Union Pacific Railroad Celebrates 150 Years: A Celebrated Visit to Houston
By Joan Whetzel
Union Pacific Railway marked the 150th Anniversary in 2012, celebrating with a nationwide tour of its traveling train museum, headed up by the last steam locomotive made for the Railroad, the number 844. Union Pacific Railroad's history began with the transcontinental railroad which captured the nation's imagination. Union Pacific Railroad joined forces with Central Pacific Railroad to create this engineering marvel which was hailed because:
- it reduced the travel time from New York to San Francisco from a 6 month trip by sea to a 10 day overland excursion.
- it linked the East and West coasts, creating new settlements along the railroad line for millions of people, which in turn, brought new trade with overseas business contacts (both in Asia and in Europe) and produced a huge expansion in industrial growth.
- it was a marvelous tribute to the work ethic, abilities, and innovation of the railroad builders and crews.
- it began a revolution in transportation that has continued up to the present day.
Union Pacific's tour included a stop at the Amtrack Station in Houston, Texas in October 2012. The event drew large crowds anxious to see the historic steam locomotive and passenger cars.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum
Union Pacific Railroad's Museum is located in the Carnegie Library in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It contains hands-on exhibits including a telegraph station and locomotive simulator as well as 150 years of history in photographs and films covering the laying of tracks, the age of the steam engine for passenger and freight service across America's wilderness, and the evolution to the age of diesel locomotives.
The train tour that came through Houston in October 2012 included one passenger car converted into a gift shop and traveling museum. Other draws included a mini train ride for visitors as well as a travelling version of the locomotive simulator. Visitors also stood in line to get a close-up look inside the cab of the steam locomotive.
America's Premier Railroad Franchise
Union Pacific Railroad operates in 23 states which links the western 2/3 of the country with freight service. Today, UP operates with more fuel efficient and environmentally responsible diesel locomotives, thanks to recent upgrades. The freight carrier transports oil and coal, chemicals, food and food products, forest products, grain, metals and minerals, automobiles and car parts, and raw materials for just about any industry, as well as durable and consumer goods. Union Pacific has a major intermodal train yard in the Houston area, which does a great deal of business. (Intermodal means the transportation of goods by more than one form of transportation, usually making use of trains, trucking, and shipping by sea.)
Lincoln and Union Pacific
The Union Pacific Railroad came into being when President Lincoln signed the papers that made the transcontinental railroad possible. The Pacific Railroad Act, signed on July 1, 1862, assigned the duties for building the cross-country route to two Railroads - the Central Pacific railroad in California and to the newly formed Union Pacific Railroad. During UP's Anniversary stop in Houston, President Lincoln came out to talk with visitors and pose for pictures.
The Steam Locomotive No. 844
UP's historic Steam Locomotive Number 844 was the last steam engine ever constructed for the Union Pacific Railroad. Upon its delivery in 1944, it headed up the Railroad's high-speed passenger service pulling the Overland Limited, the Los Angeles Limited, the Portland Rose, and the Challenger trains. When diesel engines took over the passenger service, the Number 844 locomotive was switched to freight service (1957-1959). Narrowly avoiding the scrap-yard in 1960 , the Number 844 was rescued and set aside for "special service" and is now an ambassador of goodwill as well as a travelling piece of history. The locomotive is a favorite among railroad enthusiasts who love to follow it on its excursion runs or show up at its special stops, like the one in Houston.
The man standing next to the wheel on the steam locomotive is a little taller than 6 foot tall, which gives a good idea of just how huge those wheels are in real life.
Below are listed a few fun facts about the Steam Locomotive Number 844.
- Driving Wheel diameter = 80"
- Engine and Tender Length = 114' 25/8"
- Track Gauge = 4' 81/2"
- Boiler diameter = 863/16"
- Boiler Pressure = 300 lbs.
- Maximum Traction Power = 63,800 lbs.
- Fuel = 6,200 gallons of No. 5 Oil
- Engine Weight = 466,340 lbs
- Tender Weight (loaded) = 421,550 lbs.
- Engine and Tender Weight (together) = 907,980 lbs = 454 tons
Union Pacific Railroad Fun Facts (as of December 31, 2011) - Union Pacific:
- Has 31,900 Miles of Route Track.
- Employs 44,800 People.
- Has annual Payroll of $8.3 Billion.
- Gave to the Community approximately $13.9 Million.
- Has Approximately 8,200 Locomotives.
Union Pacific Railroad. Lincoln and Union Pacific.
Union Pacific. Union Pacific Overview.
Union Pacific. Union Pacific Steam.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum Brochure. Building America