Posts Tagged ‘steam locomotive excursions’

UP Big Boy to Pull Public Excursion in July

May 25, 2019

Union Pacific has announced that it will operate a one-way excursion to Iowa of its famed Big Boy steam locomotive in July.

Passengers will ride behind the 4-8-8-4 from Omaha, Nebraska, to Boone, Iowa, and return to Omaha aboard chartered buses.

The excursion is a fundraising event for the Union Pacific Museum.

Tickets range from $400 to $750 and go on sale on May 28.

Upon arrival in Boone, passengers will have the opportunity to attend the city’s Railroad Days festival free of charge.

Additional information is available on the Union Pacific Museum’s website at while ticket information is available at

Police Will be Watching Big Boy Chasers

April 7, 2019

Police are warning chasers of Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 not to park along Interstate highways and to avoid blocking roads.

Trains magazine reported that the Utah Highway Patrol plans to have additional officers on Interstates 84 and 80.

The patrol said troopers will focus on photographers causing hazards by blocking Interstate highway traffic.

State laws in Utah and Wyoming ban parking on limited access highways from fence to fence.

Wyoming officials told the magazine that although they are not planning additional targeted patrols, they will watch for parking on interstate highways and controlled access roads that run parallel to the UP mainline.

“There are enough side roads along the railroad’s right-of-way so photographers and videographers should be able to safely and legally park to get their shots,” said Sgt. Romig of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Michigan Group Buys Pacific Parlor Cars

March 22, 2019

A Michigan museum and excursion operator has acquired two passenger cars once used as first-class lounges on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.

Trains magazine reported this week that the Steam Railroading Institute of Owosso, Michigan, bought the former Pacific Parlour Cars, which had been built by Budd in 1956 for the Santa Fe as Hi-Level lounges.

SRI plans to use the car on excursion trains, including its annual North Pole Express holiday trips pulled by 2-8-4 No. 1225, a former Pere Marquette Berkshire-type locomotive.

The cars were reported to be located at Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis, but are expected to be ferried to Michigan soon.

Trains said that SRI officials would not discuss how much the cars cost other than to say the price tag was fairly high.

SRI officials expect to recoup its investment through ticket sales of Christmas season trips.

The cars are also expected to be assigned to fall foliage specials operating on State of Michigan-own track between Mount Pleasant and Cadillac in early October.

Few changes to the interiors of the cars are expected to be made for now, but officials said the lower-level theater seating might be replaced by washrooms, wheelchair accommodations, coach seating or other uses.

The upper lounge and dining seating upstairs will be used to offer catered meal service.

Denver-Cheyenne Steam Train Discontinued

January 22, 2019

It could be a bump in the road or a harbinger of things to come but the The Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days Train has been discontinued.

It was the last annual steam-powered mainline excursion train in the United States.

The cancellation might have more to do with the financial woes of the sponsoring newspaper or it could be a sign that Union Pacific is scaling back its steam operations.

The Post has in recent years dramatically cut back its staff, drawing howls of protest from journalists, including those working for the Post.

In an interview with a Trains magazine correspondent a top-ranking UP executive said the future of the railroad’s steam program has yet to be determined beyond this year.

In an announcement posted on its website, the Post said, “While we have enjoyed our partnership with Union Pacific, due to the company’s utilization of its historic rail cars in 2019 and beyond, The Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days Train will no longer operate. On behalf of The Denver Post and The Denver Post Community Foundation, we thank you for your past support and participation and hope we have an opportunity for continued support in the future.”

The rodeo train dates to the early 1900s and at one point the operators of the train had to conduct a lottery to accommodate ticket demand.

UP plans to operates its steam locomotive fleet this year, including the newly restored 4-8-8-4 Big Boy No. 4014.

Those locomotives are expected to operate in May during the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Steam Excursions: Iowa Interstate to Run Steam in 2019, UP Might Continue Steam Program Beyond Next Year

December 4, 2018

The Iowa Interstate has announced that it will operate steam excursions in 2019 to benefit an Iowa volunteer fire department in Menlo.

The Iowa excursions will run on June 29 and are expected to be pulled by QJ-type 2-10-2 No. 6988.

The parent company of the regional railroad, Railroad Development Corporation, owns two Chinese-built steamers, neither of which has operated since 2012.

Iowa Interstate also has said there will be a second QJ operation next summer.
Tickets are priced at $14 for adults, $7 for children 12 and under and can be purchased by calling 641-524-536 or writing to Train Ride, 517 7th Street, Menlo, Iowa, 50164.

In related development, Union Pacific’s CEO has signaled that although the future of his railroad’s steam program is uncertain, it may continue it beyond 2019.

“We’re not sure. But right now, nothing,” Lance Fritz told Trains magazine when asked about the future of the program.

Fritz noted UP will operate several steam trips in 2019. “After that, there’s no sacred cow but I don’t have any plan to do anything different than what we’re doing right now,” he said.

Questions about the programs future have arisen because the railroad is seeking to reduce its expenses and is shifting operating to the precision scheduled railroading model.
Fritz acknowledged the steam program generates a lot of positive attention for the railroad but much of it comes from railfans.

“The question is: Is that a big value add versus what’s required to maintain it. It’s not that big of an asset burden. So it’s not like the math is complex. But we’re not even worried about that math right now. For 2019 we’ve got a big program.”