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Union Pacific 3985 over the Sidney and Yoder Subdivisions. Not! But instead.....

by Chris Guenzler

I got my idea for taking this Union Pacific Steam trip right off the Trainorders home page as there was a link to the Sherman Hill Railroad Club that was putting on the trip. As soon as I saw my check had been cashed I started working on getting there at a cheap price. Mike of AAA had quoted me a rate of $345 but when he went to book it suddenly it was $545. Not wanting to pay that much I went to and put in a bid of $180. Their price from Orange County was $325 but if I bid $222 they could get me a flight from LAX. I bid that and got my flight for $214. Mike set up my Hertz rental car and I set up my hotel for two nights at the Express Inn. I set this all up in May and then just had to live until departure day.

A little bit of history is now in order. The line east of Cheyenne was built in 1867 and the second mainline was completed in 1917. The western portion of what became the North Platte Cut-Off was built from Yoder 62.7 miles to Egbert in 1928. The line was built with heavy steel and a good roadbed so that it could be used when a derailment or track damage on the mainline between Egbert and North Platte would result in rerouting trains over the whole Cut-Off. The construction was the last major railroad construction on the UP Nebraska Division.

To LAX by Rail 7/11/2003

The day finally arrived and after packing along with still pecking the NRHS 2003 Story into the computer, I was taken down to the Santa Ana Amtrak Station. Amtrak 763 came in right on time and I sat in the cab car of this Surfliner train. I labeled slide box number 1 from the Baltimore Trip and was done by Fullerton. I relaxed the rest of the way to Los Angeles which we arrived at 8:48 AM. I detrained and headed straight to a waiting Red Line Train that took me to 7th and Flower where I went upstairs to the Blue Line Station where a train to Del Almo pulled in. Five minutes later we were off south down the inbound track. We stopped at the Pico Stop and picked up a whole southbound train load of passengers as service on the outbound track had been suspended due to an accident on Washington Boulevard which we passed a few miles later. A car tried to make a left hand turn in front of the LRV and lost badly. After the Washington Stop we crossed over to the normal track. At Slauson Station we had door problems which cost us twelve minutes so it was a slow trek to Rosa Park.

I went upstairs to the Green Line and waited 8 minutes for a westbound train that took me to the Aviation Station which we arrived at 10:15 AM. I went downstairs to wait for the Green Line Shuttle that pulled up at 10:18 AM. The Shuttle took me to Terminal 5. Since I had gone to Delta's Web Site to print my boarding pass, I went straight to Security in less than five minutes and was seated at the Gate at 10:50 AM for my 1:00 PM flight to Salt Lake City. I visited McDonald's for fries and a chocolate shake then labeled Boxes 2 and 3 of my NRHS Trip.

Delta Airlines Flight 2066 7/11/2003

My seat was 43F so I boarded twenty five minutes early which meant I labeled Box 4 while waiting for departure. The plane for this leg was to Salt Lake City was a B-757. We left the gate right on time and taxied out to the east end. We had an All Nippon Airways Jet in front of us before we left and took off at 1:13 PM. We took off flying out over Santa Monica Bay before banking to the left and heading over the airport northeast. The inflight program was an episode of NBC's Friends. About twenty five minutes from Salt Lake City it turned into the bumpiest and roughest flight I have ever taken to this point. Thoughts of my own death crossed my mind and you could see it on the other passengers faces. The plane touched down at 3:35 PM and I was glad to be back on mother earth. We came into Gate D1 and from there I went to Gate D5 for my next flight.

Delta Airlines Flight 1047 7/11/2003

I stopped for a bathroom break and to buy some Utah Post Cards for my Classroom Fifty State Post Card Wall. They started boarding this plane at 4:00 PM and I was boarded 4:04 PM onto the MD-90 taking seat 25A before labeling Box 5 finishing right before we left the gate on time. We left the ground at 4:45 PM and we climbed north as I saw the railroad crossing of the Great Salt Lake I once rode over on the San Francisco Zephyr before we turned east with Ogden below. I managed to get Box 6 labeled on a much smoother flight until we started our descent into Denver where we got bumpy again but not as bad as on that other flight. We touched down at 5:43 PM with me very happy to be back on the ground.

To Cheyenne 7/11/2003

I took "The Train" to the Terminal finding the Hertz Center then I was taken by bus out to their facility. Once I got my Cavalier, I headed north taking a Toll Road paying $1.75 twice to reach Interstate 25 which I took to Cheyenne. I checked into the Express Inn before going to Arby's for some dinner and a gift shop for some Wyoming Post Cards. I returned to my room, called home, watched the Weather Channel's "Storm Watch" before calling it a night.

