Steam locomotives were the threshold of a new beginning. The very first steam locomotives were small and completely different in looks from those still in existence today. Many of these contraptions became famous and are still famous in the world of trains today. One of these famous locomotives was known as the "Rocket". Soon, as steam locomotives begun to take on their familiar shape, they were soon traveling across the country, faster than covered wagons, making them obsolete. The famous event that started this form of cross-country travel was the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The famous quote that came during the construction says "10 miles of track layed in one day". Considering the chinese workers that built the railroad using only picks, shovels, and axes, this was an amazing feat! Later in the 19th century (around 1940) steam locomotives begun to take on their familiar shape and continued to grow larger in size. This page honors some of the most famous steam locomotives from the 1940s to the present days.
Video of UP #844.
Union Pacific's "FEF-4" Class steam locomotive #844 is a historic icon in the world of trains. It has a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement and was 1 of 10 FEF-4 locomotives to be purchased by UP back in 1944. #844 is unique because, along with UP's "Challenger" locomotives, it is the only steam locomotive never retired from service by a Class I Railroad. In its early days, #844 pulled passenger trains like the Overland Flyer, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose, and the Challenger. #844 was reassigned to freight service from 1957 to 1959 in Nebraska. It was saved from being scrapped in 1960 and continues to operate today.
SP #4449 is probably one of the last surviving Southern Pacific steam locomotives. It is a streamlined locomotive with a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement like UP #844 (above). Built in May 1941, #4449 operated in regular service in California. The red and orange passenger trains it hauled for most of its service career gave it the nickname "Daylight". The Daylight was retired from regular service in 1957 and put on display in Portland, Oregon where it remained until 1974. It was later restored to operation for use on the second "American Freedom Train" and continued to operate after that. #4449 still operates to this day. As a tribute to this historic locomotive, Union Pacific brought back the famous SP Daylight paint scheme with its SD70ACe "heritage unit" locomotive #1996, which is painted with these colors.
UP #3985 is one of the more larger steam locomotives, having a 4-6-6-4 wheel arrangement. It is what railroad enthusiests call a "Challenger" (maybe because of its power and size). The initial purpose of the Challenger class was to speed up freight operations east and west of the Wasatch grades in Utah and western Wyoming. UP 3985 operated in its last "regular" train service in 1957. The locomotive was retired about 1962 and after many years of storage in a roundhouse at Cheyenne, Wyoming, UP 3985 was placed on an outdoor display beside the Cheyenne depot in 1975. Beginning in 1979 a group of Union Pacific employee-volunteers started work on restoring the locomotive, and it was returned to operational condition in 1981. Originally a coal-burner, #3985 was converted to an oil-burner in 1990 to prevent trackside grassfires. Today, #3985 is used for excursion trains and occasionally mainline freight on ferry moves. It was in the maintenance shop at Cheyenne in 2007 and underwent necessary repairs for service in 2008. It is now back up and running as of 2008. It is one of only two of the original 105 Union Pacific "Challenger" locomotives in existence, the other being UP 3977 on static display in North Platte, Nebraska.