Celebrate the 60th birthday of the beloved Zooliner train.
Come to the zoo on June 9 as we throw a special party for the Zooliner train. Enjoy rides for 60 cents and learn more about the history of this fantastic train.
"The Zooliner is one of a kind," says Jeff Honeyman, who has worked with the zoo train in some capacity since 1969 or ’70. Built in 1958, it was a replica of General Motors’ Aerotrain. The Zooliner was built in Portland by the H. Hirschberger Co. and NW Marine Ironworks, though Disneyland had two similar trains called Viewliners before the Zooliner came to be. Honeyman says there’s an actual date stamp on the train to verify the birth date. H. Hirschberger Co. was the brainchild behind the concept of the Zooliner and the company built the coaches and locomotive bodies.
The Zooliner was the original zoo train. One of three trains on the Washington Park and Zoo Railway, it began service in June 1958, just a year before the zoo opened at the current location. Though when the new Portland Zoo officially opened in July 1959, the Zooliner wasn't there—it had been moved to the site of the Oregon Centennial Exposition and International Trade Fair in North Portland.
We are happy to welcome community partners such as Pacific Northwest Chapter-National Railway Historical Society and the Beaverton Modular Railroad Club to the event, which will feature a photo display of the train throughout the years and a table set up to cancel mail.
These days it's back where it belongs—at the zoo, bringing families joy every day. Join us for the party and learn more about the Zooliner, which has captured the imagination of the local community for six decades.
VIP tickets are $40 or $35 for zoo members. VIP guests will get admission, free parking in Gate A and entry to the zoo from Gate E closer to the train station. VIPs also get unlimited train rides, and throughout the day up to two people at a time can ride in the cab of the Zooliner. There will also be hand car rides, a swag bag with a copy of the stock certificate from 1958, and a roundhouse tour. This is available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Rides are 60 cents all day, but visitors arriving after 3 p.m. might not see the model railroad or meet the train historians.
Event is free with zoo admission and rides are 60 cents.