Union Pacific 3985 Cheyenne to Yoder Not! 7/12/2003

Up early for a great day of steam train riding. I walked over to the Village Inn for a Belgium Waffle and a side of Bacon. I stopped by a Texaco for some Coca-Cola before parking north of the depot. I checked in and received a statement from the Union Pacific Railroad. They had parked coal trains on the Yoder Line and we could not be going that way so we would be going to Laramie instead. Well that was a bummer but any day on a Union Pacific Steam Train is a great day no matter where you go. Time to change the name of this story. I went up to the bridge over the yard to photograph the depot plus some passing UP freights. It also gave me a distant view of the Union Pacific Challenger 3985 and of our train being put together. After about an hour I went back to get in the boarding line.

It also gave me a distant view of the Union Pacific Challenger 3985 and of our train being put together. After about an hour I went back to get in the boarding line.

Union Pacific 3985 Cheyenne to Laramie 7/12/2003

The consist of our train today was Union Pacific 4-6-6-4 Challenger 3985, two ex Gas Turbine Tenders now water cars 809 and 814, Art Lockman tool car, City of San Francisco dome obs, Colorado Eagle dome, 207 HEP power car, dome coaches Missouri River, Challenger and Columbine, Council Bluffs baggage, coaches Katy Flyer, Sunshine Special, City of Salina, Portland Rose and Texas Eagle, Sherman Hill concession car and Howard Fogg boiler/dorm . The consist is backwards as it was set up to go to Yoder. The Sherman Hill Model Railroad Club got a call from the UP at 10:00 AM yesterday that they could not run the trip to Yoder and that the trip would have to be to Laramie. I give great credit to both the Union Pacific Steam Program and the Sherman Hill Model Railroad Club that this trip still was taking place.

At 8:30 AM the Challenger backed onto the consist. At 8:40 AM the Union Pacific 3985 took off to the west end to wait for a passing freight to clear with a DODX Caboose. The Challenger backed the train down track number 1 to the depot at 9:05 AM then I took my coach seat in the rear coach section of the Columbine Dome with all seats on the train facing backwards. I took a south side large window seat. I labeled box number 7 as we left at 9:30 AM as I finished the final slide as we neared the Colorado and Southern Bridge. I rode in the vestibule taking pictures as we headed to Speer. Rumor on the train was that they were going to wye the train at Speer but we high balled through Speer. We headed up the number 3 track to Emkay as a freight was in the siding. Sherman Hill is green from the late spring rains they had here. We made our way to Lynch as the hills started to have pine trees on them before we proceeded to Laramie. The chasers all found out that we were going to Laramie as they were out in force. Before Perkins we did a double Photo Runby.

The first runby was a wedge shot to try to keep people out of my shot. There was no photo line organization so I went to the front of the line getting the Union Pacific 3985 coming out from behind the trees.

The Union Pacific 3985 headed west though Perkins and the geology became more impressive with the rock out cropping.

Just before Dale we stopped for our next Photo Runby.

A freight train came from the west on number one main making for an interesting view. There was no photo organization here either and they even let a lady get right in everyone's pictures as she stood down by the tracks in front of 75 photographers.

I reboarded the train at the Texas Eagle to visit the Sherman Hill before walking through the train to my seat. We returned to the train as another eastbound UP freight headed up the old line to Sherman. We left Dale and proceeded through the Hermosa Tunnels. At Hermosa we took the Number three track through Red Buttes to Laramie. Bob Butler of Cle Elum, Washington let me use his cell phone to call Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio show. The connection was poor but Richard got his first call ever from a Steam Train. We pulled into Laramie into the yard at 12:50 PM to the west side so the Union Pacific 3985 would have access to the wye.

We detrained at Laramie and waited for the wyeing move of the Union Pacific 3985. The Union Pacific 3985 was serviced and I got a chance to say Hello to Lynn Nystrom and Steve Lee of the UP Steam Crew. About 1:35 the Union Pacific 3985 started backing around the wye with me taking pictures.

After a throw of a switch, the Union Pacific 3985 pulled forward.

