K-Line's American Freedom Train

In 2001, K-Line announced that they were going to produce an O-gauge model of the American Freedom Train that toured the country during the 1976 Bi-centennial celebration. I recently discovered a link on the Freedom Train site that gives a great overview of the K-Line products that were created of this model.

The Freedom Train holds a special significance for me because I live in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, the home base for the SP 4449.

Ever since my son could express a preference (he's 8 now), he has always loved trains. Frankly his love for trains was one of the driving factors that led to building my own O-gauge layout. So when we read a story that the 4449 was going to be running one weekend, we made sure we were there.

At that time I knew little of the train, but was completely in awe as we stood next to it. At that time, it was painted in it's Freedom Train colors. The combination of the vivid red, white and blue paint, the sounds of steam, and the sheer size of the beast left a deep impression on us. I think it was really the first big steam engine I'd ever seen in person. I was amazed by the engineering of such a machine - how this mass of iron and steel seemed to move effortlessly along the track. While it probably maxed out at 20 mph on our excursion, all the parts working together made me really want to see it run at 60 mph.

Soon after we saw the train, the 4449 was re-painted back to it's Daylight colors. While still a beautiful train, there was something about the patriotic colors that really stuck out to me. I'm not old enough to have any romantic remembrances of the "Southern Pacific Daylight" train that many others might. Maybe that's why the patriotic red, white and blue had a more emotional impact on me. But my son, who was three at the time, still calls the 4449 the "American Freedom Train" whenever we rail-fan to events featuring the train.

One day I hope to own this engine so that my son can experience his dream of being the engineer on the American Freedom Train, and I can sit back and imagine myself being 2 1/2 inches tall, track-side and watching that baby hit 60!