Holiday Traditions

In our family, the holiday's means enjoying a ride on the Holiday Express Train.  She's an incredible sight, the old Southern Pacific 4449 Steam Engine.

December 2011

A Portland area non-profit group called Friends of the 4449, volunteer to help set up and offer excursions from time to time, as well as, keeping her in fine condition.  My father in law and his gal volunteer with the group, so it's through them we've become introduced to this beautiful machine.

This photo I took in 2008, you can hardly tell year to year as our weather in early December is about the same.  If you look closely enough, you'll see a little blond boy at nearly 3, that is our one and only 'Brother Bear'.

December 2011, Holiday Express Train
The short, fun run, pulls out of Oaks Park and runs up and down the waterfront tracks along the Willamette River. We usually choose a ride around dusk so we can see the train in the daytime and at night with the Christmas lights decorating it.

Our kids now nearly 6 and 4 get so excited to take a ride on this train. Experiencing their joy and excitement   is intoxicating as I can't help but crack a wide smile as the horn on the steam engine blows.

Brother Bear so happy to be on the Holiday Express Train
Little Sis learned about waving to the crowd this year
The train takes a slow jaunt down the tracks and heads towards downtown Portland, Oregon. It is generally dark by the time we reach this point and I'll admit, I'm a sucker for P-town all dressed up in Christmas cheer.

Prior to my father-in-law's introduction, I'd never given any thought to these massive steam engines. But, his enthusiasm has won me over and I'll admit that it's impressive how powerful and beautifully crafted these old machines are.

The folks involved with the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation work hard to keep these trains running and to preserve the moment in time where these giants were in their glory. Steam engines like this are rare as so many of them were scraped for their metal.

If you're ever in Portland, Oregon for the holidays, consider taking a ride on the Holiday Express. It's become a holiday tradition in our family.

Cheers, Jenni


  1. My husband loves trains, so I have also acquired an enthusiasm for them. This one really does look beautiful. Your children are adorable. Great tradition.

  2. That looks so fun! I would love to ride it at night and see the Christmas lights. What a fun tradition.

  3. Hey Jenni, you must have gone on the second weekend, I think they ran the black engine the first weekend, I still have to get photos of that big boy running :(

    I usually go and take photos but as I wasn't feeling that great my Hubby went by himself this year :(

    Both he and I are train lovers but steam trains have a special place in our hearts :)

    Looks like you guys had such a wonderful time! :)

    I think we should actually ride it one time :)

    Wishing Happy Holidays to you and your family, cheers, T. :)

  4. How fun! Your kids are adorable and I bet they love this holiday tradition. I love Portland and this is a good thing to know in case we make it down around the holidays next year.

  5. Martyn is into steam trains too. He posted a bit of video of the one we saw in Wales this year.

    We have the North Yorkshire Railway near us where enthusiasts run steam trains at holiday times. They are running a Santa express for the next fortnight.

  6. Looks like fun and a great holiday tradition!

  7. my father in law loves the trains. I haven't caught the love yet though. We had a dinner train that ran from Tacoma to Renton here, but it went out of service, so I am jealous of the fun you must have each year. We'll have to try to make it down next year.

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  9. What a lovely holiday tradition to have with your children. Such fun I can imagine and something they will treasure when they are older.

  10. We went from Vancouver to Whistler on the "Sea to Sky" railway. A similar experience in some ways to yours - though it didn't have a steam locomotive. Near us here in Hampshire we have "The Watercress Line", a stretch of track on which railway enthusiasts run steam trains. We've been on that one several times! A very nostalgic day out.

  11. What a wonderful experience and tradition. A real joy to look forward to every Christmas.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a great 2012.


  12. Looks like a wonderful tradition. Here's to many more years of fun.

  13. What a great family tradition. There is so much romance attached to steam trains - glad people are preserving them in your area.


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