Whenever my two year-old hears Eugene’s trusty train whistle, he poses this innocent question to me. He gazes at me expectantly with his baby blues and my heart meeeelts. I love how his developing little mind has figured out that he wants to ride a train -- as his only exposure to trains are in books, a couple of Thomas the Train toy engines, and of course, the whistle -- somehow my dear, sweet one knows in his heart of hearts that he wants to board a train with his mommy.
So I looked up the Polar Express out of Hood River. For my family of four, that would be $96 for standard seating. Not to mention the three-hour drive from Eugene. And, the reviews online are inconsistent.
That’s when I came across the Holiday Express in Southeast Portland. “The Holiday Express is a special opportunity for families to experience the bygone era of steam power,” says Ed Immel, Vice President of Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (ORHF). “It is the only holiday train ride in Oregon featuring a full-size steam locomotive.” This year, the steam engine pulling the Holiday Train is The Spokane, Portland & Seattle #700 (SP&S 700).
I personally have seen this steam engine and the immense scale of the SP&S 700 is hard to miss; it weighs 440 tons and is over 100 feet long. The drive wheels alone will dwarf all but the tallest of humans. Everyone in the family will be impressed!
For several weekends throughout November and December, the SP&S 700 will pull out of Oaks Park Station, hissing and billowing steam. As the vintage train runs on the Oregon Pacific Railroad along the Willamette River, it won’t take long for the hypnotic movement of the clickety-lack to transport riders to places once visited or imagined. The train ride also includes a Santa visit on the train and lots of Christmas goodies at the station.
The prices are nearly half the cost of The Polar Express (starting at $9.50 each)-- but of course, being the resourceful mom I am, I called and begged for a discount for our GoMomGo readers. What I discovered is that they truly are a nonprofit and that the Holiday Express is actually a fundraiser for the volunteer-run ORHF museum. Any proceeds are used to continue to restore the beautiful steam engines. They also have no difficulty selling out their trains, so whip out your calendar, pick out a date and buy your Holiday Express tickets today!
For more information and tickets, visit ORHF or TicketsWest
- Early dusk trains offer a great chance to see the train decorated with lights.
- Tickets purchased for November rides will be even more affordable.
- When you’re done with the train ride…check out some of Portland’s best, FREE, Christmas light displays! Maddax Woods in West Linn, Lights on Peacock Lane and the Stark St. Neighborhood Lights (head North on SE 111th St off SE Stark St and be sure to drive through all of the cul de sacs.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series where GoMomGo will bring you an exclusive discount on a local tree farm!
Christy Rice is a mom to two great boys. They love to explore all that Lane County has to offer. Christy is a superstar at researching & finding awesome picks & deals for GoMomGo!