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 4-8-4 Northern, and a remarkable Consolidation 2-8-0 built in 1901. Steam on!
Union Pacific 2021 monthly wall calendar features: Large blocks for notes | Beautiful reproduction | Quality heavy-weight paper | Deluxe 11- by 14-inch size
Locomotives and locations pictured in the 2021 edition include:
• Union Pacific 820, a Class FEF-2 Northern, is leaving Council Bluffs, Iowa with 15-car Mail Train #5 on January 25, 1955. 820 was delivered in August 1939. There were 15 locomotives in its class, all with 80-inch-drivers, so 110 miles per hour was not a stretch for 820 and its 14 stablemates. On August 3, 1950, 820 was running light eastbound when the towerman at Borie, Wyoming stopped it there at about 9:30 p.m. Both the engineer and fireman climbed into the tower. The independent air brake failed and 820 began rolling down a 1.55% grade toward the Cheyenne Yard traveling the nine miles in less than eight minutes. A switcher was on duty with a cut of loaded cattle cars when 820 plowed into it moving at about 100 miles per hour destroying the switcher and killing its engineer, fireman, and a brakeman on the ground. Despite serious damage, 820 was repaired and placed back in service.
• Union Pacific 817 (A Class FEF-1 Northern) is leading northbound Train #57, the Denver-to-Cheyenne local, through a raging snowstorm in February 1956. 817 is making a station stop at Greeley, Colorado. While the fireman takes on a load of water, the engineer is giving his locomotive a quick walkaround. Even with the snow, the short train will pose no challenge for the big Northern and will cover the 54 miles to Cheyenne for an on-time arrival at 11:05 a.m.
• Union Pacific Turbine 59 is emerging from the Hermosa Tunnel on March 2, 1954 with a westbound freight in tow. Turbine 59 is nearly new, delivered along with eight others in August 1953. There were ten of this class of turbines; they had a 7,200 gallons fuel supply built into the engine frame. In 1955 24,000-gallon fuel tenders were added to extend the engines’ range. There were also an experiment in conjunction with Richfield Oil Corporation which converted Turbine 57 to run propane. Because of safety concerns, the project was scrapped after six months. Then in July 1958, Turbines 59 and 60 were placed back to back with a fuel bunker in between, creating a 9,000-horsepower locomotive. That test lasted about six months. Then several were set up to run with diesels. But these turbines were high maintenance, and by 1964 all had been retired.
• Union Pacific 158, four EMD GP-9s, the third one a cabless unit, is approaching Dale, Wyoming, coming off the #3 track with a westbound freight on April 25, 1955. It will stop to let Train #9, the westbound City of St. Louis led by an E7A coming down Sherman Hill on the left pass by. It will then follow #9 westbound into Laramie. Main Track One is unoccupied on the left; Main Track #2 has the westbound passenger train rolling by. Note the person giving the passenger train a roll-by. Track #3 has the westbound freight on it. This is the west end of the #3 track where it meets the Main Line. The twin bore Hermosa Tunnel is only a few miles to the west.
• Union Pacific 944-947B-936B is an all EMD Combination, an E9A and two E8Bs, running the eastbound 15-car Train #10, the City of St. Louis passing under the coal dock at La Salle, Colorado on May 22, 1955. The City of St. Louis was operated eastbound by the Union Pacific from Los Angeles, California to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where it was turned over to the Wabash Railroad. Wabash operated it from Council Bluffs to St. Louis, Missouri. It was handled in reverse order for westbound Train #9.
• Union Pacific 823, a Class FEF-2 Northern (FEF-2 means 4-8-4-second order) is running as a point helper assisting Big Boy 4006, the assigned road locomotive, as they pass under the Colorado and Southern Railroad with a westbound freight, heading out of Cheyenne, Wyoming on a warm June 16, 1956. Double-heading of these two locomotives may not have been done to provide power to make the westbound run over Sherman Hill to Laramie, Wyoming. This train ran the "long way" to Laramie, out to Speer and then to Dale on the new line, a little longer than the Main Line, but with an easier grade. 823 may have been wanted for passenger train protection or for a freight out of Laramie later that day.
