Last Update:  November 24, 2009
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Brian McCamish
In Search of History Expeditions
Active & Abandoned Railroads of the Northwest
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In December 2008, the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation hosted the 4th annual Holiday Express on the Oregon
Pacific Railroad.   This page showcases photos of the event as well as OPR related preparations leading up to the

For the latest information on the upcoming Holiday Express 2008, please visit the
ORHF 2008 Holiday Express Page.

This event is also sponsered, in part, by the Oaks Amusement Park.
The 2008 Holiday Express was pulled by the Southern Pacific 4449 Steam Locomotive.    Trains operated on the Oregon
Pacific Railroad's
East Portland Branch.   Trains departed Oaks Park Station, ran to East Portland and back to Oaks Park.

Tickets were purchased through
Tickets West.   
Trains were scheduled to run December 5, 6 & 7 as well as December 12, 13 &14.  See the
ORHF page for departure times.

A number of railroad speeders were also at the event, sponsored by the OPR, to give rides to the public in between
runs of the Holiday Express Train.
Basic Event Information
Past Holiday Express Events on the OPR
Preparations for the Event
Over the past several years, the OPR has undertaken a number of projects on the East Portland Branch to allow the heavy and long wheelbase
steam engines of the Holiday Express to run safely.  This includes upgraded track work and new ties far beyond what is required for normal
freight operations.  In addition, the OPR has built a
rail gauge tester, that can instantly check the gauge of the entire line while being pulled behind
a speeder.   This can be done before the event or as required and has been used in the past with great success.

This year, the OPR also installed hundreds of new ties between Oaks Park and the Holegate Curve in early November.

On November 7th, OPR crews operated the rail gauge detector on the Holiday Express route and found the entire route to be well within proper
gauge.  On November 8th, volunteers from ORHF and the OPR spent the day cleaning up the route of the Holiday Express.
Holiday Express IV, 2008
Testing Gauge, November 7, 2008
On November 7th, OPR owner Richard Samuels, OPR speeder coordinator Guy Howard and volunteers Rick Koehler and Brian McCamish took
the OPR gauge tester on the OPR Milwaukie branch.  In these first pictures, Mr. Samuels is transporting his new rail spiking machine from the
Milwaukie shops to Oaks Park station where it will be used to finish spiking brand new ties just north of Oaks Park.   We followed along in Guy
Howard's speeder with the rail gauge tester.
Mr. Samuels ties up the rail spiker on the Oaks Park spur, but not before giving a quick demonstration on how the spiker works.   This machine
makes spiking down the new ties far easier and much faster than the traditional method.
Testing the gauge of the line between Oaks Park and the East Portland Yard showed that there were no problems and the track was well within
proper gauge.
The gauge tester and Guy Howard's speeder inside the OPR shops.
Railroad Clean up, November 8, 2008
On November 7th, volunteers from the Friends of the 4449, PRPA, ORHF and the OPR gathered at Oaks Park and helped to clean up the route of
the Holiday Express.  Everyone braved the rained to pick up several truck loads of trash from the branch line.   Even the hikers on the trail that runs
along the route were appreciative of the efforts, with several expressing their thanks.   OPR volunteer Guy Howard brought out his speeder and
Kelly Anable of the OPR brought the OPR hy-railer out to facilitate the efforts.   Truck loads of trash were hauled off the railroad by the Hy railer and
volunteer Ed Baum and his truck.   The efforts of everyone was greatly appreciated.  Especially with the foul weather.
A visit to the Brooklyn Roundhouse showed that the 4449 is undergoing preparation for the Holiday Express runs next month.
SP 4449, November 8, 2008
The OPR has recently completed a major tie replacement project as part of this year's Holiday Express.    Well over 360 ties were replaced with
oak ties by the OPR on the straight section between Oaks Park Station and the Holegate Curve.   This tie replacement was not needed to run
freight on the line, but allows for passenger service, especially with the large steam locomotives to be conducted safely.    Over the last couple of
years, numerous ties have been replaced on the East Portland Branch, including near the Holegate curve.   This year, most of the new ties were
installed between Oaks Park Station and Holegate curve as well as the Ross Island spur switch.  The track has now been restored to FRA track
class 1 standards.
Tie Replacement Project Update, November 21, 2008
The OPR has completed numerous projects on the East Portland branch to upgrade the track for the Holiday Express and the large steam
locomotives.   Most of these projects are not needed to run regular freight with the diesel switchers.   This includes running the tamper and
realigning the track as Mr. Samuels is doing here in the last week of November, 2008.

