Historic ‘Brooklyn Turntable’ installation completed at Rail Heritage Center

INCLUDES LIVE-ACTION VIDEO | See this, the most recent chapter in the story of this unique ‘working museum’ of Portland’s railroad history. And, learn about their ‘Holiday Express’ steam locomotive excursions starting Thanksgiving weekend …

Celebrating the official opening of the Brooklyn Yard Turntable at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, the famous Southern Pacific “Daylight” 4449 steam locomotive is moved into position.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

History was made on October 12 at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC), when the 100-foot-long steel railroad turntable — originally integral to the Brooklyn Rail Yard in inner Southeast Portland – once again rotated a steam locomotive between railroad tracks in the facility’s front yard.

Watch as the giant SP 4449 rotates on the newly-installed turntable, after speakers welcome its arrival:

Supporters, and those interested in the project, began to drift in to the ORHC to celebrate the official first operation of the 99-year-old “Brooklyn Yard Turntable”.

ORHC volunteer operator Ryan Williams is in “the pit”, checking over the Brooklyn Yard Turntable, preparing to rotate the Southern Pacific “Daylight” 4449 steam locomotive from one set of tracks to another.

He’s joyful that this day has finally come, says Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation President Rick Franklin.

“What makes this particular day special is that we’re finally celebrating the opening of the Brooklyn Yard Turntable — moved to, restored, and now installed here,” said Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (ORHF) President Rick Franklin.

“Because one of the missions of our Foundation and Center is preserving the history of railroads in the Pacific Northwest, for the education of our children – and adults as well – in the future,” Franklin told East Portland News. “It’s been five years [of planning and hard work], and thousands of volunteer hours, to turn this dream into a reality.”

To review the history of the Brooklyn Yard Turntable project, including  the beginning of its installation – with links all the way back to the ORHC’s original groundbreaking, CLICK HERE.

ORHF Executive Director Renée Devereux welcomes visitors to the commemoration.

Hundreds of folks listen to commemorative speakers at the Brooklyn Yard Turntable celebration.

During the ceremony, ORHF Executive Director Renée Devereux served as facilitator. In her remarks, she honored the memory of Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, who supported the construction of the rail history museum.

ORHF President Rick Franklin shows where the turntable was originally built and used in the Brooklyn Rail Yard.

Devereux also extolled Rick Gustafson, who she said was instrumental in the design, construction, and ongoing operations for Portland Streetcar – and managed the Brooklyn Yard Turntable project as a volunteer effort.

“[Former City of Portland Commissioner] Mike Lindberg and [legendary rail preservationist] Doyle McCormack are real heroes to me,” Rick Gustafson, told the those assembled.

Rick Gustafson describes how funds were raised and work was accomplished to move and install the Brooklyn Yard Turntable at the ORHC.

For the folks at the celebration, Gustafson detailed how the “turntable bridge” was salvaged from Southeast Portland’s Brooklyn Rail Yard, reconditioned with new bracing, trucks, and motors, and then was sandblasted and restored — before the Carnegie steel bridge, track, and pivot base span were moved into a structurally-reinforced pit in the Center’s front yard.

Moss Hacker rings the ceremonial bell before the turntable begins to turn.

Almost silently, the Brooklyn Yard Turntable revolves the 433 ton SP 4449 locomotive.

‘All aboard!’ for the OHRC’s Holiday Express

See the Brooklyn Yard Turntable for yourself, when you and yours arrive at the museum, east of OMSI, under the Grand/McLoughlin viaduct, for a ride on the annual Holiday Express steam locomotive excursions from November 24 through December 17.

Revelers will ride in heated, vintage rail cars, decorated for the Holiday season, being pulled by the 1912 “Polson #2” steam locomotive from the OHRC, along the Willamette River, through the Oaks Bottom Natural Area.

Tickets are selling vigorously this season. For tickets, departure schedule, and more information, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

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