Union Pacific 3985
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|Union Pacific 3985|
Union Pacific Challenger No. 3985 rolling through Alton, Iowa on October 1, 2008
Union Pacific 3985 is a four-cylinder simple articulated 4-6-6-4 Challenger-type steam locomotive owned and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. Built in July 1943 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) of Schenectady, New York, the locomotive is one of only two Union Pacific Challengers left in existence, along with No. 3977, which is on static display in North Platte, Nebraska.
No. 3985 was the largest and heaviest operational preserved steam locomotive in the world until mechanical problems took it offline in 2010. Since then, No. 3985 has been stored at Union Pacific's Steam Shops in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 2015, UP officials announced that the locomotive would be repaired and returned to excursion service between 2021 and 2022. When the overhaul is completed, it would become the world's second-largest operational steam locomotive, after Union Pacific 4014, a Big Boy-type locomotive that became the world's largest operational steam locomotive after its restoration was completed in May 2019.
Designed by UP chief mechanical engineer Otto Jabelmann in 1941, UP 3985 was part of the second order of this second version of the Challenger. The design drew on recent experience with the enormous 4-8-8-4 Big Boy locomotives, and resulted in a locomotive in working order weighing some 317 short tons (288 t; 283 long tons) accompanied by a tender weighing 174 short tons (158 t; 155 long tons) when 2/3 loaded. Calculated tractive effort is 97,350 lbf (433.0 kN). The Challenger class was intended to speed up freight operations on the 0.82% grades across Wyoming; the 1.14% Wasatch Range climb east from Ogden was to be conquered by the Big Boys without helpers. The Challengers and Big Boys arrived on the scene just as traffic was surging in preparation for American participation in World War II.
Service and restoration
UP 3985 was part of the 4664-4 group of Challengers built in 1943. Although this group consisted of 31 locomotives, only 25 went to the Union Pacific. The other six were leased to the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad after completion, and later sold to the Clinchfield Railroad in 1947. While the Union Pacific Challengers operated primarily in freight service, a few were assigned to passenger trains.
UP 3985 operated in its last "revenue" train service in 1957. The locomotive was retired in 1962 and after many years of storage in a roundhouse at Cheyenne, Wyoming, it was placed on an outdoor display beside the Cheyenne depot in 1975.
Beginning in 1979, a group of Union Pacific employee-volunteers started work on restoring the locomotive, and it was returned to operational condition in 1981. Originally built to burn coal, it was successfully converted to burn No. 5 fuel oil in 1990.
The locomotive has pulled many excursion trains in three alternate identities during its career. In November 1992, No. 3985 was chosen to pull the Clinchfield Santa Train as Clinchfield Railroad No. 676. In May 1993, the locomotive masqueraded as sister engine No. 3967 as part of the 40th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club excursion, in which the original 3967, which was scrapped in 1960, pulled the same excursion on May 17, 1953. During the same time period, the engine was renumbered again to 3718; no Challenger was ever assigned such a number.
Stationed at Cheyenne with other equipment in the UP's heritage collection, it was used for excursion trains and occasionally mainline freight on ferry moves. It was in the maintenance shop at Cheyenne in 2007 and underwent necessary repairs for service in 2008.
In September 2010, No. 3985 was selected to pull the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus train from Cheyenne to Denver, Colorado, where the circus held a special performance to celebrate P.T. Barnum's birthday.
The locomotive last ran on October 14, 2010. In need of repairs, it was then stored in Cheyenne, where it was placed second in line behind Union Pacific No. 4014 in the restoration order. On February 26, 2015, Union Pacific senior manager of Heritage Operations Ed Dickens announced that UP 3985 will be returned to excursion service in 2021 or 2022. The restoration work on No. 4014 was completed in late April 2019, with 3985 set for overhaul after the completion of all 2019 excursions.
- "Challenger No. 3985" (PDF) (Press release). Union Pacific. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 1, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- Boehner, John (November 1982). "3985: The Engine, the People, the Restoration" (PDF). Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 32–38. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 19, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
- Vantuono, William C. (July 28, 2013). "UP: A return to steam for Big Boy 4014". Railway Age. Archived from the original on April 28, 2019. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- "Union Pacific's Clinchfield Challenge DVD". Pentrex. Archived from the original on June 5, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
- "Union Pacific Railroad's World's Largest Operating Steam Locomotive to Pull 'Ringling Bros.' Circus Train on Way to Sedalia, Mo., Celebration". Union Pacific. September 15, 2010. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
- Botkin, William E.; Hill, Ronald G.; Kindig, R.H. (1985). Union Pacific 3985 (1st ed.). Collage. ISBN 978-0918654366.
- Ehernberger, James L. (1993). Union Pacific Steam Challenger Portraits (1st ed.). Challenger Press. ASIN B000TXFDIC.
- Kratville, William W. (1980). The Challenger Locomotives (1st ed.). Kratville Publications. ASIN B0006E9WN6.
- Stagner, Lloyd E.; Reisdorff, James J. (2003). Fifty Years of Union Pacific Steam Excursions (1st ed.). South Platte Press. ISBN 978-0942035636.
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