And Now, Something Completely Different – The Portland Zoo Train, a trip worthwhile

The Washington Park and Zoo Railway is a 30-inch (762Ai??Ai??mm) narrow gauge recreational railroad in Portland, Oregon’s Washington Park. It provides transportation between the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, International Rose Test Garden, and the World Forestry Center. The extended line is about 2Ai??Ai??miles (3.2Ai??Ai??km) long. There is also a 1-mile (1.6Ai??Ai??km) loop within the zoo grounds.

The 35-40 minute Washington Park trip runs daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. This run goes through the woods of Washington Park and the grounds of the Oregon Zoo. (Few animals are seen from the train.) The zoo station is near the zoo entrance. The Rose Garden station is a short walk from the International Rose Test Garden.

The 10-12 minute Zoo Loop trip runs in the off season, weather and business permitting, in the fall and spring. This run goes through the Oregon Zoo grounds only.

As of 2007, Washington Park and Zoo Railway has three trains in normal operation: Zooliner, 4-4-0 #1 Oregon and Oregon Express. Two of them (Zooliner and 4-4-0 #1 Oregon) are scale replicas of real trains.


Zooliner is a scale replica of the diesel-powered train Aerotrain, which is famous for its unusual shape that was influenced by automobile design. Zooliner was built in 1958. Zooliner is powered by 165Ai??Ai??horsepower (123Ai??Ai??kW) diesel engine with hydraulic transmission. The brakes are pneumatic, like on the real train.


4-4-0 #1 Oregon

4-4-0 #1 Oregon is a scale replica of a classical American 4-4-0 steam locomotive of the 19th century. It was built in 1959. It is a scale copy of 4-4-0 Reno locomotive of Nevada’s Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Unlike the original, #1 Oregon uses oil as a power source, but it is still a real steam locomotive (not a diesel that is made to look like a steam locomotive).


Oregon Express

This train is the only one that is not a copy of a real train. Originally (it was built in 1959), it was a diesel locomotive that was made to look like a steam train. It received a new look after being rebuilt in 1991. Now Oregon Express looks like a small diesel locomotive.


It carries U.S. mail and is the first recreational railroad to have its own postmark, as well as the last railroad in the United States of America to continually hand cancel and process mail. The locomotive of the Zooliner has a postal mail slot on the side of the cab, and mail boxes are located at the Zoo and Washington Park stations.

What Rail for the Valley should take note of:

The Portland zoo railway runs an intensive passenger service on a single track route, which is accomplished by the simplist of signaling and strategically placed passing loops. The Zoo Railway also carries the mails and RFV should include with their presentations, the prospect of the interurban once again, carrying mail up and down the valley.

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