This article taken from the Canton Repository, Sept. 10, 1961,
and sent to us by the courtesy of Kenneth Ross, Waynesburg, Ohio.
There was an interesting picture in the paper but we cannot copy.
The article was originally in a Portland, Oregon paper.
It is rare, indeed, that a new railroad is established, and
rarer, still, that it makes a profit. But a new one here is doing a
brisk, profitable business.
Its name is the Portland Zoo Railway, and its trains glide and
chug through the woods and around the animal dens of the zoo.
Last year, the railroad carried a quarter of a million
passengers. This year it is doing even better.
The railway has two main trains. One, a streamliner pulled by a
Diesel locomotive, carries passengers a mile and a half through the
woods to a point overlooking the city. The other, a brass-trimmed,
pot-bellied steam locomotive with a flaring smokestack and an 1870
flavor, hauls four excursion-style cars around the edge of the
The first run over the narrow-gauge tracks was made June 8,
1958. The line has been growing steadily since with more track,
more rolling stock.
There is a trolley for Very Important People that zips along on
A fire-train – this is edge-of-the forest country – races by,
its siren screaming, its red 800-gallon tank car glinting brightly
in the sun. It was built as a gift by a timber company.
A work train that carries tools and workman for maintenance and
repairs also was a gift.
But this is a regular railroad operation, scaled down in size
for 30 in. rails instead of the standard 56. The passenger cars are
five feet wide and 40 feet long. The diesel engine weighs 6 tons,
the steam engine – with tender filled – nearly 12 tons.
The railway has a special dignity, too: A $l-a-year contract
with the United States government to carry the mail. Letters
dropped into slots in sides of the locomotive get the official
postmark, ‘Portland Zoo Railway, Orgeon.’
All of this started when Portlanders voted $4 million for a new
zoo. One of the directors, Edward Miller, an idea man and newspaper
executive, suggested a railroad as an extra attraction. The board
gave him $25,000 and told him to go ahead.
Miller enlisted John H. Jones manager of the Northern- Pacific
Terminal Co. and the two set out to build a railroad. Before they
got the first train moving some 25,000 people had contributed in
one way or another.
Youngsters in Central Oregon scooped up lava rock for the
roadbed and got a railroad and a trucking firm to haul it free. A
marine contractor turned his designer loose to help with the
Railway executives, trainmasters, clerks and road foremen of the
area’s major railroads turned up and joined local business men
on their days off in using pickaxes and shovels and mauls.
The schools sprouted stock salesmen. (One share of stock and a
ride for a dollar.)
An auction held in cooperation with the adjacent Oregon Museum
of Science and Industry sold such things as a $4,000 diamond
brooch, a Bavarian beer dinner for 75, a luncheon date with Miss
America, a dinner with the governor and his wife, an Australian
wallaby. All were donated and profits bordered on 100 per cent. The
auction is repeated each year.
Profits alone won’t do it unless growth costs are held down.
Right now directors are looking for some two-axle truck assemblies
those things that hold the wheels together – which normally cost
$3,000 and more.
They say that somewhere in the United States there must be
junked narrow-gauge cars with truck assemblies they can get for
salvage prices. Searches like this are part of of the zoo
train’s happy growth.
That is why the Portland Zoo Railway’s ledger sheet shows a
value of nearly $600,000 and a few debts.
Operationally it is doing well too.
There is an astonishing large roll of unpaid workers who keep
the trains running. Among them are a retired pharmacist, an
Interstate Commerce Commission inspector, an electrical contractor,
and naturally, a retired railroader.
Gross revenues last year were $80,209 and net profit after