The SP 4449 resumes the annual steam locomotive tradition on Friday, Nov. 26.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Southern Pacific 4449 decked out for the Holiday Express rides.The annual Holiday Express steam locomotive rides begin again Friday, Nov. 26, after a one-year delay prompted by COVID-19 restrictions.

The round trips from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center to Oaks Park and back will be powered by the historic Southern Pacific 4449 steam locomotive, thanks to the work of the volunteers at the center in Southeast Portland. They started steaming it up on Wednesday.

The SP 4449 is a streamlined steam locomotive built in 1941 and donated to the city in 1958, after which it was restored by volunteers. It has also been used as an American Freedom Train locomotive, has appeared in several movies and for local excursions.

The center is also home to two other historic steam locomotives owned by the city of Portland. Preparing such a vintage locomotive to run is no easy task, but those who maintain them at their home near OMSI understand all the steps that it takes to get them ready.

Holiday Express trips are scheduled for Nov. 26, 27 and 28, and Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19.

Net proceeds provide for the preservation, operation and public enjoyment of the center, which houses and maintains the city's three steam locomotives and related equipment.

Some tickets are still available for the trips, which are a holiday tradition in Portland. For tickets and more information, go to

A previous Portland Tribune story about the Oregon Rail Heritage Center can be found here.

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