OGDEN, UT. | EVANSTON, WY. – Historic Union Pacific steam locomotives are touring the Union Pacific system throughout 2019 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Union Pacific will be hosting a variety of events and celebrations in various communities marking this anniversary. These stops and events will take place in our region along the transcontinental rail route from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Ogden, Utah between May 4th and May 19th. Below you will find a short description of the special anniversary events and details on the brief stops along the locomotives’ return trip. You can also read more on the history of the locomotives themselves and of the Transcontinental Railroad further down the page.
THE MAIN EVENTS
The tour will begin when iconic steam locomotives, Big Boy No. 4014 and Living Legend No. 844 depart from the historic Cheyenne Depot, following a 9:30 a.m. christening ceremony taking place on May 4th. This event will be video streamed, live on the Union Pacific Facebook page.
On Thursday May 9th, the Ogden Heritage Festival will be held in Ogden, Utah at Ogden Union Station. This event is open to the public (No ticket required). A special ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and will also be streamed live on the Union Pacific Facebook page.
The Sesquicentennial Celebration ceremony will take place at Promontory Summit, on Friday, May 10th, where a re-enactment will re-create the historic photograph taken on May 10, 1869, the date when the rail line was completed.
The locomotives will continue to be on display on Friday, May 10th and Saturday, May 11th in Ogden from Noon to 3:00 p.m.
THE RETURN TRIP
Following the 150th anniversary celebrations, No. 4014 and No. 844 will depart Ogden and will double-head on their return trip to Cheyenne, stopping in communities along the way including Evanston, Rock Springs, and Laramie, Wyoming.
On Sunday, May 12th, the locomotives will arrive in Evanston at around 11:05 a.m. Evanston Chamber of Commerce and the Uinta County Museum Foundation will host an old fashioned Mother’s Day Picnic to coincide with the arrival of the iconic steam engines. Living Legend No. 844 and the Big Boy No. 4014 will be on hand at Evanston’s Depot Square. There will be street vendors and activities available. Bring your own picnic or enjoy what the vendors have on offer.
Sunday, May 12
Ogden, Utah: Depart: 8:00 a.m…. Ogden Union Station, 2501 Wall Ave.
Morgan, Utah: Arrival: 9:15 a.m… Morgan Depot 98 Commercial Street / Departure: 9:25 a.m.
Echo, Utah: Arrival: 9:55 a.m… Echo Road Crossing / Departure: 10:05 a.m.
Evanston, Wyo: Arrival: 11:05 a.m… Evanston Depot, 10th St.
Monday, May 13
Evanston, Wyo: Departure: 8:00 a.m… Roundhouse Area
Granger, Wyo: Arrival: 10:00 a.m… Main Street Crossing / Departure: 10:45 a.m.
Click Here for a complete list of all of the stops along the round trip route.
PLEASE BE SAFE
These events and the railroad equipment attending them can be fascinating, but, it is especially important that you take safety seriously and remember to be careful when the steam locomotives come through your community.
• Remember, trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
• A train’s distance from you and its speed can be deceiving.
• The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet – take extra precaution, stand back at least 25 feet from all tracks to avoid debris and steam or being hit by the train.
• Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and right-of-way are private property – please do not trespass.
• Never assume tracks are abandoned or inactive – ALWAYS expect a train and assume tracks are active.
Union Pacific also has a photo safety policy that you should read here.
THE TRAIN ENGINES
During World War II, Union Pacific operated some of the most modern and powerful steam locomotives ever built. Among these impressive machines were the famous “Big Boys,” the largest steam locomotives in the world. Working with them were the “800-class” high-speed passenger locomotives, as well as hundreds of older class steam engines. Union Pacific continues its steam legacy today with the preservation and operation of its historic fleet including the No. 844 and No. 4014.
The “Big Boy” No. 4014: In all, twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad with the first delivered in 1941. Big Boy No. 4014 is one of only eight remaining Big Boys in existence, it is also the only one that is still in operation today. No. 4014 has been newly refurbished for its return to the rails, the result of more than two years of meticulous restoration work by the Union Pacific Steam Team. Restoration work was completed in 2019, prior to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
The Big Boys run about 133 feet in length and weigh 1.2 million pounds. They have a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which means they have four wheels on the leading set of “pilot” wheels which guide the engine, eight drivers on the first engine, another set of eight drivers on the second engine, and four wheels trailing that support the rear of the locomotive. Because of their great length, the frames of these Big Boys are “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. These massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The Living Legend No. 844: Hailed as Union Pacific’s “Living Legend,” Steam Locomotive No. 844 was among the last ten steam locomotives ordered and built for Union Pacific. It was delivered in 1944. The 800 class fleet were high-speed passenger engines, that pulled some of the most widely known trains, such as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose, and Challenger.
When diesel engines took over for all passenger train duties, No. 844 was placed in freight service in Nebraska from 1957 to 1959, then saved from being scrapped in 1960 and held for special service.
