pacific's Brooklyn Roundhouse in Portland, which is not open to the public.
Funds for the restoration came from a number of donors, including Portland, the Louisiana Exposition, Cascade Trailways, Southern Pacific and the National Railway Historical Society.
According to Southern Pacific Engineer Doyle McCormack, 40, who is supervising the project, the engine is being rebuilt to "like-new condition."
McCormack, who spent two years driving SP 4449 on its bicentennial travels, said that the firebox, boiler, running gear, pony (lead) truck, spring rigging and other parts are being totally renewed.
The rebuilding, he said, required a nationwide search for parts, which came from such varied locations as Washington, Illinois, Delaware and England.
Restoration should be done by April 1, at which time the engine will be tested in freight-hauling service between Portland and Eugene to get it running like a "Swiss watch," he said.
The Daylights, with their ultramodern "skyline casing," set a new style for the 1930s when they were first introduced. Bands of orange, red and black, accented by silver-gray trim and white lettering, swooped back across the deep side skirts over the steam chests and along the sides of the locomotive and tender, giving them a swept-back look even when standing idle.
The look won them the reputation as the most beautiful engines in the world, a label that holds today.
In 1983, SP 4449 was voted the most popular locomotive in the nation in a poll by Trains Magazine.
The engine was donated to the city of Portland on April 24, 1958, and languished for years at Oaks Park, where railroad buffs kept it from totally rusting out by faithfully oiling its bearings, hoping for the day it would roll again.
That happened in 1975 when the city, Southern Pacific and the American Freedom Train Foundation rescued it for restoration and its bicentennial travels.
There were a couple of trips afterward, and in 1979 it was taken to the roundhouse in Southeast Portland for its restoration.
Tickets for the trip to the fair will go on sale Jan. 23 through 10 local chapters of the National Railway Historical Society, which are located along the route. Stops will be made in Klamath Falls, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas before it arrives in New Orleans.
On its return to Portland in April 1977 as the Freedom Train, SP 4449 started out in Birmingham, Ala., then stopped in New Orleans to pick up members of the Pacific Northwest chapter of the society for the ride back.
LW3546: 9600 dpi jpeg from original color transparency (slide film) purchased 2019 by Leon Worden.