March 24, 2002

Railfan General Discussion
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March 24, 2002

Postby BurlingtonJohn » Sat Mar 24, 2018 10:42 pm

Continuing on last night’s theme ….

Don’t worry SP fans, I like to spin yall up as the 4449 scheme every now and then. It is all in good fun. As to what paint scheme that is appropriate for 4449, I remember talking to Doyle at the Cathedral that was the Brooklyn Roundhouse a day or two before the Bend trip in 2002. He remarked that were always opinions as to which was correct. As delivered (SP Lines), billboard (Southern Pacific on the tender), SP black, etc. People raised hell about AFT paint and/or BNSF black. To each his own. He told me how much it cost to run 4449 on the main back then. Considering insurance, fuel, car rental fees, etc., it ain’t cheap. He said that if somebody came up with money, he’d paint it pink! I harbor no ill will towards those who prefer any of the schemes listed above, just know that the AFT colors are special to me for that was how I first saw 4449 back in 1976, the first operational steam locomotive I’d ever seen in my 13 years …

Anyway, back to Bend. On the evening of the 23rd we went to dinner near our hotel (as I recall). I was lucky enough to sleep on the sofa with in a large room with other members of the crew basically sleeping where we dropped. I felt out of place as I certainly was not deserving of such accommodations with people that I admired so much.

We awoke at zero-dark thirty (US Navy term meaning it was before the sun came up) and made our way to the train at the Bend depot. Shortly after taking my spot on the “Better Idea” now known as the Gordon Zimmerman (or Gordo) 4449 backed down onto the train and we were off, bound for Portland.

Our photo run for 24th was the high bridge at Madras. I was allowed to leave my station at the souvenir stand in the Gordo and join the photo line. Some of you have heard this before, but it is worthy of repeating.

I had THE spot picked out. Camera loaded with a fresh roll of Kodachrome 64. Batteries at 100%. Clearly the railfan gods were smiling upon me. The line was perfect, clear shot. I was ready! At this point, someone tapped me on the shoulder and something to the effect “hey buddy, could you move to the right a bit?”

You can probably imagine my reaction. I was ready to rise and tear the head off whoever had the unmitigated gall to interfere with my railfan shot of the millennium. I thought surely somebody had a death wish and I was going to deliver. I turned around and saw Hotwater. My thoughts of destruction immediately evaporated (like that analogy?) and I asked him where he wanted me to be! I was only too happy to move so he could get his shot. I still laugh about it to this day!

After the runby, our return to Portland was uneventful. It was great to encounter many internet friends along the way – NYCMan, Warren Root and others. We had fun standing in the open baggage doors, just listening to the symphony that is 4449.

The return trip was a little bit different, though. Trackside crowds were out in force, saluting the 4449 in her AFT colors. I remember crawling along at a slow speed when a gentleman stood there with a large American flag, waving. As an active duty US Navy Sailor at the time, I came to attention and rendered a proper hand salute. This was repeated several times along the way. You had to have been there to understand the feeling, the emotion. To say that I am indebted to the 4449 crew would be an understatement. This CB&Q fan will always be in your corner. Always.

Fast forward to today. 4449 is safe from the elements (returned to her as delivered SP colors and yes, I am okay with that!!!) along with several friends at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center in a structure that is appropriately named the Doyle McCormack Enginehouse. I don’t know when 4449 will again grace the high iron again, but here is hoping it is soon. If anything, the Friends of SP 4449 have shown us the value of patience over the years and if anyone can do it, they can.

All aboard America, here comes the Freedom Train!!!

Burlington John

John Bohon
Posts: 387
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: March 24, 2002

Postby John Bohon » Sun Mar 25, 2018 2:06 pm

The Freedom Train was a special experience. Truthfully, if you did not experience the train you can not understand its appeal. I was fortunate enough to work a couple of days on 2101 and ride the train on one occasion. Riding the train in the middle of the night with the headlight lighting up the track in front of the train and the lights on the cars lighting the river and mountains around you like it was daylight is not to be forgotten. There certainly will never be anything like it again in this country in my lifetime and I doubt there ever will. Having never seen 4449 and not one who particularly likes streamlined engines I do not find the daylights all that attractive. If I were to choose a favorite paint scheme on 4449 it would be either AFT or black. Did I mention I am not a big fan of the color orange either? Performance is another thing. The daylights are fine machines to say the least.

John Bohon

Mark D
Posts: 3224
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: March 24, 2002

Postby Mark D » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:07 am

That was long before my time with regard to railroading, so I never got near the Freedom train/s. But I've read all about it and how many different locomotives pulled the train... I would have loved to see it when it visited Minnesota, but didn't have a clue about it being here. I learned about it sometime around 2002 or so.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

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