Friday, September 26, 2008

UP Challenger No. 3985

We interrupt this birding and nature blog to bring you............a train! But not just any old train, this is Union Pacific's Challenger No. 3985 Steam Locomotive, "the only operating engine of its class in the world today – the largest and most powerful operating steam locomotive."

This train was originally scheduled to be in Minnesota during the Republican National Convention, and I had been anticipating that event since I first heard about it in April. Then in late August, we heard the train had been cancelled. About 3 weeks ago, Mike (my train buddy at work) told me this train was re-scheduled to return to Minnesota at the end of September, and as luck would have it, I didn't have to work today and was able to see the train up close and personal!

(I had another really great video that I wanted to insert here but Blogger absolutely refuses to let me upload it. I tried at least 8 times, even tried resaving the video in Windows Movie Maker but nothing's working. UPDATE: I finally got this video uploaded, but in a separate post......please click on this link or just go down to the previous post and you can view the video there.)

There was a wide variety of people in Owatonna to see this train, but mostly older folks. I spotted this lady with curlers in her hair as I was making my way through the multitude of "train enthusiasts," but didn't realize till I got home and processed my photos that she appeared in my photo too. I'm always amazed when I see ladies who still wear curlers!

OK, back to the train.

I think these are tender cars that carry the fuel to run the train. Although the engine is still powered by steam, that power is now generated by diesel fuel and not coal like years ago.

Here are some of the other cars that make up the train. Each car has a name on it. I didn't notice that until I spoke to Brother Phil in California (who works for Union Pacific).

This is a huge engine. I think I read on the UP Website (link is above) that this engine and tender together weigh 1 Million Pounds!
This plaque was on the side of the engine. She looks pretty darn good for 65 years old, don't you think?
Here's another photo of me with the Challenger engine in the background.

And here's a similar photo of my Brother Phil and Nephew Charlie with the same Challenger engine in California.

This train is going to be in St. Paul, Minnesota for the rest of the weekend at the South St. Paul Union Pacific Station (a link to the schedule is here). If you're going to be in that area and don't have any other plans, take time to go over and see this magnificent steam engine. Or better yet, take the morning off Tuesday and go over and see the train leave the station. There's nothing quite as exciting as being able to see and hear a train like this in person!

Here's a video I shot of the train departing Owatonna on its way to St. Paul.


Lynne said...

What a cool video Ruthie. That sound brought back memories- mostly of the Casey Jones TV show.
I LOVED Casey Jones and Roundhouse Rodney.

KGMom said...

Aren't trains just wonderful? I have the BEST memories of train rides (albeit while I was living in Africa with my parents many years ago).
I can still feel the wonderful rocking motion of the train--and here the steam whistle blowing.

Jayne said...

"Oh wow Mom! Look! Can we go?" said Sam as he was looking over my shoulder just now. :c) He loves trains with a passion, and this post was right up his alley. Thanks for sharing this Ruthie!

Marsha said...

What a great experience to see this up close and personal and how cool that you also have the photo of your brother in front of the same engine in CA! I really enjoyed listening to the sounds on the video...almost felt like I was there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip to Owatonna to see "The Challenger", Dad really appreciated all the pics and sounds. He looked at some of the other links you had on. Im glad you took the chance to go and look. It was perfect day for doing this, warm and sunny.


RuthieJ said...

Hi Lynne,
I hope you get a chance to head over to St. Paul this weekend to see this's really impressive!

Hi Donna,
I like trains alot and those old steam locomotives are the best! I have some good train memories too--we used to ride the train with my Mom to Chicago to visit my grandparents (back in the 60's).

Thanks Jayne. I thought of Sam and a lot of other people I know who I wished could have been along with me for this trip. Too bad you aren't closer--my dad has a lot of neat train videos that he and Sam could spent hours watching together.

Hi Marsha,
I was so glad I got a chance to see this train and get pictures and videos. I think we got the "train enthusiast" gene from our dad!

