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 typeSteam
BuilderAmerican Locomotive Company
Serial number72791
Build dateDecember 24, 1944
 • Whyte4-8-4
 • UIC2′D2′ h2
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driver dia.80 in (2,032 mm)
WheelbaseLoco & tender: 98 ft 5 in (30.00 m)
Adhesive weight266,490 lb (120,878 kg; 121 t)
Loco weight490,700 lb (222,578 kg; 223 t)
Tender weight421,550 lb (191,212 kg; 191 t)
Total weight912,250 lb (413,790 kg; 414 t)
Fuel typeNo. 5 fuel oil, originally coal
Fuel capacity6,200 US gal (23,000 l; 5,200 imp gal)
Water cap23,500 US gal (89,000 l; 19,600 imp gal)
 • Firegrate area
100 sq ft (9.3 m2) (grate removed in 1945)
Boiler86 ​316 in (2189.2 mm) diameter
Boiler pressure300 lbf/in2 (2.07 MPa)
Heating surface4,224 sq ft (392.4 m2)
 • Tubes2,204 sq ft (204.8 m2)
 • Flues1,578 sq ft (146.6 m2)
 • Firebox442 sq ft (41.1 m2)
 • Heating area1,400 sq ft (130 m2)
Cylinder size25 in × 32 in (635 mm × 813 mm)
Performance figures
Maximum speed120 mph (190 km/h)
Power output4,500 hp (3,400 kW)
Tractive effort63,800 lbf (283.8 kN)
Factor of adh.4.18
OperatorsUnion Pacific Railroad
Numbers844 (8444 from 1962-1989)
Current ownerUnion Pacific Railroad
DispositionOperational, based on Cheyenne, Wyoming, in roundhouse

Union Pacific 844 is a 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam locomotive built by the American Locomotive Company in December 1944 for the Union Pacific Railroad. Constructed as a member of the FEF-3 class of 4-8-4's, the 844 was the last steam locomotive delivered to Union Pacific. Though the FEF-3 class was originally built for high-speed passenger work, 844 and the rest of the FEF-3 class were pressed into a variety of dual-service work. While commercial Union Pacific steam operations ended in the late 1950s, 844 was retained by the railroad for special activities. Today, it is one of UP's oldest serving locomotives,[1] as well as 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]

Union Pacific 844 hauling the Pony Express in 1949.

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

Union Pacific 844's controls.

Saved from scrapping in 1960,[4] 844 was chosen for rebuilding 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 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.
UP 844 after the Mars light was removed.

Since 1960, 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 composed of cars from 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 and 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. It took three hours to get the tender back on the rails.

In June 2013, the locomotive's gyrating Mars light, installed in 1946, was removed due to the bolts that held it in place beginning to fail.[7] That same year, UP announced that 844 and 3985 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]

Following the end of the 2013 season, the locomotive was taken out of service for boiler work necessitated by a change in the water treatment, spending all of 2014 in Cheyenne. In 2015, it was announced that 844 would be receiving an early 15-year inspection and was expected to return to service sometime in 2016.

On June 16, 2016, the 844 was test fired and was completed on June 17, 2016. It was scheduled to pull the Frontier train for the Cheyenne Frontiers Day on July 23, 2016.

On July 12, 2016, the Union Pacific Steam Team took the locomotive on a "break-in run" as a sort of all-systems check and dress rehearsal for the July 23rd appearance at the Cheyenne Frontier Days. The break-in run was described as a complete success.[9]

On October 13, 2016 the Union Pacific Steam Team started its eighteen-day "Trek To Tennessee" journey with the newly restored 844. This was the first major trip for the newly restored locomotive.

On July 22, 2018, the 844 was involved in a fatal pedestrian accident in Henderson, Colorado. The engine was leading the Cheyenne Frontier Days Special, which carries people to and from Denver and Cheyenne each year for the county festival. The train was on its way to Denver when the pedestrian was hit. The train was stopped immediately following the accident. Police reported that the victim was trying to take photos of the train while standing too close to the tracks before getting hit.[10]

Union Pacific "8444"[edit]

Steam locomotive #844 was renumbered to UP #8444 (top) from 1962 to 1989 because a GP30 diesel locomotive (bottom) was given the same number.

From 1962 to 1989, the locomotive was numbered UP #8444 because the railroad had given the number 844 to an EMD GP30 locomotive. After the GP30 was retired from service in June 1989, 8444 was renumbered back to 844.[11] The GP30 is now on display at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City, Nevada, where it remains operable. There is now an EMD SD70ACe in UP's roster numbered 8444.[12]

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.[13]

Union Pacific 844 traveling through Cajon Pass in November 2011.

Others include FEF-1 814 in Council Bluffs, Iowa,[14] and FEF-2 833 in Ogden, Utah.[15]

Film history[edit]

UP 844 was documented in the 1981 film "Eighty Four Forty Four" by the Union Pacific Railroad. Some of those clips would be later used for the opening and closing credits of the PBS show Shining Time Station, which ran from 1989 until 1993. It was named "Rainbow Sun" for the fictional Indian Valley Railroad.

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 (and several other restored steam locomotives) appear in the music video with the Pat Metheny Group's "Last Train Home".


  1. ^ Klein, Maury (2011). Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration: America'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. ^ "Locomotive No. 844 Makes First Return Journey". www.up.com. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
  10. ^ https://kdvr.com/2018/07/21/pedestrian-struck-by-train-near-henderson/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "UP 844 Union Pacific EMD GP30 at Boulder City, Nevada". Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  12. ^ "UP 8444 Union Pacific EMD SD70ACe at Laramie, Wyoming". Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  13. ^ Union Pacific 838 and 5511 Archived July 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Pictures of UP 814 Archived July 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Pictures of UP 833 Archived July 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]