While the Union Pacific 3985 was getting to the front of our train, I went inside the rear car which was the City of San Francisco for a quick tour before walking through the train back to my seat. At 2:00 PM we started back to Cheyenne but had to wait on orders. We then headed out but the dispatcher had us routed on number one track to Hermosa but we needed to be on number 2 track to unload on the sunny side. We backed into the yard to wait for new orders and at 3:02 PM we headed out of Laramie for good up the number 2 track. We climbed the western flank of Sherman Hill through Forelle to Colores. Here we stopped to do a double Photo Runby. Once again no proper photo line was established as there was no organization but the lighting was perfect.

A UP Stack Train roared up track 1 with me using up the rest of my film so the next runby would be on a new roll.

Horror of horrors! I had picked up a used roll of film out of my camera bags instead of a fresh one. Well this became the first UP Steam runby that I just watched and it was a beautiful sight. We headed up to Hermosa where we crossed over to the number one track then headed into the Hermosa Tunnel. The Union Pacific 3985 steamed through Dale as I went to the vestibule for some pictures on the curves as we climbed to Sherman and dropped beyond. I shot a picture of the Sherman Hill Highest Point on the Union Pacific sign before we started down the eastern flank towards Cheyenne. We made our ways through the curves to short of Burford where we did our last double Photo Runby of the trip. I climbed up the rocks as did all the other great photographers and this time there was no way anyone could get in our way this time. This Photo Runby was done in great light.

I relocated to a lower position on the rocks for the second Photo Runby.

Back on the move again, the Burford Ballast Pits are no more and dropped a female passenger at the grade crossing. The dispatcher gave us a red signal for not reporting our hot boxes the detectors called out but we had orders to ignore all of them. The rest of the trip to Cheyenne was relaxing and it was interesting watching the people taking the pictures of our train. Going though Borie I was interested to see what was left of the Amtrak stop that was once here when I paused here on the Pioneer and once on the San Francisco Zephyr. We slowly followed that freight that we had the runby of back at Colores so we stopped and rolled the rest of the way into Cheyenne. Slowly but surely we arrived back to the Cheyenne Depot at 6:40 PM ending a great day of UP Steam. Special thanks again to the UP Steam Crew and the Sherman Hill Model Railroad Club for an excellent trip and pulling it off.

I was first off the train and out of the parking lot going straight to Arby's to pick up dinner. Back at the hotel I made a few phone calls and relaxed before calling it a night.

The Return Home 7/13/2003

After I enjoyed a continental breakfast, I drove back to the Denver Airport, gassed up the car and returned it to Hertz. The Shuttle dropped me off at Delta Ticketing where I used a ticketing machine to get my boarding pass. Security took less than ten minutes then I took the train to Terminal C, bought some post cards and arrived at my gate at 9:15 AM for my 12:30 PM flight. Some Jethro Tull on my headphones killed most of that time.

Delta Airlines Flight 1411 7/13/2003

I boarded seat 19A over the wing on this B-737-800 plane. We left the gate on time and took off at 12:45 with me listening to Crucial Rock hosted by Nikki Six of Motley Crue. It was a bumpy climb out of Denver something I will never get used to. The rock n roll got me to Salt Lake City. We touched down at 1:43 PM before we taxied to C-12. My connecting flight was scheduled for D6 which meant a nice slow walk over to the D Terminal with a stop for a Roast Beef Sandwich on the way there. I sat near D6 at 2:13 PM for my 4:20 PM Flight. I called Bruce up in Idaho to catch up with him during my wait.

Delta Airline Flight 396 7/13/2003

I boarded the B-757 and took an aisle seat 42c at 3:56 PM. I listened to Funk up rock as we took off at 4:31 PM. A piece by Parliament called "Give up the Funk {Tear the roof off Sucker}" took me almost to cruising level. The inflight program was John Ritter {formerly of Three Company} new comedy. From my aisle seat I looked out at the right time to see Lake Mead and the Kelso Sand Dunes. We touched down at LAX at 4:56 PM and taxied to Gate 50B.

On to home 7/13/2003

Once I got off the plane, I called Jeff and he would meet me at 6:22 PM at the Norwalk Green Line Station. I made my way out in front of Terminal 5 and flagged down the Green Line Shuttle which got me to the aviation Station at 5:32 PM, The train came at 5:40 PM and I listened to more Jethro Tull arriving at Norwalk at 6:04 PM. After I couple of pictures I waited for Jeff as I had arrived 15 minutes earlier than I had planned. Jeff showed up at 6:22 PM and I was home by 6:53 PM ending another exciting Union Pacific Steam Trip.