|Last Update: July 25, 2005
|The Union Pacific Challenger is a unique steam engine in many ways. First and foremost, it is the largest and most powerful
operating steam locomotive in the world that is still operational. The Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotives are larger, but
none are currently operational. Second, it’s one of very few steam engines still operated by the same company that ordered
it almost 65 years ago, the Union Pacific Railroad.
Built at the height of World War Two, in 1943 by the American Locomotive Company, it was one of 105 Challenger type
locomotives ordered by the Union Pacific between 1936 and 1943.
3985 was mostly assigned to heavy freight duties during it’s early career, although it did occasionally pull passenger trains.
By 1957, regular steam on the Union Pacific, as well most other railroads were in their final days. Within a few years, the
3985 was retired in 1962.
3985 is not the last Challenger. One other, 3977, still exists, but is only on display in North Platte, Nebraska.
For approximately 13 years, the 3985 remained in storage at the Cheyenne, Wyoming Union Pacific roundhouse. In 1975 it
was placed on display near the Cheyenne depot. But things were change for the 3985 when Union Pacific employees
offered their free time to restore the locomotive back to active service. She ran again under her own power in 1981.
Ever since, the 3985 has run special excursions around the country. The 3985 was originally a coal burning engine and
when restored, was left that way. But it found to be difficult to fuel the locomotive when on excursions in parts of the country
that didn’t have coal readily available. So, in 1990, she was converted to burn No. 5 oil instead.
In September, 2005, the 3985 made another multi-state excursion, making numerous stops along the Union Pacific lines.
They included, among others, Portland, Oregon, where I was able to view the locomotive on display at the Union Pacific
Within a few days, it was on it’s way to it’s next in Idaho and then eventually back to Wyoming.
|These photos are courtesy of Ellen Gerig and were taken chasing the 3985 between Harriburg and Albany, Oregon as it
made it's way from California to the Albina Yard in Portland, Oregon.
|I took these photos in September, 2005 when the 3985 visited the Union Pacific Albina Yard in
|If anyone has any further information on any of the above railroad that you'd like to share, you
can Email me anytime. Thanks.
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|Copyright © 2005, 2006 Brian McCamish, All Rights Reserved
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