Union Pacific Railroad’s No. 844, the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific, has brought many people trackside along Colorado’s Front Range as the locomotive made its way from Cheyenne to Denver and back, to celebrate railroad history and heritage during the Democratic National Convention (Aug. 25-28).
“We are proud to have No. 844 on display during the convention because of our historical connection to the campaign trail,” said Bob Turner, Union Pacific’s senior vice president – Corporate Relations. “Long before candidates traveled via planes or automobiles, rail offered candidates a way to deliver themselves and their platforms to far-flung voters from one end of this country to the other.”
Before there was the highway system we know today or passenger air service, Presidential candidates would ride the rails and make frequent short stops – or “whistle-stops” – in the many communities along the rail line. The candidates would “stump” for votes by making speeches from the back of the last car on their train. Union Pacific hosted Presidential campaign whistle-stop tours across its system over the years including those for Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
Heading to and from Denver, No. 844 will operate over a rail line that was built in 1870 by the Denver Pacific Railway & Telegraph Co. The track at Union Station also was built in 1870, by the Kansas Pacific Railway.
No. 844, also known as Union Pacific’s “Living Legend,” was returned to service in 2006 after one of the most extensive steam locomotive overhauls in the United States since the 1950s.
The overhaul began in 1992, and included extensive overhauls of its running gear, pumps, piping, valves and springs, along with replacement of its firebox and extensive boiler work. Even the cab interior has been refurbished.
No. 844 was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad. It was delivered in 1944. A high-speed passenger engine, it pulled such widely known trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger.
When diesel locomotives took over passenger train duties in the mid-1950s, No. 844 was placed in freight service in Nebraska between 1957 and 1959. It was saved from being scrapped in 1960 and held for special service.
No. 844 has run hundreds of thousands of miles for UP’s Heritage program. It has made appearances at Expo ’74 in Spokane, the 1981 opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.
Ultra-low Emission Gensets
Connecting its past and future, Union Pacific will also have two of the rail industry’s’ most environmentally friendly locomotives – one used for long haul and the other used in rail yards – on public display. The rail yard locomotive, called a Genset switcher, was pioneered by a Union Pacific employee.
The Genset switcher reduces emissions of nitrous oxides by 80 percent and particulate matter by 90 percent. It also uses up to 37 percent less fuel compared to older switching locomotives. This fuel savings translates into a greenhouse gas reduction of up to 37 percent.
Union Pacific’s EPA Tier 2 long-haul locomotive
Built in May 2006, diesel locomotive UP 1989 is an EPA Tier 2, long-haul 4,300-horsepower road unit that reduces exhaust emissions by more than 40 percent compared to road locomotives built before 2000. Its 16-cylinder engine will consume several hundred thousand fewer gallons of fuel in its lifetime than those built just two years earlier.
Union Pacific introduced the locomotive in Denver on June 19, 2006. Incorporating historic colors and graphic elements of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, the locomotive pays tribute to the men and women of the railroad that “went everywhere the hard way.”
— Special to Railfanning.org News Wire