Union Pacific train coming to townMarch 14, 2012
Train enthusiasts will have something to be thankful for this holiday season as the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific railroad will pull into Yuma at 599 S. Gila Street and be available for public viewing on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Steam Locomotive No. 844 is traveling on an Arizona Centennial Ceremonial Tour,” said AZ Centennial spokeswoman Cynthia Dunne. “The steam locomotive is the method that Union Pacific uses to celebrate a variety of events throughout the country.”
Stored in Cheyenne, Wyo., the steam locomotive will reprise the Sunset Route and travel through New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada to honor the integral part railroads played in the development of the Southwest.
“We could have had all the copper and all the other natural resources in the world, but it took the railroads to ship it out to where the buyers were,” Dunne said. “The railroad, in a way, gives us a chance to honor all our Arizona (institutions) like the military history, the history of our natural resources, the history of science … because they are all tied together.”
Often referred to as the “Living Legend,” the engine is acclaimed among railroad aficionados for its excursion runs, especially the fabled crossing of Sherman Hill between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyo.
Built in 1944, it is a high-speed passenger engine that pulled widely known trains such as the “Overland Limited,” “Portland Rose,” and the “Challenger” for 13 years.
The engine was placed in freight service in 1957 when diesel engines began pulling passenger trains.
In 1960, it avoided the scrap heap and was placed in special service.
Since then, it has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles as Union Pacific’s ambassador of goodwill.
It has appeared at the 1981 opening of the California State Railroad Museum, the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.
Darren DaRonco can be reached at (928) 539-6857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.