Historic train makes way to Phoenix for Centennial tourMarch 14, 2012
By: Deborah Stocks
PHOENIX – Arizonans can take a trip back in time as historic Union Pacific Steam Locomotive Engine No. 844 relives the Southern Arizona “Sunset Limited” route in recognition of Arizona’s 100 years of statehood.
The engine is made its entry into the state at Willcox on November 10 and headed westward to Tucson for close-up viewing, according to a news release from the Arizona Centennial Commission.
After its stop in Willcox, No. 844 traveled through Benson and Vail for “whistle stops” and arrived in Tucson for its first “display day” on Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The route takes the engine through Coolidge, Gilbert and Tempe before arriving for another “display day” in Phoenix on Sunday, November 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as Monday, November 14. The engine made a 1/2 hour stop in Tempe around 2:15 on Saturday.
From Phoenix, the engine makes its way back to its original route near Casa Grande, and continues west through Gila Bend, Wellton, and finally arrives in Yuma late in the afternoon on Tuesday, November 15, officials say.
“The adventures of steam locomotives captivate us even today. They literally blazed the trail westward. And, it’s exciting – for train enthusiasts and all of us — to catch a glimpse of the West as it was more than 100 years ago,” said Karen Churchard, executive director, Arizona Centennial Commission & 2012 Foundation.
According to the news release, “No. 844, also known as Union Pacific’s “Living Legend,” returned to service in 2005 after one of the most extensive steam locomotive overhauls in the United States since regular steam service ended. The work, which started in 2000, included overhauling the locomotive’s running gear, pumps, piping, valves and springs, along with replacement of its firebox and extensive boiler work. The cab interior also was refurbished. No. 844 was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad and was delivered in 1944. A passenger locomotive, it pulled such widely known trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger.”
One of the rail cars that travels with No. 844 has a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) transmitter integrated with a map at www.UP.com . Enter the word “Steam” in the search box on the homepage for a shortcut to the map.