Locomotives return; New route on track for Nov. debut

October 23, 2014 - 5:02pm

Iconic Zooliner, Centennial steam locomotive return to zoo after repairs, restoration

Folks on their daily commute along I-5 or Highway 26 this morning may have been surprised to see an old-fashioned steam locomotive zipping along in the lane next to them.

Two of the Oregon Zoo's historic locomotives made their return trip to the zoo today following repairs and refurbishing over the summer. The Old West–inspired Centennial steam locomotive and the sleek, retro-modern Zooliner were transported by flatbed trailer from Pacific Power Group's Ridgefield, Wash., headquarters.

Over the past several months, Pacific Power's engine experts tested the Centennial's pressure vessel, installed a new smoke box and replaced the steel-frame carriage on the locomotive's tender car. The Zooliner got a new diesel engine with advanced emissions-control technology. Both trains also received custom paintwork to spruce them up while retaining their historic attributes.

The zoo's trains were temporarily taken out of service last September, as crews began laying track for a new rail route designed to provide unique views of animals — as well as improved looks at ZooLights, the annual winter lights display, which opens next month.