Zoo previews future railway with new rendering

November 21, 2013 - 1:37pm

Construction steams ahead as workers lay tracks for new route

Exhibit designers released a sneak peek of the new Oregon Zoo railway this week, giving the community its first look at a route optimized for spectacular views of animals and the annual winter ZooLights display starting in late 2014.

"We're honored to operate one of the Pacific Northwest's most beloved railways, and we've designed a new route that will build upon that legacy," said Heidi Rahn, Better Zoo program director. "It will be more than just a train ride — it will be an entirely new perspective of the zoo."

"It will be an entirely new perspective of the zoo."

—Heidi Rahn, Better Zoo program manager

In late September, the zoo's popular trio of trains — the Zooliner, the Centennial Steam Train, and the Oregon Express — was temporarily put out of service as crews began laying track for the new loop. The railway is scheduled to reopen in time for ZooLights 2014.

The future route will encircle an elevated trestle in the forest north of Elephant Lands, providing unique views of the Asian elephant herd and opening a new path for the ZooLights display. Rerouting will also keep construction traffic away from visitor areas as the zoo undergoes a monumental decade-long renovation. See the summer train rendering.

"The zoo has expanded significantly since the railway opened in 1958," Rahn said. "We're very excited to write the next chapter in our 125-year history with a train that gives visitors an amazing experience and gives animals the improved habitats they deserve."

While the train won't be running for this season of ZooLights, the famous Oregon steam engine will still be decked out in holiday finery near the train station, making a festive photo backdrop.