A historic steam locomotive that’s dubbed a “Living Legend” will be chugging into southwest Iowa next week.
Union Pacific’s Number 844 is due to arrive in Council Bluffs on Monday after a two-day trek across the rails from Wyoming.
UP spokeswoman Calli Hite says the showpiece attracts crowds of admirers — young and old — wherever it stops.
“This engine was built in 1944 and it pulled a variety of trains, mostly passenger trains, around the Union Pacific system before it was retired,” Hite says. “It was restored and brought back into service last year.”
While steam engines were once the fastest way to travel by land, very few working locomotives of this type still exist today, let alone people who know how to fix and operate them.
“844 underwent an extensive overhaul for three years,” Hite says. “We replaced the boiler and we made new parts. Pretty much, the whole thing was taken apart and put back together. All of that work was done by a team of about 12 people in Cheyenne, Wyoming.”
Since being given new life, the engine has run hundreds of thousands of miles as the UP’s ambassador of goodwill.
Late next week, it will chug back across the Missouri River bridge into Omaha, where it will be showcased for many thousands of fans attending the College World Series.
“It will be on display for 12 days at Union Pacific’s Home Plate which is just catty-corner from TD Ameritrade Park/Omaha,” Hite says. “The steam engine is going to be parked there on public display from Friday, June 16th through Tuesday, June 27th.”
Number 844 is the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific. It was considered a high-speed passenger engine and it pulled several popular trains, including the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger.