- Member since
- From: Central New York
Posted by MJChittick
on Friday, October 12, 2012 8:09 PM
Here is the text of the applicable "Newswire" story for those of you who are not subscribers:
Portland steam locomotives gain permanent home
Published: September 24, 2012
PORTLAND, Ore – After years of dedicated volunteer efforts and significant fundraising, the Oregon Rail Heritage Center opened to the public for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 22. The center presently consists of a single building, the Doyle L McCormack Enginehouse, built to permanently house three steam locomotives owned by the City of Portland: Southern Pacific No. 4449; Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway No. 700; and Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company No. 197. According to the center's staff, more than 3,600 people visited during the grand opening day of the facility.
Prior to the opening of the center, these locomotives were stored in a roundhouse at the Union Pacific Railroad's Brooklyn Yard in southeast Portland. Although the roundhouse largely kept the locomotives out of the weather, it was an unsafe environment for visitors, and thus was closed to the public. The new center will allow visitors official access to these three locomotives for the first time.
"We could not have done it without our many volunteers," noted Phil Selinger, executive director for the Oregon Rail heritage Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates the center. Selinger noted four volunteers in particular, Laurel Lynn, ORHF founder; Kim Knox, a consultant who donated significant additional time to the project; Gordon Zimmerman, the largest financial support of the project, and Doyle McCormack, 4449 lead engineer and the man for whom the new engine house was named.
The engine house is the first structure of a planned rail museum complex located in Portland's Central Eastside Industrial District, across the Willamette River from downtown. The location is cramped, noted Selinger, but also a blessing. "We have a new streetcar stop on one side of us, and in a few years we will have MAX (light rail) on the other side." In addition, the center is located adjacent to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Also next to the museum is the north end of the 4.5 mile East Portland division of the Oregon Pacific Railroad, where the ORHF operates its Holliday Express excursion trains each December.
Although the facility is now open, the ORHF still needs to raise significant funds, in part to pay for the new structure, and to install further improvements. The total budget for the new structure was $6 million, but fundraising fell short of the mark by nearly one million dollars. To bridge the gap, the City of Portland, thanks in part to the efforts of commissioner Nick Fish, provided the ORHF with a loan. Commissioner Fish heads up the city's parks department, the entity that holds the title to the locomotives. "We still need to pay off this loan," continued Selinger. "Plus we need to install the turntable, and there's provisions for a second floor [inside the engine house] for displays and exhibits." Selinger noted that the cost of these two items will be around $2 million. Although ORHF will continue to operate its Holliday Express trains, these excursions are only expected to pay for the center's operating costs.
"We could not have done this without the [public's] broad based support," added Selinger. For more information about the new center, see the ORHF web site at www.orhf.org.