In April 2009, Union Pacific sent its goodwill ambassador, steam locomotive 844, on a 32-day excursion to help celebrate several Western railroading events. Leading its handsome, matched set of vintage passenger cars, the venerable 4-8-4 powered its train over Donner Pass on the westbound leg of its “Western Heritage Tour” from Cheyenne, Wyoming to California’s Bay Area, and through the Feather River Canyon on the eastbound trek home, encountering both sparkling blue skies and snow storms during its journey. Pentrex joined the train in Nevada to bring you the excitement of both mountain crossings as the train made its way to the City of Roseville Centennial and the Western Pacific Centennial at Portola. Gorgeous weather just outside Elko, Nevada, turns into a spring snowstorm as the train works its way toward Donner Pass.
You’ll see incredible images of steam clouds billowing against falling snow. While at Elko, you’ll spot a WP GP-9 on display. After the big Northern is serviced at Winnemucca, it heads out to Sparks where Heritage Units 1996 and 1983 will join it for the trip over Donner. An exciting pacing sequence along Highway 80 and a majestic shot of the train crossing Donner highlight the run to Roseville. Included among the treats in store for you on the return trip to Portola and through the Feather River Canyon are images captured at Milepost 191.6, Oroville, the horseshoe curve at James, Portola, and more.
Lots of traffic covers these rails so you’ll also see UP freights, SW1200 switching on the Quincy Railroad, a rail grinder, a westbound BNSF freight coming off the Highline at Keddie Wye, and a stack train at Williams Loop. But the star of this show is UP 844, the oldest steam locomotive in continual service, a powerhouse testament to the glory days of steam, and the pride of the Union Pacific as it leads the UP 844 Western Heritage Tour.