Salem, OR -- It's not often Downtown Salem gets a visitor quite as large or as historically significant as the Spokane, Portland & Seattle (SP&S) 700. On May 14th, this behemoth of transportation expertise will come to the Capitol city towing a vintage lounge car called the 'Plum Creek' (owned by the 'Friends of the 4449), and pulling a vintage privately owned caboose. It will make quite a sight as it backs into the siding along side Salem's Riverfront Park and A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village. On hand will be the Salem Senateaires and perhaps thousands of local railfans.
This giant engine is heavier than a Boeing 747 weighing in at a not-so-trim 879,700 pounds. It stretches its long, sleek black body over 110 feet in length. Built in 1938, it can pull over 1,000 passengers or 2,000 tons of freight. When it was built, it brought the latest technology to the Pacific Northwest. The 700 is one of 1,400 surviving steam locomotives in the United States and Canada and is the third largest operational steam locomotive in North America.
In an effort coordinated by the Salem Downtown Association, whose marketing director, Valerie Sovern, is a railroad enthusiast, the event will bring together a host of partners to offer the community an educational 'Safety Faire'. Using a grant from South Salem's WalMart store and SDA/City of Salem grant funding, Sovern has coordinated the visit of the SP&S 700 with Portland & Western management for track use. Volunteers with the PRPA (Pacific Railroad Preservation Association), the group who maintains the engine, are coordinating the train's transit, supplying the crew and expertise for the event. D.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village will play host to ODOT's Operation Lifesaver coordinated state wide by Claudia Howells. The City of Salem Fire Department will be onhand to offer safety tips. A highlight of the Fire Department efforts will be the filling of the engine's tender by their tanker and hoses.
Below is an outline of the agenda for the May 14, 2005 'Safety Faire'. While visitors will be allowed close-up views of the train, there will be no vehicle stopping or pedestrian access allowed on the highway offramp from West Salem to Front Street. Parking along Front Street will also be prohibited. Normal rail traffic on the Portland & Western line will take place during Saturday's Safety Faire. Vehicle parking will be available in both the North and South lots of Riverfront Park and also at the three Downtown Parkades.