Union Pacific 844

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Union Pacific 844
Union Pacific 844, Painted Rocks, NV, 2009 (crop).jpg
UP 844 at Painted Rocks, Nevada, on September 15, 2009
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder American Locomotive Company
Serial number 72791
Build date December 1944
Configuration 4-8-4
UIC classification 2′D2′ h2
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver diameter 80 in (2,032 mm)
Wheelbase Loco & tender: 98 ft 5 in (30.00 m)
Weight on drivers 266,490 lb (120,878 kg; 121 t)
Locomotive weight 486,340 lb (220,600 kg; 221 t)
Locomotive and tender
combined weight
907,890 lb (411,812 kg; 412 t)
Fuel type No. 5 fuel oil, originally coal
Fuel capacity 6,200 US gal (23,000 l; 5,200 imp gal)
Water capacity 23,500 US gal (89,000 l; 19,600 imp gal)
Boiler 86 316 in (2189.2 mm) diameter
Boiler pressure 300 lbf/in2 (2.07 MPa)
Firegrate area 100 sq ft (9.3 m2) (grate removed in 1945)
Heating surface:
– Tubes
2,204 sq ft (204.8 m2)
– Flues 1,578 sq ft (146.6 m2)
– Firebox 442 sq ft (41.1 m2)
– Total 4,224 sq ft (392.4 m2)
Superheater area 1,400 sq ft (130 m2)
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size 25 in × 32 in (635 mm × 813 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort 63,750 lbf (283.6 kN)
Factor of
Operator(s) Union Pacific Railroad
Class FEF-3
Number(s) 844 (8444 from 1962-1989)

Union Pacific 844 is a 4-8-4 steam locomotive owned by Union Pacific Railroad. Built in 1944, it was the last steam locomotive delivered to Union Pacific. Today, it is one of UP's oldest serving locomotives[1] and is the only steam locomotive never retired by a North American Class I railroad.[2]


No. 844 was one of ten locomotives that were ordered by Union Pacific in 1944 and designated as class FEF-3. The FEF-3 class represented the epitome of dual-service steam locomotive development; funds and research were being concentrated into the development of diesel-electric locomotives. Designed to burn coal, they were converted to run on fuel oil. Like the earlier FEF-2 class, FEF-3 locomotives were designed as passenger engines. They pulled such trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger.[3]

From 1957 to 1959, UP 844 was reassigned to freight service in Nebraska when diesel-electric locomotives took over passenger service.

Saved from scrapping in 1960,[4] 844 was chosen for restoration and is now used on company and public excursion trains, along with revenue freight during ferry moves.

Built and designed in a joint-effort between the Union Pacific and ALCO, the 844 and the rest of the FEF-3 class could safely handle 120 mph. On one occasion, one of the engines of the FEF-3 class pulled a 1,000-ton passenger train at a 100 mph. All FEF classes were considered by the Union Pacific to be capable of producing between 4,000 and 5,000 drawbar horsepower.

Excursion career[edit]

UP #844 underway in Kosse, Texas in 2010.

Since 1962, No. 844 has run hundreds of thousands of miles as Union Pacific's publicity locomotive. The locomotive often pulls the annual Denver Post-sponsored Cheyenne Frontier Days train that runs round-trip from Cheyenne to Denver in July.

It appeared at Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington, the 1978 dedication of the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden, Utah,[5] 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 Los Angeles Union Station in 1989, when it performed a side-by-side run with Southern Pacific 4449. On February 14, 1975, it pulled Amtrak's San Francisco Zephyr from Denver, Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, with a pair of EMD SDP40Fs.[6]

Over the weekend of October 14, 1990, 844 led a procession of special trains from Kansas City Union Station to Abilene, Kansas, for World War II veterans to celebrate the 100th birthday of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The “Eisenhower Centennial Special” was comprised cars of the Union Pacific, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway business fleets, with additional passenger cars provided by the Norfolk Southern and Chicago and North Western railroads. Present also in Abilene was General Eisenhower’s command train, code-named "Bayonet", including the British A4 steam locomotive #60008, communication and staff cars from the European Theater of Operations in the Second World War.

On May 18–19, 2007, 844 appeared with Southern Pacific 4449 for the "Puget Sound Excursion", a round trip from Tacoma to Everett on BNSF Railway tracks.

On June 25–26, 2010, it made an excursion trip to Milliken, Colorado's centennial celebration.

In September 2012, the locomotive was used in "UP 150", a celebration of Union Pacific's 150th anniversary celebration, hosted by the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento. During the event, 844's tender derailed on tightly curved track from the mainline to the museum.

In 2013, the locomotive's gyrating Mars light, installed in 1946, was removed because the bolts that held it in place were failing.[7] That same year, UP announced that 844 would eventually be joined in excursion service by Union Pacific 4014, a 4-8-8-4 Big Boy, acquired by UP from the Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.[8]

Union Pacific "8444"[edit]

From 1962–1989, the locomotive was numbered UP #8444 because the railroad had given 844 to a EMD GP30 locomotive. After the GP30 was retired from service in June 1989 (it remains operable, and is on display at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City, Nevada), 8444 was renumbered back to 844.[9] There is now an EMD SD70ACe in UP's roster numbered 8444.[10]

Surviving sister engines[edit]

A second 4-8-4 of the same class, UP 838, is kept in the shops at Cheyenne, Wyoming, as a source of spare parts. It is said that 838's running gear and boiler are in much better condition due to 844's extensive use.[11]

Others include FEF-1 814 in Council Bluffs, Iowa,[12] and FEF-2 833 in Ogden, Utah.[13]

Film history[edit]

UP 844 appears in the opening and closing credits of the 1989–1995 PBS show Shining Time Station.

844 also appears in Extreme Trains in the episode "Steam Train" in which it pulled the Frontier Days special from Denver to Cheyenne.

In the 1990 PBS special Ghost Trains of the Old West, 8444, as it was numbered at the time of filming, is seen pulling a Union Pacific diesel locomotive and passenger train through Wyoming.

UP 844 appears in the music video with the Pat Metheny Group's "Last Train Home."


  1. ^ Klein, Maury (2011). Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration: Americas's Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 163. 
  2. ^ Union Pacific Railroad (2012). "Living Legend No. 844". UP.com. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ See Edmonson, Harold A. and Goodheart, David. "Union Pacific's 8444," at 1 (1989, Goodheart Publications).
  4. ^ Union Pacific. "LIVING LEGEND NO. 844 THE LAST OF THE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES". Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Strack, Don. "Utah State Railroad Museum at Ogden Union Station". Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Dorin, Patrick (1979). Amtrak Trains and Travel. Seattle, Washington: Superior Publishing Co. ISBN 0-87564-533-X. , 47.
  7. ^ "Foto's van Union Pacific 3985/844 Info". Facebook. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ "UP: Union Pacific Railroad Acquires Big Boy Locomotive No. 4014". Uprr.com. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  9. ^ "UP 844 Union Pacific EMD GP30 at Boulder City, Nevada". Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  10. ^ "UP 8444 Union Pacific EMD SD70ACe at Laramie, Wyoming". Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  11. ^ Union Pacific 838 and 5511
  12. ^ Pictures of UP 814
  13. ^ Pictures of UP 833

External links[edit]