SP 4449

Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation




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. No. 4449 was retired from revenue service in 1957 and put into storage. In 1958 it was donated, by the railroad, to the City of Portland who then put it on static display in Oaks Park, 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 called Friends of SP 4449. In 1983, a poll of Trains magazine readers chose the 4449 as the most popular locomotive in the nation.

Revenue Years: 4449 was the last engine manufactured in Southern Pacific's first order of GS-4 (Golden State/General Service) 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. 4449 was re-assigned to the Coast Division in the early 1950s. 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, after being one of the last few Daylight steam engines in Daylight livery, 4449 was painted black and silver and its side skirting (a streamlining feature of the Daylight steam engines) was removed due to dieselization of the Coast Daylight in January of that year. 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.

On Display: 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. Since the equipment was considered obsolete, 4449 was not actively chosen for static display. It was picked simply because it was the first in the dead line and could be removed with the least number of switching moves. During its time on display, 4449 was repeatedly vandalized and had many of its parts stolen, including its builder's plates and whistle. The locomotive quickly deteriorated due to neglect. It was evaluated for restoration in 1974 after becoming a candidate to pull the American Freedom Train. Its size, power, and graceful lines made it a good fit for the Bicentennial train. After finding that 4449's bearings and rods were in good shape, it was chosen.

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 Amtrak Transcontinental Steam Excursion. After nearly two years on the road, 4449 was returned to storage in Portland, this time under protective cover and not exposed to the elements.

Present Day: In 1981, SP 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 and back, to publicize the World's Fair. The 7,477-mile (12,033 km) round trip was the longest steam train excursion in US history. In 1986, 4449 went to Hollywood to appear in Tough Guys, and pulled business trains for the Southern Pacific. No. 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. No. 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. In 2004, the locomotive was returned to Daylight colors again, this time in its "as delivered" appearance.

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Friends of SP 4449 Inc. - P.O.Box #42486 - Portland, OR 97242