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Published July 08, 2009, 12:00 AM

Steam locomotive to stop in Fargo

Train arrives at 5 p.m. today, departs Thursday morning
Fargo’s rails will take a step back in the past this week when a steam locomotive rolls through town.

By: By Heidi Shaffer, INFORUM

Fargo’s rails will take a step back in the past this week when a steam locomotive rolls through town.

The Southern Pacific Daylight No. 4449 will make a stop in Fargo today and Thursday during its tour from Portland, Ore., to its final destination in Owosso, Mich., for Train Festival 2009.

The locomotive was built in 1941 to carry passengers from Portland to New Orleans. When it was built, it was one of the last trains to run on steam before the advent of the diesel locomotives that now rule the rails.

The train traveled through Fargo in 1976 as part of the U.S. Freedom Train centennial celebration, said Dave Houston, a member of the Daylight Concession team, a group of mostly train enthusiasts from Portland that privately owns and operates the train.

“It’s a real labor of love,” Houston said.

“It’s a historic piece of equipment,” he said. “Steam is long gone, and yet this is one of the handful of locomotives that has been maintained and restored.”

Today, only seven steam locomotives operate in the nation, Houston said.

The size and power of the steam engines set them apart from the modern, more-efficient diesel engines, Houston said.

“Steam locomotives were costly and hard to maintain. Cities like Fargo were put on the map because they needed to have a place to stop and be maintained,” he said.

Andy Cummings grew up with a train enthusiast father and picked up the passion as a child. Cummings, a 2003 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, now serves as associate editor of Trains Magazine in Waukesha, Wis., and looks forward to the Daylight’s stop near his city later in the summer.

“It’s really a piece of the past,” Cummings said.

Cummings remembers the first time he saw a steam locomotive, and the sights, sounds and smells still stick with him.

“I just can’t explain it. You have to see it for yourself,” he said.

If you go

- What: Southern Pacific Daylight Locomotive No. 4449’s stop in Fargo.

- When: The train arrives at 5 p.m. today and departs at 8 a.m. Thursday.

- Where: Fargo Amtrak Station

at 420 4th St. N., Fargo.

- Info: Visitors can view the steam-powered engine as it makes a day stop in Fargo. The train will make a second stop on its return trip Oct. 13.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 235-7711