Historic locomotive passing through town Thursday

By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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A “Living Legend” is making its way to California this week, on its way to Old Sacramento where Union Pacific Railroad will continue its yearlong 150th anniversary celebration with a huge, two-day event Sept. 29-30. Steam Locomotive No. 844 is scheduled to make a stop at the Colfax Passenger Depot from 12:55 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, before heading at 50 MPH to Sacramento.

Train enthusiasts can track the engine's progress as it makes its way to Sacramento via a GPS feature.

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

The steam engine is also known 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. In June 1989, after the diesel was retired, the steam engine regained its No. 844 number.

When diesels took over all of 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.

Hailed as Union Pacific's "Living Legend," the engine is Union Pacific’s ambassador of goodwill, including making an appearance during the 1981 opening of the California Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.

This year’s free Sacramento event will commemorate 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln created the original Union Pacific by signing the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862.

"Union Pacific's 150th anniversary gives us a special chance to celebrate our historic past with the communities that are most important to our future," said Scott Moore, Union Pacific vice president, public affairs – Western Region. "We are proud to celebrate 150 years of innovation and building America with a signature event in Old Sacramento with its fascinating past rich in the history and heritage of the West."

In addition to steam engine No. 844, a variety of other locomotives and equipment will be on special display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday in Old Sacramento. There will be complimentary entrance all weekend long to the California State Railroad Museum.

Other highlights will include a baggage car that has been retrofitted into a state-of-the-art traveling museum, history-rich passenger cars and equipment, modern UP police and maintenance vehicles, and a recently launched UP locomotive that reduces emissions and provides a glimpse into the future of railroading. There will also be free weekend excursion train rides on the Sacramento Southern Railroad, based on availability. A variety of staged and living history performances will also take place throughout the event.