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'Living legend' locomotive making stop in Colfax

No. 844 on Western Heritage Tour
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Thousands of individuals will have the chance to see a “living legend” when Union Pacific’s historic steam locomotive, No. 844, travels from its base in Wyoming, to California on a 32-day, four-state tour. The “Western Heritage Tour” started Saturday and will roll through May 12, heading through many cities and towns that witnessed the birth of the railroad, including a brief stop in Colfax. The 844 will be on public display in Sparks, Nev. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. It will head over the summit on Friday, leaving Norden at 11:30 a.m. and arriving in downtown Colfax between noon and 1 p.m. Current plans are for the 844 to stop in town for approximately 15 minutes. Members of the Placer Sierra Railroad Heritage Society will have an information table set up in Roy Toms Plaza. The historic caboose will also be open so residents can check out the restoration work underway. According to Jim Wood, members will also be in contact with the train’s crew and will have information on the scheduled arrival time. The historic steam locomotive is scheduled to arrive in Roseville’s UP Yard at 1:30 p.m. and will be on public display at 500 W. Atlantic St. from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. It then heads out for other special celebrations, including Western Pacific’s Centennial in Portola and the 140th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike in Ogden, Utah The 844 will return for Roseville’s Centennial celebration. It will be on public display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 25 trough Wednesday, April 29. “We are very excited to be a part of so many celebrations this year. The towns that we are visiting have strong ties to the railroad,” said Steve Lee, Union Pacific’s manager –– operating practices and locomotive engineer. About the 844 No. 844 was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad and was delivered in 1944. A high-speed passenger engine, it pulled such widely known trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger. When diesel-electric locomotives took over all passenger train duties, No. 844 was placed in freight service in Nebraska between 1957 and 1959. It was saved from being scrapped in 1960 and held for special service. No. 844 has run hundreds of thousands of miles for UP’s Heritage program. It has made appearances at Expo ‘74 in Spokane, the 1981 opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans and the 50th anniversary celebration of the Los Angeles Union Station in 1989. Known as Union Pacific’s “Living Legend,” No. 844 returned to service in 2005 after one of the most extensive steam locomotive overhauls in the United States since the 1950s. The work began in 2000 and affected its running gear, pumps, piping, valves and springs. Along with replacement of its firebox and extensive boiler work, the cab interior was refurbished. A Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) transmitter was installed on one of the rail cars that will travel with No. 844. The GPS system has been integrated with a map on UP’s Web site. Web site visitors will be able to access route maps with varying amounts of detail. The GPS system will update the map every five minutes showing No. 844’s location. Twitter users will be able “follow” the 844 at twitter.com/up_steam. Twitter will include the 844’s latest GPS location as well as brief reports from along the route.