SP 4449 poised to steam in 2015

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4449Restoration
Streamlined Southern Pacific Northern 4-8-4 No. 4449 is shown eastbound, exiting Cape Horn tunnel No. 1 on the BNSF Railway, Portland, Ore., to Wishram, Wash., line in July 2011. The locomotive's caretaker says it could be back in service this year after a mandatory 15-year inspection.
Rockford Regula
PORTLAND, Ore. – Norfolk & Western No. 611 isn't the only streamlined 4-8-4 that will be hitting the rails this year. Volunteers in Portland are beginning to reassemble Southern Pacific Daylight No. 4449 and say they will fire the Northern-type locomotive for the first time in two years late this summer. The locomotive last ran on the main line in 2012 before being taken out of service for its federally mandated 15-year overhaul.

“We're making good progress and we're over the hump,” says Doyle McCormack, caretaker of the locomotive for more than 40 years.

During the last two years, the locomotive was stripped down and rebuilt from the ground up. Volunteers with Friends of the 4449, a locomotive support group, have also made and installed new superheating tubes in the boiler and done extensive work to the firebox. Volunteers will spend the next few months putting the locomotive back together and they hope to do a hydrostatic-test late this summer or early this fall. McCormack says they are optimistic they will have the engine fired up for the grand opening of TriMet's Orange Line on Sept. 12. After that, the engine will lead the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundations's annual Holiday Express trains in November and December. McCormack says it is too early to tell where the locomotive might travel next year but he is hopeful volunteers will get it out on the main line.

“I don't really want to plan an excursion until we have a locomotive to pull it,” he says.

Even though the engine will be entering its fifth decade of excursion service, the group plans on running at full steam. McCormack says the crew would even be open to another cross-country excursion, like one in 2009 to Owosso, Mich., so long as someone helps cover the groups' expenses.

Lima Locomotive Works built No. 4449 in 1941. The railroad donated the engine to the city of Portland in the late 1950s. It gained steam stardom when it was restored in the 1970s to lead the American Freedom Train and since then the engine has had a successful excursion career.

For more information about Southern Pacific No. 4449, visit the organization's website.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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