OMAHA, Neb. — Thousands of people will have the chance to see this “living legend” in person when Union Pacific’s historic steam locomotive, No. 844, travels from its base in Wyoming, to California on a 32-day, four-state tour.
The “Western Heritage Tour” will be rolling from April 11 through May 12, heading through many cities and towns that witnessed the birth of the railroad. The 844 will make special stops in eight cities across Nevada, California and Utah for the public to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity, the No. 844 Western Heritage Tour.
The Steam Locomotive will help “heat up” some special celebrations:
— The City of Roseville, Calif. Centennial
— Western Pacific’s Centennial at Portola, Calif.
— The 140th Anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike in Ogden, Utah
“We are very excited to be a part of so many celebrations this year. The towns that we are visiting have strong ties to the railroad,” said Steve Lee, Union Pacific’s manager – operating practices and locomotive engineer.
About the 844
No. 844 was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad and 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-electric locomotives took over all passenger train duties, 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 the Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.
Known as Union Pacific’s “Living Legend,” No. 844 returned to service in 2005 after one of the most extensive steam locomotive overhauls in the United States since the 1950s. The work began in 2000 and affected its running gear, pumps, piping, valves and springs. Along with replacement of its firebox and extensive boiler work, the cab interior was refurbished.
A Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) transmitter was installed on one of the rail cars that will travel with No. 844. The GPS system has been integrated with a map on UP’s Web site.
Web site visitors will be able to access route maps with varying amounts of detail. The GPS system will update the map every five minutes showing No. 844’s location.