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Some grant money is on its way to Southeast's Rail Heritage Center museum, for its projects

DAVID F. ASHTON - These massive rollers, gears, and motors will support, engage, and drive the railroad turntable formerly in use in the Brooklyn Railyard, says OHRF Executive Director Greg Fitzgerald. Two projects at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center (OHRC) – installing a railroad turntable, and refurbishing a steam locomotive – will soon get underway, thanks to grants received by the Center's foundation.

That's what Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (OHRF) Executive Director Greg Fitzgerald revealed during an April visit.

"ORHF received an $8,000 award from the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) toward the restoration and installation of a 102-foot continuous turntable, the last remaining historic element of the former Southern Pacific Brooklyn roundhouse," Fitzgerald told THE BEE.

The NRHS grant for the turntable is matched by a $4,000 donation from the Murdock Trust. "In December 2018, the Murdock Trust provided a cash award of $250,000, and has also pledged to match one dollar for every two additional dollars raised for the Turntable Project through the end of this year," Fitzgerald said.

The Turntable Project will complete the Design Review process by summer.

And, the Pacific Railroad Preservation Society (PRPA), a non-profit, all-volunteer organization collocated at the Rail Heritage Center that's dedicated to restoring, maintaining, and operating the former Seattle, Portland & Spokane steam locomotive #700, housed at the rail center, also received $8,000 from the NRHS.

This grant was given to help the PRPA crew finance the rebuilding of two air pumps used in the #700's locomotive braking system.

"I'm currently working on the SP&S #700 air pump overhaul project," said ORHF Treasurer Dale Birkholz. "Most all the parts for all of our locomotives and rail cars here can't be purchased; we must make them here in our machine shop, using post-World War II, heavy-duty machines."

The SP&S #700 is expected to be back in active service early next year, resulting again in two operating historic steam locomotives, the other being the famous Southern Pacific 4449, which ceremonially toured the country in 1976. Those and one more which still has yet to be rehabilitated are owned by the City of Portland.

The Oregon Rail Heritage Center, at 2250 S.E. Water Street (under the MLK/Grand Avenue Viaduct) is open to the public Thursdays through Sunday afternoons; and it's free to visit. They also run rail excursions on Saturdays. For more information, go online – www.orhf.org

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