The Union Pacific pioneered transcontinental rail service. Eventually, running freight through half of America meant long consists hauled by some of the largest locomotives ever built. Reaching back to the end of the steam era, Union Pacific pictures giants ranging from mainline Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boys and Challenger 4-6-6-4s, to the Class FEF-2 4-8-4 Northern, and a remarkable T-57 4-6-0 ten-wheeler built in 1890. Steam on!
Engines and named trains pictured include:
• Union Pacific 824 (Class FEF-2, a 4-8-4 Northern) is a point helper leading Mail Train #27 out of Cheyenne, WY on January 7, 1956. Train #27 arrived at Cheyenne powered by an all-EMD consist led by an E7A. Engine 824 was added to help #27 to make its running time up to Sherman, WY, where the Northern will be cut off, turn on the wye, and return light to Cheyenne. Once over the top at Sherman, Train #27's diesel power will easily be able to maintain its schedule.
• Union Pacific 6237 (both are EMD Locomotives: 6237 is an SD-60M and 6038 is an SD-60) is running westbound a mile west of Buford, WY on January 11, 1994. The train symbol is "NPLAZ," so it is running from North Platte to Los Angeles; the Z represents expedited freight. The first four cars in this consist are carrying live hogs on their way to the Farmer John Packing Plant in Los Angeles, CA. This was the last live farm animal transport run by the Union Pacific. The railroad no longer ships live animals.
• Union Pacific 826, a Class FEF-2 Northern, has Mail Train First #6 running eastbound one mile west of Buford, WY on track #2, about 24 miles west of Cheyenne on March 30, 1952. The placard displaying a 1-6 means that this is the first section of Train #6. There will be another mail or express train following, and it will be designated Second #6. It looks like a change in the weather is not too far away.
• Union Pacific 2458 (a General Electric C30-7 followed by two EMD SD40-2's and another C30-7) leads a westbound grain train on the #3 track one mile west of Perkins, WY on April 10, 1963. The #3 track is the alternate line around Sherman Summit. It adds about eight miles to the trip between Cheyenne and Laramie, but the westbound grade is .82% instead of 1.55%, a tremendous difference for a heavy freight train. Routing slower trains to #3 track opened "Old Main Line #1" to passenger trains and fast, light freight trains. Track #3 was completed in 1953, and it is a busy stretch of railroad.
• Sitting at the west end of the Cheyenne, WY yard is Union Pacific Big Boy 4014, newly arrived from Laramie, WY on August 30, 1958. Although the steam era was drawing to a close, 4014 would be one of six Big Boys returned to service in July of 1959. From July 7th until July 21st, 4014 made eight Cheyenne-Laramie-Cheyenne round trips, the last one was on July 21, 1959. 4014 was then donated and put on display at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, CA. In 2016, it was moved to Cheyenne to be put into running condition to mark the 150th anniversary of the joining of the rails at Promontory, UT in May 2019. If all goes well, there may be an opportunity to shoot this same portrait again.
• Union Pacific 7037, a 4-8-2 Mountain, is coming through Sand Creek Junction, CO with the northbound Cheyenne local (Train #57) on April 14, 1952. 7037 was built for passenger service, and it still displays a passenger paint scheme, although it is well past its prime. All 45 of the 7000's were built by the American Locomotive Company in 1922, and all were off the roster by the end of 1956.
• This view is at the east end of Cheyenne, Wyoming in July 1959; the steam era is rapidly closing. The photographer, a visitor from Illinois, was just hoping to get pictures of steam locomotives, and luck was with him. 3702 on the right is leaving Cheyenne for North Platte, Nebraska, while 3703 on the left is arriving with a freight that will be dispatched to the west from Cheyenne with diesel power, probably in the dead of night. Both are 4-6-6-4 Challengers. Built originally as coal burners, in 1952 they were among a group of eight converted to use oil as fuel and received new numbers, 3702 and 3703 are two of the group.
• Union Pacific 605 is leading the eastbound Train #10, the City of St. Louis, out of Los Angeles, California in August 1951. This is an interesting power combination. The first two units are an American Locomotive Company (ALCO) PA-1 and a PB-1. The third unit is a Fairbanks-Morse Erie-built A Unit. As handsome as these sleek passenger engines were, they could not turn in a performance like that of Electro-Motive's E-Series passenger locomotives. The E's continued in service on almost all of Union Pacific's named trains, while the Erie-builts were removed entirely from service. The Alco PA's worked secondary lines, or, eventually, some mixed trains and an occasional freight, mostly in Kansas and Nebraska.
• Union Pacific Challenger 3986 is leading a westbound freight one mile west of the Archer, WY depot on September 2, 1957. Cheyenne and a crew change are only eight miles ahead. 3986 was a "war baby" built and delivered in 1943, part of a 25-locomotive order built by the American Locomotive Company. Two were saved: 3977 is on display at Cody Park in North Platte, NE, and 3985 is still on the Union Pacific roster.
• Union Pacific, in the 1960's, became enamored of high horsepower diesel locomotives, so in 1964 the American Locomotive Company built three two-engine "Century Series" 5,500-horsepower Model C-855A’s, two A units and one B unit. 60 and 61 were the cab units and 60B was the B Unit. After more than a few mechanical failures, they were used only on lower priority freight trains. The two A units were seen on sugar beet trains, and after a year they needed extensive repairs. By 1970, Union Pacific had set them aside and they were scrapped a year later. In this image, 61 is on a westbound freight at North Platte, Nebraska on October 2, 1968.
• Union Pacific 1243, a ten-wheeler (4-6-0) built by the Cooke Locomotive Works in 1890, is still at work on November 12, 1958. 1243 worked the Encampment Branch due to load restrictions over several bridges. 1243 would run east out of Rawlins on the Main Line to Wolcott Junction where It would head south on the Encampment Branch. In this image, it is switching at Rawlins. Union Pacific got their money's worth out of this little engine. 1243 was saved, and it is on display at the Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, NE.
• Union Pacific Streamliner M-10005 is on the westbound City of Denver passing by Chicago and North Western Switcher 2146 (0-6-0) at Chicago, IL in December 1945. At this time, the Chicago and North Western was the eastern terminus partner for most of the Union Pacific's long-haul passenger trains; the City of Denver seen here is traveling over C&NW tracks.
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