Friday, October 7, 2016

‘Living Legend’ Engine Will Steam Through County

Train buffs will have the chance to see a “Living Legend” this month when Union Pacific’s No. 844 steams through the county.

Union Pacific's “Living Legend” No. 844 steam locomotive will travel more than 1,200 miles one-way to celebrate the Oct. 22 opening of Big River Crossing in Memphis, Tenn. The trek is the first multi-state venture since the locomotive's three-year restoration.

No. 844 will traverse Union Pacific's main line through Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee beginning Oct. 13. Brief stops are scheduled throughout the 19-day roundtrip journey.

The 72-year-old engine will be steaming through Sequoyah County on Oct. 26 and will stop for about 15 minutes at the Elm Street Crossing in Sallisaw.

No. 844 will spend the night before in Van Buren and will go on to Wagoner, Claremore and Nowata before entering Kansas.

Steam locomotive No. 844 is the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad. It was delivered in 1944. A high-speed passenger engine, it pulled such widely known trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger.

Many people know the engine as the No. 8444, since an extra 4 was added to its number in 1962 to distinguish it from a diesel numbered in the 800 series. The steam engine regained its rightful number in June 1989, after the diesel was retired.

When diesels took over all the passenger train duties, No. 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 engine has run hundreds of thousands of miles as Union Pacific’s ambassador of goodwill. 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 Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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