It’s ‘all aboard’ for Holiday Express Oaks Bottom steam locomotive excursions

INCLUDES STEAM LOCOMOTIVE VIDEO | UPDATED! Schedule extended through December 30! | Act now, and you might still be able to get tickets for this unique East Portland experience for your family …

Outside the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, the newly-acquired 1912 Polson Logging Co. #2 locomotive “steams up” before a twilight excursion.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The sound of a steam locomotive’s whistle echoing up from Oaks Bottom beside the Willamette River, starting on Thanksgiving Day weekend, again signaled the start of the Holiday Express rail excursions hosted by the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (ORHF).

“This is our 18th year, and we have 79 scheduled runs over four three-day weekends, through December 17th,” ORHF publicist Carolyn  Meeker told East Portland News.

Some of the 20,000 total riders this season board the Holiday Express for their excursion.

Families find seats in the heated and decorated vintage passenger railcars.

With the Southern Pacific No. 4449 being just too heavy to run on the Oregon Pacific Railroad tracks anymore, and with the Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700 being rebuilt, this year ORHF’s newly-acquired 1912 Polson Logging Co. #2 steam locomotive pulls the Holiday Express excursion train out for runs from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC) museum.

Enthusiastic about their train ride, here’s the Eichelt family.

“Each run will feature Santa and his elves, and depart from the festively-decorated ORHC Enginehouse here on S.E. Water Avenue, just east of OMSI,” informed Meeker.

Watch and see what this steam locomotive chug away from the station with another load of happy riders in our video. UPDATE: Excursion schedule has been extended through December 30 …

Unlike summertime train trips from the Center, passengers riding the Holiday Express travel in heated vintage rail cars – decked out for the Holidays – as they journey from the heart of east Portland, along the banks of the Willamette River through the Oaks Bottom Natural Area to Oaks Park, and back again.

After switching from the siding behind the ORHC, the Polson Logging Co. #2 steam locomotive hisses and chugs as it pulls the Holiday Express passenger cars on the Oregon Pacific Railroad rail line toward Oaks Amusement Park.

Weekend daylight rides provide a unique view of the natural areas between the Center and Oaks Amusement Park. At night, riders enjoy a view of the city lights.

The Holiday Express pulls out of the station every 90 minutes – so even if you have tickets, arrive 20 minutes early! (Advance tickets are highly advised, since the rides rapidly sell out.)

As another group of riders come in, volunteer Joan Trapp offers souvenirs and T-shirts for sale.

Awaiting an evening Holiday Express run, the Polson Logging Co. #2 steam locomotive is parked on a siding at the rail heritage museum.

For more information, including excursion dates (now through December 30th) and times and ticket prices – and to purchase tickets securely online, visit their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

Comments are closed.

© 2005-2024 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.