Steam, Trains, and Plains
My friend Kevin called me and told me to clear my schedule for April 2, because Union Pacific was running it’s 844 steam locomotive on an excursion train east from Cheyenne, WY. For more info on 844 click here. Needless to say, I was excited since I hadn’t had a train of any kind in my viewfinder since last August. We started the day early at 5:30am, headed north to Cheyenne to pick out our spot among the almost certain crowd of railfans that would be out and about chasing the same train. We reached a spot east of Cheyenne, known as Archer on railroad timetables. The wind was howling at around 25mph, and the temperature was hovering around the same number, causing the wind chill to be around 12. Kevin and I decided long ago that we would rather get a couple great shots, rather than a hundred crappy ones, so we walk the 1/2 mile down along the tracks to get a better view of the S-curve that was offered, leaving the others standing near the road overpass. While we were waiting for 844 to depart, there was no shortage of other trains to shoot during our wait. There was no question as to when 844 was leaving Cheyenne, the towering plume of smoke and steam was a bit of a clue. For an old steamer, this locomotive can haul! We left Archer, and headed east. The next place we caught up with it was at Pine Bluffs, WY nearly 42 miles to the east! Next stop was in Nebraska at a spot called Point of Rocks. Now, I learned quite quickly that places were named quite literally out here on the plains. After a short walk to a nice high vantage point, we waited in the wind and sleet for a few minutes until 844 passed us once again. The schedule had 844 stopping at Lodgepole, NE too take on water and for the crew grease up the running gear. This was where we let 844 continue on its way to point east, and ultimately Haringren, TX. We then explored the area of Sidney, NE where Union Pacific and BNSF mainlines cross and interchange. We chased a couple BNSF trains both northbound and southbound before heading back south to home. I gained a new appreciation and fascination with the Great Plains and hope to make more excursions myself. The land itself holds its own kind of grandeur, as well as a plethora of railroad history. Hope you enjoy the results of the day!