Since then, the engine has run hundreds of thousands of miles as an ambassador of goodwill for Union Pacific, visiting many states across the country.
Many people know the engine as No. 8444, since an extra “4” was added to its number in 1962 to distinguish it from a diesel numbered in the 800 series. The steam engine regained its rightful number in June 1989, after that diesel was retired.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act on July 1, 1862, authorizing extensive land grants and government bonds to two railroad companies (the Central Pacific in the east, and the Union Pacific in the west) with the intent to aid in the construction of a 1,912-mile continuous railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri river to the Pacific ocean. Central Pacific Railroad of California, was authorized to build a line stretching eastward from Sacramento, while the Union Pacific Railroad, was authorized to construct a line traveling westward from the Missouri River. The two rail lines were set to meet somewhere in the middle, although the bill did not identify an exact location. Each company was to receive $48,000 in government bonds for every mile of track built.
Thus the great race to completion began.
Since Central Pacific began construction of the their portion of the rail line during the Civil War, and the ‘promise’ of the gold fields lured local men away from railroad work, tens of thousands of young Chinese men were hired as railroad laborers. Despite initial resistance, hiring these hard-working and reliable immigrants proved to be an enormous success. By 1865, as many as 15,000 Chinese immigrants composed 80 percent of the total workforce that constructed the Central Pacific line. The perilous labor of these Chinese workers’ played a critical role in the transformation of the country and the communities along the transcontinental route.
In 1868, when the Union Pacific line neared Utah, the company contracted with Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President, Brigham Young, to provide local contractors to lay track through the Wasatch Mountains. Brigham Young realized a railroad would create jobs, reduce the costs of goods, and improve migration for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints converts moving to Utah. ‘Mormon’ labor crews completed part of the railroad bed from the head of Echo Canyon to the Great Salt Lake. They provided grading, tunneling, and bridge work, including digging four tunnels through Echo and Weber Canyons and creating two temporary trestles; one across the Weber River gorge and one at Promontory. Famously, the Union Pacific went bankrupt and did not honor the payments to President Young and the workers, but eventually agreed to provide rail cars and supplies to help Young construct a railroad connecting Ogden to Salt Lake City.
In a time when Native American lands were still in dispute and being taken and filled by outside settlers, the transcontinental railroad was being forged across 15 different native tribal regions. The steady migration of settlers and the construction of the railroad was devastating for people in the Central Plains as over-hunting of bison and loss of land impacted livelihoods and disrupted Native culture. Many different Great Plains tribes attacked the railroad construction crews and surveyors, hoping to put and end to this new expansion. Tensions intensified transitioning into a period of warfare across the Central Plains in Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota territories. Many settlers viewed the Plains Indians as obstacles to be removed and many of the Native American communities passed stories of incoming outsiders who were coming to steal, assault, and kill. Native peoples attempted to continue to keep with traditions such as food gathering through the 1860’s, but with the loss of land coupled with the completion of the railroad and influx of emigrants, attempts at retaining native culture and traditions became very difficult. Some Native families accepted allotments of land from the U.S. government, while others declined, instead turning to a promise to be taken care of by the (LDS) Church. Others chose to learn new ways to farm and ranch the land, or learned other trades. The advance of the the railroad was, in a way, an end of a culture of people who felt they had no control of their destiny, and a new beginning of a very different existence for those who chose to conform to survive.
As construction on both rail lines drew ever closer to completion, confidence in what had been accomplished and visions of a finish line inflated egos leading to an unbelievable wager. The Union Pacific laid claim to a single day track-laying record of seven and a half miles. This was a claim that General Superintendent of Central Pacific, Charles Crocker, couldn’t let stand uncontested. He countered that his crew could lay ten miles of track in one day, prompting a legendary $10,000 bet between the two rail company executives. In late April 1869, the Central Pacific railroad workers (mostly teams of Chinese and Irish laborers) bested the Union Pacific’s record for laying 10 miles and 56 feet of track in 12 hours at Rozel, Utah. Using 25,800 ties, 3,520 rails, 28,160 spikes and 14,080 bolts, the workers accomplished a feat of construction that has never been matched since. At the time, the San Francisco Bulletin called the feat “The greatest work in track laying ever accomplished or conceived by railroad men.”
The railroad was completed on May 10, 1869, when the final stake was driven and a 7-year dream of a transcontinental rail system in America became a reality. The railheads of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were conjoined at Promontory Summit, Utah, in a ceremony marked by the driving of a golden spike. During the ceremony, the Union Pacific No. 119 and Central Pacific No. 60 (Jupiter) engines were drawn together, separated only by width of one rail and christened with champagne.
Today, Promontory Summit is the home of the Golden Spike National Historic Monument, although this original junction point for the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads was moved to nearby Ogden in 1870.
After completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, a six month journey across the continent was cut down to 6 or 7 days and cost as little as $65 for a ticket from New York to San Francisco. Communities all along the rail line in the Western United States were forever changed, along with the direction of an entire nation.
The 150th anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year, with No. 4014 visiting many states across the Union Pacific system.