Locomotive 4449 gives special ride to retiring railroad man
It was hard to miss the sound of the historic steam locomotive powering through Oaks Bottom and past Oaks Park on Tuesday, May 9. It was the wrong time of year for the annual "Holiday Express" trains between the new railroad museum near OMSI and Oaks Park – and anyway, this train kept going, returning later in the day.It continued into Milwaukie, then crossed the Willamette River at Lake Oswego to continue a run into Tigard, drawing attention and turning heads along the way. The Southern Pacific 4449 rumbled across the river to honor the retiring chairman of Portland & Western Railroad's parent company.
Mortimer B. Fuller III, the President and Chairman of Genesee & Wyoming Inc., was on board the train as it headed to Tigard, where the Fuller Yard was dedicated in his honor.
Fuller became CEO, President, and Chairman in 1977 when he purchased a controlling interest in G&W's corporate predecessor, the original Genesee and Wyoming Railroad, which his great-grandfather founded in 1899. He served as CEO for 30 years and Chairman for 40 years.
The SP 4449 is one of the historic locomotives on display at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, 2250 S.E. Water Avenue, just east of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which is open to the public from 1-5 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is free.
As THE BEE reminded you in its May edition, for years, the 4449 was on display at The Oaks Amusement Park. In 1974, it was restored to operation for use in the second American Freedom Train, which toured the 48 contiguous United States for the American Bicentennial celebrations. As we reported last month, there is a plan afoot to repeat that epic trip around the country in the near future.
The locomotive continues to be maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers called Friends of SP 4449, and is used for a variety of excursions and events. According to railroad officials, the engine has be started three days prior to a run, because it takes that long to bring enough water to a boil to work up a head of steam to power the historic engine.