UP 844 headed for Home Plate

Rounding Third . . .

Abraham Lincoln’s vision to create a transcontinental railroad took shape when he signed the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862, creating Union Pacific. One of America’s iconic companies, Union Pacific celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2012 with celebrations across its 23-state system. No. 844 will be a part of many of those celebrations. Check out the Events page at up150.com for more information.

. . . and headed for . . .

Just 150 feet from the park is Union Pacific’s Home Plate, where baseball fans can explore the railroad’s iconic steam locomotive No. 844, E-9 locomotives and a fleet of historic heritage cars, including the Promontory. A Union Pacific 1962-vintage baggage car, the Promontory has been transformed into a state-of-the-art traveling museum with 13 large, dramatic graphics and the latest in interactive touch video screen technology.

Dates and times for the trips are in the Schedules.

UP 844 headed home

UP 844 departed Council Bluffs this morning on its way back to home base at Cheyenne, WY.

Presumably the crew will inspect the locomotive and make any adjustments necessary to ensure the locomotive is in top shape.

844 should be back in Omaha in mid-June for the College Baseball Championship.

Flat tire . . .

Update 2: Photos of 844 over a drop table in Georgetown, TX, can be seen here.

Update: On Thursday 844 moved from Hearne, TX to the Georgetown Railroad in Round Rock, TX, where its drivers will be dropped and shipped out for turning. Union Pacific has issued an update here. If all goes well 844 could resume its schedule in a few weeks, making it to the College Baseball Championship as scheduled.

(Original Post)

. . . and not the kind you can just air up.

The details are still unclear, and Union Pacific officials are only using the term ‘mechanical issues,’ but somehow UP 844 ended up with flat spots on its drivers on the road between Texarkana, AR and Hearne, TX on Sunday.

The steam crew apparently made efforts to mitigate the flat spots by grinding them during an extended stop in Mount Pleasant, TX, and the train continued south Monday at reduced speed, tying up at Corsicana. (Interestingly, UP1982, the Missouri Pacific heritage unit in 844’s consist, has been removed from the train.)

UP has issued a media advisory indicating that 844 has been ‘sidelined,’ but there is still no official word on whether 844 will ‘limp home’ to Cheyenne (where the drivers could be dropped and sent to the Strasburg Rail Road for reprofiling), whether the drivers can be removed somewhere in Texas, or whether additional temporary repairs will be tried.

There are reports that 844 will move from Corsicana to Hearne today.

We’ll post an update when we have more information.

Ken Fitzgerald is following the train and posting videos here.

UP (and now SP) Steam goes Web 2.0

UPDATE 2: Now UP 844 is posting pictures of itself.

UPDATE: another big celebrity signs up in preparation for Transcontinental tweeting. We’ve added it to the SteamCentral FriendFeed, where you can get everything in one RSS feed.

The relaunch of SteamCentral last year was an outgrowth of my interest in and work with Web 2.0 social networking tools. In fact, I use SteamCentral.com as a demo when I give my Social Networking 101 presentation.

I’ve got a new example. Union Pacific’s steam team has created a Twitter feed tweeting 844’s location, and linking to its GPS track. We’ve added the feed to the SteamCentral FriendFeed. Read more about Twitter, FriendFeed, and RSS here.

844 is not the first steam locomotive to have its own Twitter account, however – that honor probably goes to Nickel Plate 765. And, of course, SteamCentral has had its own feed for almost a year.

If you’re one of the people who’ve heard of Twitter but haven’t created an account, let me suggest you try it. One of the many advantages Twitter offers is its ability to connect text messaging to the web, and to allow broadcast updates. Imagine chasing SP 4449 as it travels to Train Festival and getting regular updates – locations, expected delays, etc. – on your cell phone.

Check out our Links for more Twitter feeds to follow.

Steam locomotive operators might be able to use Twitter to generate revenue – offering a “protected feed” to donors.

Congratulation to the UP steam program for adding this feature. What’s next – separate feeds for 844 and 3985? A UP Steam Facebook page? (Personally, I’d pay good money to see Steve Lee doing his rendition of Earl Pitts on Twitter.)

Are you aware of any other steam operators using Web 2.0 tools? For example, Lake Superior Railroad Museum maintains a Google Calendar. Post your examples in the comments.