Union Pacific 844
UP 844 at Painted Rocks, Nevada, on September 15, 2009
Union Pacific 844 is a 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam locomotive built by the American Locomotive Company in December of 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, the 844 was retained by the railroad for special activities. Today, it is one of UP's oldest serving locomotives and is the only steam locomotive never retired by a North American Class I railroad.
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.
From 1957 to 1959, UP 844 was reassigned to freight service in Nebraska when diesel-electric locomotives took over passenger service.
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.
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, 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.
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 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 June of 2013, the locomotive's gyrating Mars light, installed in 1946, had the bolts that held it in place failing, and as a result, it was removed. 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.
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 is 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 is scheduled to pull the Frontier train for the Cheyenne Frontiers Day on July 23rd, 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.
Union Pacific "8444"
From 1962 to 1989, the locomotive was numbered UP #8444 because the railroad had given 844 to an 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. There is now an EMD SD70ACe in UP's roster numbered 8444.
Surviving sister engines
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.
UP 844 is featured prominently in 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.
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."
- Klein, Maury (2011). Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration: Americas's Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 163.
- Union Pacific Railroad (2012). "Living Legend No. 844". UP.com. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- See Edmonson, Harold A. and Goodheart, David. "Union Pacific's 8444," at 1 (1989, Goodheart Publications).
- Union Pacific. "LIVING LEGEND NO. 844 THE LAST OF THE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES". Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- Strack, Don. "Utah State Railroad Museum at Ogden Union Station". Retrieved 19 January 2011.
- Dorin, Patrick (1979). Amtrak Trains and Travel. Seattle, Washington: Superior Publishing Co. ISBN 0-87564-533-X., 47.
- "Foto's van Union Pacific 3985/844 Info". Facebook. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "UP: Union Pacific Railroad Acquires Big Boy Locomotive No. 4014". Uprr.com. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- "Locomotive No. 844 Makes First Return Journey". www.up.com. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "UP 844 Union Pacific EMD GP30 at Boulder City, Nevada". Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- "UP 8444 Union Pacific EMD SD70ACe at Laramie, Wyoming". Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- Union Pacific 838 and 5511 Archived July 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Pictures of UP 814 Archived July 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Pictures of UP 833 Archived July 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Union Pacific 844.|
- UP: Living Legend No. 844; official website
- Union Pacific Steam Shop UP Steam Program
- The Otto C. Perry Collection of UP 844[permanent dead link]
- Just For Fun . . . Photos of UP 844's May 2007 visit to the Seattle area
- Video of 8444 taken July 3rd 1983
- Video: Union Pacific #844 Frontier Days Train, 7/21/2012