The Oregon Rail Heritage Center is home to five organizations that share one goal: To provide for the preservation and public enjoyment of Portland’s historic locomotives and railroad equipment and artifacts, as well as to educate about Oregon’s rich and diverse railroad history.
Friends of OR&N 197
Built in 1905 by Baldwin Locomotive Works as a 4-6-2 “Pacific” type locomotive for the E. H. Harriman rail empire that later merged into the Union Pacific, she’s 79′ long and, with 200 psi boiler pressure and 76″ diameter drivers, is capable of sustained speeds of 80 mph.
This treasure of the early 20th Century era of steam locomotives arrived in Portland just in time for the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition, just 17 months before the Wright Brothers first flew at 9.8 mph, when Teddy Roosevelt was President and 3 years before Henry Ford rolled out his first Model T. She then went on to serve Portland commerce for over 50 years before retirement in the 1950s. Residing as only a display piece in Oaks Park like her sisters since 1958, in 1996 she was moved to the Brooklyn Roundhouse where she is undergoing restoration today by the all-volunteer Friends of the OR&N 197.
Pacific Railroad Preservation Association
Built in 1938 as a 4-8-4 Northern Pacific Class A design, she is close to 111′ long, 10′ wide and almost 17′ tall. With locomotive and tender weighing almost 440 tons and a boiler pressure of 260 psi, her 77″ diameter drivers can apply 5,000 horsepower to the rails and exceed 80 mph. It’s oil fired, and features design specified roller bearings throughout which was quite advanced for the era.
This beautiful example of the latter years of steam locomotive development pulled the famous Empire Builder until that train was dieselized in 1947. She continued to faithfully provide passenger service from Portland up the Columbia River Gorge to Spokane until 1956, and in 1958 the 700 was ultimately placed on permanent display at Oaks Park in SE Portland. Returned to operation in 1990, she is lovingly operated and maintained by the all-volunteer Pacific Railroad Preservation Association.
Friends of SP 4449
Built in 1941 as a 4-8-4 GS-4 locomotive, she is 110′ long, 10′ wide and 16′ tall. With locomotive and tender weighing 433 tons and a boiler pressure of 300 psi, her eight 80″ diameter drivers and unique firebox truck booster can apply 5,500 horsepower to the rails and exceed 100 mph. The only remaining operable “streamlined” steam locomotive of the Art Deco era, this grand Lady of the High Iron pulled Southern Pacific “Daylight” coaches from Los Angeles to San Francisco over the scenic Coast Route and then on to Portland until 1955.
Retired to Oaks Park in 1958 for display only, many thought 4449 would never run again. In 1974 she was completely restored specifically to pull the 1976 Bicentennial Freedom Train throughout the United States to the delight of over 30 million people. SP 4449 has also operated numerous excursions since. She is arguably one of the most beautiful locomotives ever built and kept that way by the all-volunteer Friends of SP 4449.
Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society
The PNWC was formed in 1955 as a non-profit Oregon corporation affiliated with the National Railway Historical Society. The NRHS is a non-profit organization, which was formed in 1935 for historical and educational purposes. The Pacific Northwest Chapter is one of more than 171 affiliates throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
Over 250 members contribute to the PNWC-NRHS by collecting and preserving historical data and artifacts, advocating for modern railroad transportation, and hosting rail-related events in the greater Portland area. The PNWC-NRHS supports ORHF by increasing awareness of its objectives, participating in ORHF-related fundraisers such as the Holiday Express as well as lending historical rail cars for the event.
Northwest Rail Museum
The Northwest Rail Museum is a nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of Oregon in 1986. They are dedicated to the preservation of the excitement and history of steam engines and rail travel, with a focus on the Pacific Northwest.
The excursions operated by NRM are designed to commemorate rail history events and educate the public about rail travel. Passengers on each excursion are provided with a trip guide showcasing historic and geographic features along the route.
AFFILIATED PARTNER: City of Portland – Parks & Recreation
All three steam locomotives at the ORHC are owned by the City of Portland. We are affiliated with the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau who provide care to over 10,000 acres of parks and natural areas, and offer thousands of programs for all ages at its community centers, swim pools, and other recreation facilities.