The Holiday Train/Steam Engine Ride

Do you like trains? Do you like to ride your bike? Come join us this Saturday, December 15th as we ride from Portland’s Union Station to Oaks Park to see one of the world’s last remaining (and largest) operating steam engines – the SP4449!

(for those who don’t want to read the details, summary at bottom of post)

Built in May 1941, the Southern Pacific #4449 is possibly the most recognized and photographed steam locomotive in the world. Retired in 1958 and donated to the city of Portland, the SP4449 sat idle in Oaks park until 1974, when it was restored and used to pull the American Freedom Train during the US Bicentennial Celebration. Since that time, the SP4449 has been maintained and operated by a dedicated corps of volunteers by the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation.

We’re not planning to ride the 4449, but the ORHF is selling tickets to ride the 4449 from Oaks Park (in one of the passenger cars, NOT the locomotive) to the start of the Springwater Trail and back (a 5 mile ride). The trip lasts about 40 minutes and tickets cost $15.50 for adults and $9.00 for children. This is their premier fundraising event – ticket revenues support the continued maintenance and operation of the locomotive. If you’re interested, check out for details.

Our ride will start at Portland’s Union Station at 11am. We will hit a few historical spots where the 4449 has been before, cross the Steel Bridge along the Esplanade walkway and ride the Esplanade down to OMSI, and then follow the rail alignment until we get to Oaks Park. Depending on where the 4449 is during its trip, we may pass it along the way.

The ride is about 6 miles, and should take about an hour including stops. There are porta-potties at the end of the ride in Oaks Park. This is not a loop.

Those who are interested in taking pictures / movies of the locomotives, I and other interested individuals will be riding up and down the route pacing the train or finding locations to shoot pictures and video as it passes by.

You’re welcome to stick around past sunset – the train is lit with holiday lights and will provide an unparalleled photographic experience well past sunset. Since every trip is potentially the last (fuel and insurance costs keep going up), I will likely stay until they stop running for the evening, or at least until the last group of us decides to find a local bar & grill.

It will likely be cold, and possibly wet. Please dress to accommodate the weather, keep in mind that if you stay afterwards to photograph, you will spend part of your time standing idle in the cold. Near Oaks Park there are coffeeshops, restaurants and a New Seasons within 1/2 mile if you get hungry.

Hope to see you there!

Ride Summary

Who: People on bikes! Railfans, kids, and people who just want to see the train!
What: Ride to see the SP4449 Steam Locomotive
Where: Union Station, NW 6th and Irving
When: Saturday, December 15th at 11am
Why: Why Not? Maybe you like trains, maybe you just want an excuse to ride – come join us!

Pictures of the 4449 from her December 9th, 2007 excursion:

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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