Note, the ORHF sign for the Holiday Express is now in place at Oaks Park Station.
Track Work Update, December 1, 2008
Day One, Holiday Express - December 5th
The 4449 and the Holiday Express Train arrived on the OPR at the East Portland Yards, bright and early Friday morning.  The 4449 had to run
around the train and was switched by the OPR's No. 100 with Dick Samuels as engineer.  Doyle McCormack was operating the 4449.
Daytime shots of the Holiday Express Train on Friday, December 5th.
Nightime shots of the 4449 and Holiday Express Train on Friday, December 5th.
Day Two, Holiday Express - December 6th
Day Three, Holiday Express - December 7th
Daytime and nightime shots of the OPR sponsered speeders on Friday, December 5th.
Day and nightime shots of the 4449, Holiday Express Train and decorated OPR sponsored speeders on Saturday, December 6th.
OPR Speeder volunteers gauge the rail each morning at 8am, using the custom built OPR gauge detector car.    No problems have been found,
but if any were found, tools, parts and a crew are ready to make quick repairs before the first trains run at 10am.   Saturday, December 6th.
Day and nightime shots of the 4449 and Holiday Express Train, including the cab, on Sunday, December 7th
Day Four, Holiday Express - December 12th
When the 4449 and Holiday Express arrived at the OPR's East Portland Yard on the early morning hours of December 12th, a hopper car that was
meant to be picked by the Union Pacific the night before had to be switched out of the way.    Here, the 4449 does some rare freight switching on
the OPR.
The only way to get the 4449 and Holiday Express around the hopper was to bring in the OPR No. 100 to move the hopper into a spur.   In the left
photo, from left to right is OPR's Brian Samuels, Doyle McCormack and OPR's owner Dick Samuels.   In the middle photo, OPR's Craig Samuels
brings in the No. 100.   Far right photo, Dick Samuels and Doyle McCormack.
Day and nightime shots of the 4449 and Holiday Express Train on December 12th.
Day Five, Holiday Express - December 13th
Day Six, Holiday Express - December 14th
Day and nightime shots of the 4449 and Holiday Express Train on December 13th.
The OPR No. 100 being fired up and switching cars to prepare for the 4449 movement back to Brooklyn Yard.  Also Mr. Samuels sweeping the
switches of snow in preparation for the 4449's early departure from the OPR.
The sixth and final day of the Holiday Express was cut short due to the extreme weather.   In the early morning hours, snow began to fall in the
area and by mid morning, the snow fall became heavy enough that the roads were dangerous and chains were required city wide.  This lead the
Holiday Express crew to make the decision to cancel most runs of the day.   Because customers had showed up for the 10am and 11am runs,
the crew decided to make two runs before officially shutting down.   OPR owner, Dick Samuels, went to the East Portland Yard, fired up the No.
100 to move freight cars out of the way of the 4449 and Holiday Express afternoon movement to Brooklyn.    Mr. Samuels also had to sweep clean
and check the switches in the East Portland Yard due to the snow.    The 4449 made it's two runs and made it back to Brooklyn that afternoon.
Snow shots of the Holiday Express on it's last runs and only two runs of December 14th.
Finally, the 2008 Holiday Express Video!    WMV formatt, 256 MB, 46 minutes
Holiday Express 2008 Movie