Christmas on the old 4449

Melina watches the world go by

Our big Christmas outing this year was a ride on the Christmas Express, the SP 4449 steam engine once owned by Southern Pacific and now by the city of Portland. (The same engine that pulled the Freedom Train across the country in 1976, celebrating the country's bicentennial.) We went with Jennifer, Jeff, and Melina, and a slew of kids with their families and railroad buffs with theirs.

Santa passing out candy canes

It was a short ride, from Oaks Park to nowhere in particular, a little ride north and a little ride south. The cars are well worn and tacky but volunteers had strung lights and hung ornaments, and Santa showed up with candy canes, and the whistle blew several times. I don't know why steam whistles sound so melancholy. Somehow a few streaky-sounding notes manage to blend sadness and wanderlust and a yearning for the past, all in a way that sends chills up my spine.

Engine 4449; the old SP Coast Daylight

You can hear those notes yourself by going to Ray's youtube video. Turn the sound up loud. The whistle starts about one minute in.

The wheels of the engine go round and round. . .