A restored steam locomotive and train of vintage rail cars arrived in Spokane Monday afternoon with for an overnight lay over before continuing on to Portland Tuesday morning.
The historic Southern Pacific Daylight No. 4449 and train was running west from Whitefish, Mont., where it departed on today’s leg about 7:30 a.m.
“It’s performing flawlessly,” said Gus Melonas, spokesman for BNSF Railway. “It’s generating a tremendous amount of excitement.”
The railroad has received about 100 phone calls from people interested in seeing the train as it heads west.
The excursion train is returning from Train Festival 2009 in Owosso, Mich., in July and is carrying about 300 passengers.
The train will spend the night in Spokane, arriving at the Amtrak station downtown and then return to the rail yard at Havana Street just south of Trent Avenue to stand overnight. It will returning to the Amtrak station in the morning for an 8 a.m. departure on Tuesday for Portland.
It is expected to arrive in Pasco at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday.
“We encourage the public to take a look, but please keep a safe distance,” Melonas said.
The Spokane Amtrak depot is at First Avenue and Bernard Street.
Promoter Jason Johnson said the public can view the train as it moves along the BNSF main line through North Idaho, Spokane Valley and the Columbia Basin.
The train has a Global Positioning System linked to the Train Festival Web site to allow train chasers and fans to track it in real time and see it at various crossings and vistas, Johnson said.
The GPS updates are posted at trainfestival2009.com/gps.
Also, Twitter updates are available at the Web site sp4449.com.
Steam excursions over the years have drawn crowds in the Inland Northwest.
Constructed in 1941 in Lima, Ohio, by the Lima Locomotive Works, the GS-4 locomotive served on the Southern Pacific during its working years and then pulled the American Freedom Train for the national bicentennial in 1975 and 1976. It came through Spokane in 2000 as part of a BNSF excursion for employees. It is operated by longtime engineer Doyle McCormack out of Portland and Bill Stetler.
A small number of walk-on tickets should be available at the train at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Johnson said. For more information, go to the trainfestival2009.com Web site.