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Home > Archives > Transcontinental Steam Excursion train, 1977.

Transcontinental Steam Excursion train, 1977.

Color film slide showing the Amtrak Transcontinental Steam Excursion train as it heads up the West Coast over Southern Pacific Railroad tracks on April 26, 1977.

Transcontinental Steam Excursion train, 1977.

In April 1977, a special Amtrak-sponsored Transcontinental Steam Excursion train was led by Southern Pacific steam locomotive No. 4449. Today, it is one of the only surviving examples of the streamlined GS-4 class of locomotive, a 4-8-4 Northern type of steam engine. It exited revenue service in 1958 and was donated to the city of Portland, Oregon, which put it on static display. In 1974 it was restored for operational use on the second American Freedom Train, which toured the 48 contiguous United States for the American Bicentennial celebrations.

The special train traveled 3,655 miles, stopped in 61 cities and carried approximately 9,700 passengers who often boarded for short segments. Round-end Dome Observation car no. 9310, which brought up the rear of the train, proved a popular gathering spot. According to an article in the May 15, 1977 issue of Amtrak NEWS, people came from as far as New Zealand to participate in this rare American steam railroading experience. Along the route, rail fans stopped to take photos and video of the train and record the sound of the steam locomotive.

A ticket for this excursion is also in the archives.

Image by, and courtesy of, Don Crimmin.