Attention, railroad enthusiasts.
All six of Union Pacific's heritage series units will be on display this weekend at Rail Fest, an annual celebration of railroad history in North Platte, Neb., home to U.P.'s Bailey Yard, the world's largest railroad yard.
It's the first public display of all six heritage series locomotives, U.P. spokesman Mark Davis said. The locomotives were together once before in 2007 while passing through Salt Lake City but were not presented to the public.
The heritage series display was organized by U.P.'s North Platte team in honor of the company's 150th anniversary. U.P. employs 2,500 employees with an annual payroll of about $164 million in North Platte.
“Everyone in North Platte wanted to try to provide the most diverse experience of our company in helping to celebrate 150 years,” Davis said. “One aspect of that would be the complete display of our heritage locomotives.”
The first two locomotives in the series were introduced in July 2005 in Omaha. The series marked only the fifth time in U.P.'s history that the company painted locomotives a color different from its signature “armour yellow” scheme.
The first custom-painted locomotive was introduced in 1991 to honor U.P. employees serving in the Persian Gulf War. Others that followed include a locomotive painted to call attention to a United Way campaign in 1994 and two locomotives painted to commemorate Olympics held on U.S. soil in 1996 and 2002.
Each of the heritage locomotives represents one of the six major railroads that have merged with U.P.:
>> The two-tone blue Missouri Pacific locomotive with a buzz saw logo signifies the merging of Missouri Pacific Railroad, which more than doubled U.P.'s route miles.
>> The green and orange Western Pacific locomotive represents the former Western Pacific Railroad, which gave U.P. access to the ports of San Francisco and Oakland.
>> The Missouri-Kansas-Texas locomotive, also known as “the Katy,” is red and maroon, and honors the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad that led U.P. to Texas and through Oklahoma.
>> The green and yellow Chicago & North Western locomotive represents the railroad that gave U.P. a presence in Chicago and opened a connector line to coal fields in Wyoming's Powder River Basin.
>> The Southern Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande locomotives signify the railroads that provided a route through Colorado and created the Sunset Route. The Denver & Rio Grande locomotive is silver, yellow and black.
>> The Southern Pacific, the final locomotive of the heritage series, is red, orange, white and black, and was inspired by the railroad's “Daylight” trains, once referred to as one of “The Most Beautiful Trains in the World” by Southern Pacific Railroad.
All are working locomotives that are based across the country, Davis said. To be part of the North Platte display, the Missouri Pacific traveled from East St. Louis, Ill.; the Western Pacific from Nampa, Idaho; the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) from North Little Rock, Ark.; the Chicago & North Western from Boone, Iowa; Southern Pacific from Houston; and Denver & Rio Grande from Los Angeles.
“Bringing all of the heritage locomotives together represents the makeup of today's Union Pacific,” Davis said.
Connecting U.P.'s past and present at Rail Fest, which is expected to attract up to 15,000 people, is an honor for North Platte, said Dave Harrold, chairman of the celebration. U.P. and its employees play and have played a major role in the development of North Platte, he said.
“We're trying to celebrate North Platte's history, which is Western and railroad heritage.”
What: Annual celebration of North Platte's railroad heritage, including this year's 150th anniversary of Union Pacific Railroad. Includes carnival rides and games; performances by artists; food and craft vendors; and rail tours. On display will be U.P.'s heritage locomotive series; U.P.'s No. 844, a steam locomotive dating from the 1940s; and the Promontory, the company's interactive car.
Where: Cody Park is main site; free shuttles available; area parking lots. Buses at the park will take visitors to Bailey Yard for tours. Tickets available at the park to reserve tour bus seats, which are free.
When: Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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