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The engine that could


Alice Campbell Havre Daily News [email protected]

The last steam engine manufactured by Southern Pacific is making an epic journey half-way across the country from Portland, Ore., to Owosso, Mich., for TrainFestival 2009, making stops in Havre both during the trip east and the trip west. Built in 1941 to pull passenger cars back and forth from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the SP 4449 Crew engine ceased to be used in 1957 and sat in storage or on display for years, Becky Miller, chairwoman of the Havre Tourism Committee, said. According to a press release, private funds refurbished the engine. In 1974, the engine was selected to head the American Freedom Train, the release said. Now, the only remaining operable "streamline" steam locomotive of the Art Deco era, it's returning to its original purpose of pulling passenger cars for this journey and will pull 11, including one built for Harold Sterling Vanderbilt, the New York Central No. 3, according to a press release. Other historically significant cars such as the Olympian Hiawatha, the California Zephyr and the Broadway Limited. Another car, a super dome, provides nearly 360-degree views of the passing scenery, Miller said. People can purchase tickets to travel on the train from Whitefish to Havre and from Havre to Minot, N.D., Miller said. "We are trying to set it up with Amtrak to be able to let people view the engine," Monday Miller said, adding that people can view the outside of the train "on the track right to the west of the stream engine that's down there on display (already)." While Miller said she's not sure what track the train will arrive on, people will be able to view its departure Tuesday at 8 a.m. As part of the celebration of the train's journey, free tours will be givenAt the Frank DeRosa Railroad Museum, Monday. "They have a special steam engine train run," Miller said, "as well as their HO train running." Refreshments and snacks will be served, she added. The train is headed to TrainFestival 2009, the largest in the nation, a press release said. "We have been a part of the big railroad festivals in California, and it will be interesting to see what these guys in the East can do," Doyl e McCormack, the train's caretaker, said in the release. For more information, visit www.sp4449.com or http://www.trainfestival2009. com.


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