One thing that was readily apparent when we started exploring Cheyenne, Wyoming was its railway history, specifically its Union Pacific heritage.
In 1865, what’s now Cheyenne was the campsite for the team charged with finding a route over the Laramie Mountains as part of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad project. As construction of the Union Pacific Railroad continued across Wyoming, the settlement became permanent and Cheyenne was incorporated in 1867.
One of the hallmarks of the downtown skyline today is the 1887 Union Pacific Depot – a National Historic Landmark and one of the last 19th century depots remaining on the transcontinental railroad. We have an awesome view of the depot from our mailbox, and we can hear the trains running on the dozens of tracks between our house and the depot at all hours of the day and night.
Brian signed me up for the Union Pacific Steam Club and let me know about an event they had shared with their Cheyenne-area members:
Union Pacific will be delivering a small portion of its heritage fleet that was donated to non-profit Railroading Heritage of Midwest America (RRHMA) in November.
The donated equipment, which includes Challenger No. 3985, TTT-6 No. 5511, Centennial No. 6936 and several passenger rail cars, will leave Union Pacific’s Steam Shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Nov. 11, and will make periodic maintenance stops along the way in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa. The donated locomotives will not be under power during this trip and will be pulled by diesel locomotives.
Union Pacific plays a leading role in preserving railroad history, and maintains the finest heritage fleet in the world, which includes the world’s largest steam locomotive, the Big Boy No. 4014, and the fastest steam locomotive, the Living Legend No. 844. Each year, Union Pacific proudly sponsors a steam tour, inviting communities and rail fans to whistlestops and displays across its 23-state network to celebrate Union Pacific’s rich heritage and learn about modern rail operations.https://www.up.com/heritage/steam/schedule/index.htm
I wasn’t sure exactly what time they were leaving so I left our house at 7:30 a.m. and headed for the depot.
Originally I was going to walk to the bridge and look over at the roundhouse and the departing engines and cars, but it was 9 degrees out! I decided to drive to the depot and then walk my bundled body up and over the bridge for a good view.
As it turned out, others had the same idea – there were dozens of people already stationed on the bridge, including a few news crews!
I joined their ranks and was able to quickly spot the Challenger No. 3985 and TTT-6 No. 5511, featured in the following photos. There was something else in front of the TTT-6 No. 5511, which might have been the third engine, but it was underneath the bridge so I couldn’t get a good look.
Although it was very cold, the sun was out and my coffee was hot – I was very comfortable just taking in the view. I stationed myself next to a guy with a scanner who was listening to the railroad employees below. It was helpful hearing them say what they were moving next and when things were departing so I could be on the lookout!
The engines pulled away just after 8 a.m. and then they focused on pulling the cars out of the roundhouse. While none of the donated items were moving under their own power, the cars looked to be in good shape!
Once the cars started to move so did I – making a quick detour to my favorite local breakfast spot, Mort’s Bagels, before heading home and starting my workday.
It was a fun albeit brisk morning and I look forward to learning more about Cheyenne’s railway heritage, visiting the depot museum, and eventually touring the Union Pacific steam shop in the months ahead!