Union Pacific Railroad’s Legendary Steam Locomotive to Visit South Texas On a Heritage Tour

OMAHA, Neb. — Union Pacific Railroad’s historic steam locomotive, No. 844, will travel more than 3,500 miles from its base in Wyoming on a 28-day, eight-state tour to South Texas, to celebrate the railroad’s history and heritage.

The “Valley Eagle Heritage Tour” will begin April 2 when No. 844 leaves Cheyenne, Wyo., and travels to North Platte, Neb. The locomotive will make overnight stops and be on display in the following cities before arriving back in Cheyenne April 29:

  • North Platte, Neb.
  • Marysville, Parsons and Coffeyville, Kan.
  • Kansas City, Mo.
  • McAlester, Okla.
  • Ft. Worth, Hearne, Houston, Bloomington, Raymondville, Harlingen, Palestine and Longview, Texas
  • North Little Rock and Van Buren, Ark.

“This will be the first time No. 844 has operated south of Houston and we look forward to bringing a piece of living history to this part of our rail network,” said Joe Adams, vice president of public affairs for Union Pacific’s Southern Region. “Our steam locomotives play a special role in our collection of historical railroad equipment, which is the largest of any U. S. railroad.”

The tour was named after a Missouri Pacific Railroad passenger train that operated between Houston and Brownsville. The Valley Eagle began running in late-1948 until the train was discontinued in June 1962. Missouri Pacific merged with Union Pacific in 1982.

No. 844, also known as Union Pacific’s “Living Legend,” returned to service in 2005 after one of the most extensive steam locomotive overhauls in the United States since regular steam service ended. The work, which started in 2000, included overhauling the locomotive’s running gear, pumps, piping, valves and springs, along with replacement of its firebox and extensive boiler work. The cab interior also was refurbished. No. 844 was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad and was delivered in 1944. A passenger locomotive, 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.  During the 1990’s No. 844 pulled several of the Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days specials and visited several Oklahoma cities during the Oklahoma Centennial in 2007.

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. Enter the word “Steam” in the search box on the homepage for a shortcut to the map.

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. GPS updates are also available at http://twitter.com/UP_Steam.

During 2010, the Reed Jackson concession car displays a commemorative sign celebrating the National Model Railroad Association’s 75 years of service to the model railroad community.