At its March 2019 meeting, the National Railway Historical Society awarded two grants to projects at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center on SE Water Avenue in Portland. The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (ORHF) received an $8,000 award towards the refurbishment and installation of a 100’ continuous turntable, the last remaining historic element of the former Southern Pacific Brooklyn roundhouse. It will be one of only a handful of powered operating turntables accessible to the public in the West. The Turntable Project will complete design review by fall.
The NRHS grant for the turntable will be matched by a $4,000 donation from the Murdock Trust. In December 2018, the Murdock Trust provided a cash award of $250,000, and has also pledged to match one dollar for every two additional dollars raised for the Turntable project through the end of this year. The Pacific Railroad Preservation Society (PRPA) also received $8,000 for work on the former Seattle, Portland & Spokane steam locomotive #700, originally built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1938, and the last surviving steam locomotive of its type. The SP&S #700 was donated to the City of Portland in 1958 and resides at the Rail Heritage Center. PRPA is one of the founding partners of the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation. The NRHS grant is specifically for the rebuild of two air pumps used in the locomotive braking system. The SP&S #700 is expected to be back in active service in early 2020.
“We are proud to be partnering with the NRHS in preserving these historic treasures,” said Roy Hemmingway, ORHF President.
The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation’s mission is to provide for the preservation, operation and public enjoyment of Portland’s historic locomotives, railroad equipment, and artifacts, and to educate the public about Oregon’s rich and diverse railroad history. The Foundation operates the Rail Heritage Center, a working museum housing the City of Portland’s three steam locomotives and a variety of vintage railcars in Southeast Portland near OMSI.