• Union Pacific 9394, two C40-8Ws and a GP40X, is leading a hot westbound intermodal train easily traveling at 70-miles-per-hour across a girder bridge at Howell, Wyoming, about seven miles west of Laramie on August 3, 1992. 9394 is rolling downgrade here and has backed off a little. The exhaust smoke only tends to increase the appearance of high speed. No matter, 9394 is ripping right along. And what about Howell? It must be a name from another time. There was never a siding here, only a sign with the name "Howell" on it.
• Union Pacific 7039, an MT Class Mountain (4-8-2), is coming through Sand Creek Junction, Colorado, a few miles north of Denver with Train #57, the Denver-Cheyenne local, on August 24, 1952. Purchased from Alco-Brooks for passenger service they were delivered in 1923 and used primarily west of Cheyenne. As passenger train speeds increased, however, they could not keep up with newer 800 Class Northerns (4-8-4). The 7000s came in handy during World War II on heavy troop trains and in moving the tremendous overload of freight created by the war. In 1946 they were painted in a two-tone gray scheme that proved difficult to maintain, and by 1950 or so, it was discontinued. Early in the 1950s UP began retiring the MT Class, and the last of the 7000's was off the active roster by January 1956.
• Union Pacific Big Boy 4015 leads an eastbound freight one mile east of Colores, Wyoming on September 17, 1958. Colores is a short siding on Main Track Number One 12 miles east of Laramie. Time is getting short for the 25 4000s, as scads of new diesels are on order or being scheduled for delivery. 4015 would have one last day in the sun a little over ten months after this picture was taken. On July 21, 1959, 4015 left Cheyenne running a westbound freight at 12:15 a.m. with five car loads and 104 empties. It arrived in Laramie at 3:05 a.m. and at 4:10 p.m. departed with an eastbound freight of 74 car loads and two empties. It stopped at Granite and picked up 32 more cars, then proceeded on to Cheyenne, arriving at 7:55 p.m. This would prove to be the last revenue freight ever hauled by a 4000 in what remained of the steam era.
• One-month-old Union Pacific 8,500 h.p. Turbine 2 is pulling out of the Cheyenne, Wyoming Yard with an eastbound freight on October 26, 1958. There were 30 of these third-generation gas turbine electric designs. The controls and a small diesel engine for auxiliary power were in the first unit, while the turbine was in the second, larger unit. The third unit was a fuel tender. Each one was a lot of locomotive at a 179-feet-long. They had to be turned on a wye, because they were too long for any turntable on the entire system. They were operated from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Ogden, Utah. Increased maintenance was a problem, and they started retiring in 1968, including Turbine 2 shown here. All were out of service by the end of 1969. Two of these turbines were preserved. Engine 18 at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union and engine 26 at the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden, Utah
• Union Pacific 3957 and 4021, a Challenger and a Big Boy respectively, are double-headed with a 59-car westbound train leaving Cheyenne, Wyoming on November 11, 1951. Either one of these locomotives could probably have handled this freight over Sherman Hill to Laramie without help, but one of them might be needed for a train originating in Laramie, or the Challenger (3927) might be used in passenger train protection there. There were a fair number of passenger and mail-express trains, and if there was a power problem eastbound at Laramie an engine like 3927 might be added for the 22-mile 0.82% to 1.18% grade from there to Sherman Summit. Or maybe the roundhouse foreman at Cheyenne was sending an extra locomotive back to help balance things out. Today computers determine engine allocations, but this is 1951.
• Union Pacific 430, a vintage Consolidation (2-8-0) leads two-car mixed train #79 westbound out of Genoa, Nebraska, heading to Spaulding, 44 miles away. 430 was built in 1901 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and was in continuous service until June 1958. The combine car on the rear of this train was a convenience of sorts for the occasional passenger who would share the car with less-than-carload freight hauled in the baggage compartment. If you were a passenger on a mixed train, your personal schedule took second place. If the train had to stop and switch somewhere along your line of travel, all you could do was be patient. There were literally hundreds of mixed trains on a multitude of railroads. With the improvement of highways and the automobiles that used them, almost all mixed trains disappeared in the late 1940s and 1950s.
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