Southern Pacific 4449

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Southern Pacific 4449
Southern Pacific 4449
SP4449 standing idle under steam, waiting to start Christmas excursion, December 13, 2005.
Power type Steam
Builder Lima Locomotive Works
Serial number 7817
Build date May 1941
Configuration 4-8-4
Gauge ft 8½  in (1435  mm)
Weight on drivers 275,700 lb
Total weight 475,000 lb
Cylinder size 25½ in dia × 32 in stroke
Tractive effort 64,800 lbf, 78,000 lbf with booster
Career Southern Pacific
Class GS-4
Number in class 28
Number 4449
Nicknames "The Daylight"
First run May 30, 1941
Retired October 2, 1957
Restored 1975
Disposition runs in occasional excursion service; based in Portland, Oregon

Southern Pacific 4449 is the only surviving example of Southern Pacific Railroad's (SP) GS-4 class of steam locomotives. The GS-4 is a streamlined 4-8-4 (Northern) type steam locomotive. GS stands for "Golden State" (a nickname for California, where the locomotive was operated in regular service) or "General Service." The locomotive was built by Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, for SP in May 1941; it received the red-and-orange "Daylight" paint scheme for the passenger trains of the same name which it hauled for most of its service career. 4449 was retired from revenue service in 1957 and put on static display in Oaks Park, Portland, Oregon, the following year, where it remained until 1974. It was restored to operation for use in the second American Freedom Train, which toured the 48 contiguous United States for the American Bicentennial celebrations. Since then, 4449 has been operated in excursion service throughout the continental US; its operations are currently based at the Brooklyn roundhouse in Portland where it is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers.

Revenue service years

4449 was the last engine manufactured in Southern Pacific's first order of GS-4 locomotives. 4449 was placed into service on May 30, 1941, and spent its early career assigned to the Coast Daylight, SP's premier passenger train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, but it also pulled many other of the SP's named passenger trains. After the arrival of newer GS-4s and GS-5s, 4449 was assigned to Golden State Route and Sunset Route passenger trains. One of 4449's career highlights happened on October 17, 1954, when 4449 and sister 4447 pulled a special 10 car train for the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society from Los Angeles to Owenyo, California, and return. In 1955, 4449 was painted black and silver and its side skirting (a streamlining feature of the Daylight steam engines) was removed. 4449 was then assigned to Southern Pacific's San Joaquin Valley line, occasionally pulling passenger trains such as the San Joaquin Daylight between Oakland and Bakersfield as well as fast freight and helper service. 4449 was semi-retired from service on September 24, 1956, and was kept as an emergency back-up locomotive until it was officially retired on October 2, 1957, and was placed in storage along with several other GS class engines near Southern Pacific's Bakersfield roundhouse.

Display at Oaks Park

In 1958 when most of the GS class engines had already been scrapped, a then black-and-silver painted 4449 was removed from storage and donated to the city of Portland, Oregon, on April 24, 1958, where it was placed on outdoor public display in Oaks Park. Why 4449 of all the available "Daylight" locomotives was chosen may never be known. During its time on display, 4449 was repeatedly vandalized and had many of its parts stolen, including its builder's plates and whistle, and the locomotive was quickly deteriorating due to neglect. It was evaluated for restoration in 1974 after becoming a candidate to pull the second American Freedom Train. After finding that 4449's bearings and rods were in good shape, it was chosen.

The American Freedom Train

4449 was removed from display on December 14, 1974, and restored at Burlington Northern's Hoyt Street roundhouse in Portland and returned to operation April 21, 1975, wearing a special paint scheme of red, white, and blue. As part of the American Freedom Train, the engine pulled a display train around the most of the United States. Afterwards, 4449 pulled an Amtrak special, the Preamble Express. After nearly two years on the road, 4449 was returned to storage in Portland, but this time under protective cover and not exposed to the elements.

1981 to the present

A view of 4449's pilot and smokebox while on display at Railfair '91.
A view of 4449's pilot and smokebox while on display at Railfair '91.

In 1981, 4449 was returned to its original "Daylight" colors for the first Railfair at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California. In 1984, 4449 pulled an all Daylight-painted train from Portland to New Orleans, Louisiana, to publicize the World's Fair, making it the longest steam train excursion in US history. In the late 1980s, 4449 went to Hollywood to appear in a couple movies including " Tough Guys", and pulled business trains for the Southern Pacific. 4449 had another famous moment in 1989 when 4449 and Union Pacific 844 (another famous 4-8-4 steam engine) made a side-by-side entrance into the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal in 1989 for the station's 50th anniversary celebrations; the two locomotives then raced each other on Santa Fe's and Southern Pacific's parallel main lines through Cajon Pass, with 4449 eventually taking the lead. 4449 returned to Railfair in Sacramento in 1991 and again in 1999. In 2000, 4449 was repainted black and silver for a Burlington Northern Santa Fe employee appreciation special, then was repainted into the American Freedom Train colors again in early 2002 after the events of the September 11th terrorist attacks. 4449 has since been returned to Daylight colors again, this time in its "as delivered" appearance, and often makes appearances at events in the Pacific Northwest. Future excursions are being planned, and 4449 will most likely make an appearance at the next Railfair in 2011.

Disposition and maintenance

4449 resides at Union Pacific's Brooklyn roundhouse in Portland along with several other historic steam and diesel locomotives. Although the Brooklyn roundhouse is inaccesable to the public, there are plans to build a better facility for 4449 and the other locomotives at the roundhouse.

4449 is maintained by Doyle McCormack, retired Union Pacific engineer and collector, along with many volunteers. When the engine was on display at Oaks Park, Jack Holst, a Southern Pacific employee, looked after 4449 along with two other steam locomotives, SP&S #700 and OR&N #197. Holst kept the engines' bearings and rods oiled in case they were ever to move again. Holst died in 1972 and never got to see 4449 return to operation.

Only one other true Southern Pacific GS class steam engine survives, Southern Pacific 4460, a GS-6, which is on static display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri. It was built durring World War II and never was a "Daylight" locomotive.

Another survivor is St. Louis Southwestern 819, a "GS-8", at the Arkansas Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff, Arkansas; housed in the same building where the engine was built in 1942. The 819 is currently undergoing a major rebuild/upgrading and will return once again to operation.

One "Daylight" diesel locomotive survives, Southern Pacific 6051, an EMD E9, which resides at the California State Railroad Museum and is fully operational.

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