Union Pacific’s historic steam locomotive, Northern type (4-8-4) No. 844, will travel more than 2,300 miles from its base in Wyoming on a 15-day, three-state tour to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate UP’s role in the building of the western United States.
The “Portland Rose Heritage Tour” began Sept. 8 when 844, one of the railroad industry’s most effective and popular public relations vehicles, departed Cheyenne, Wyo. The locomotive will make several overnight stops in cities in the region, among them a first-ever appearance at the Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Ore. The historic consist will stop in each of the following cities before arriving back in Cheyenne Sept. 23:
• Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs, and Green River, Wyo.
• Montpelier, Pocatello, Shoshone, Boise, and Nampa, Idaho.
• Huntington, La Grande, Hinkle, The Dalles, Portland, and Pendleton, Ore.
The tour was named after a UP passenger train that operated between Chicago and Portland, Ore., beginning in 1930. Known for its elegance, The Portland Rose was heralded as “A Triumph in Train Comfort.” The train had its own china pattern and specially decorated club observation car, the Portland Club. This car featured a radio, soda fountain, maid service, hairdresser, barber, valet, and bath. Through the Columbia River Gorge, between The Dalles and Portland, an open-top observation car was added on the rear of the train. In 1954, American Car & Foundry constructed a 44-seat coach car, No. 5473, named “The Portland Rose” which Union Pacific still owns today.
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 U.S. since regular steam service on linehaul railroads ended about 1960. 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 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. When diesel-electric locomotives took over all passenger train duties, 844 was placed in freight service in Nebraska between 1957 and 1959. It was saved from being scrapped in 1960 and held for special service. The locomotive has operated hundreds of thousands of miles for UP’s Heritage program. It has made appearances at Expo ’74 in Spokane, 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 the Los Angeles Union Station in 1989. During the 1990s, 844 pulled several of the Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days specials. It visited several Oklahoma cities during the Oklahoma Centennial in 2007.
“Since 1862, Union Pacific has been working to build America while connecting the communities that define it,” said Scott Moore, vice president of public affairs for Union Pacific’s Western Region. “No. 844 celebrates this historic connection to the past with our Portland Rose heritage tour, while reiterating the present and future importance of the Pacific Northwest.”
A GPS system installed on one of the Portland Rose Heritage Tour’s railcars has been integrated with a map on the UP website. Website visitors will be able to access route maps with varying amounts of detail. The GPS system will update the map every five minutes showing No. 844’s location. The map and other information on the tour cab be accessed at www.up.com/aboutup/special_trains/steam/trace.cfm.