Hi Mom,
I finally watched the Challenger video Dad loaned me a couple months ago. I noticed in that video the engine was still powered by coal so the smoke from the smokestack was quite black. I expected to see that yesterday, but the diesel fuel burns much cleaner. Other than that, it still sounds and looks the same. What an amazing train!

Deb said...

Ruthie- That is so cool. I love old steam locomotives. And I was also a big fan of the Casey Jones show!

Debbie said...

Ruthie, just love the videos. My hubby works at the Schenectady County Airport. There is so much history in our area for manufacturing.

Brian's dad has had several steam engines. For several years, he had a working steam shovel and ran an old sawmill on steam.

I think the old engines are so magestic!

Larry said...

Very Cool! I road an old steam train in Essex CT this year. I guess that if I was really into hunting I'd be more inclined to vote Republican.-I think the democrats should drop their anti NRA attitude because they probably lose more votes than they gain with their stance on that issue.

Meggie said...

That is one beautiful steam engine, Ruthie! Glad you took the day off to enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Ruth do you remember riding the train in the Black Hills? It was a steam engine also and do you remember how dirty we got from all the ash that was spewed out over us as we rode thru the "Hills"? We all had a great time on that ride. I think memories are fun, and some where I have pictures to prove it.


Anonymous said...

I have a video of the other steamer th they mention in the UP web site that we were sent to for more information. That woul be the 844 which is still a working engine. It used to be numbered 8444 but now has it's old number back. If you want to see that one I can loan it to you.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Deb,
That Casey Jones program must have been on a Twin Cities TV station? I don't remember it from when I was younger.
There aren't many of the old steam locomotives left--my train buddy Mike tells me that every year it's harder to find or fabricate replacement parts for when they break down and very expensive to keep them running.

Hi Debbie,
I'm glad I took a picture of that manufacturing plate on the train and that it has some meaning for you. I can't even imagine what it must have took to build a train of this size--especially without all the modern technology we have today. The people who built those old steam engines were true craftsmen!

Hi Larry,
I sure wished I could have taken a ride on this train too, but too much other stuff going on this weekend.

Thanks Meggie, I was glad I had the day off too, not just for the train, but for the beautiful weather--I think it was our last truly summer-like day for the year (with a high temp of 82 degrees!)

Hi Mom,
I was working when you guys went on that Black Hills adventure, so I missed the train ride that time, but went with Rick a few years later (early 80's) on our way to Yellowstone.

Hi Dad,
Yeah, I'd like to borrow your other video too the next time I see you. I think I'm going to watch this Challenger video one more time, just to hear that whistle blowing! It would be worth taking a trip to Cheyenne just to see this train again and the other trains in their museum.

Mary said...

Ruthie, I wish my Dad could see this. He loves trains and always wanted to ride across country in one. I've been to every train museum in the mid-atlantic region with him...

This post touched my heart.

But I must say, the lady wearing the curlers almost stole the show :o)


Red said...

Ruthie :) It looks like you had a very fun day. I remember a few family trips to see some trains... you brought back some memories.

When you say each car has a name - do you mean the Union Pacific (or Southern Pacific or whatever) name, or do you mean "betsy" or "camille" etc?

Mary C said...

Ruthie, it's OK to get away from nature posts now and then - especially when you feature such a beautiful hunk of metal like that train. Wow! Great videos, too. Thanks for sharing it.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
My dad would have enjoyed seeing the train too, but there was a long walk from where I parked and pretty rough terrain at the train site, so he just got to enjoy it from my videos. A couple years ago I took Dad, Brother Phil and Nephew Charlie to a train museum in Wisconsin. We had a fun time there too. There's another museum with a steam locomotive down in Iowa that I hope we get a chance to visit some day too.

Hi Red,
It was a really fun adventure for me.
The names on the train cars are in the center of each car down towards the bottom (one of the tenders has "Joe Jordan" written on it and some of the other cars you'll see "Columbine" and "St. Louis.") I don't know what the significance of this is, so I need to find that out--my inquiring mind wants to know!

Hi Mary,
I did spend a lot of time outside with the train, so I guess it was kind of a nature post.....

Red said...

I'll keep an eye out for that on the trains I see in the future! That's intriguing too. I guess it's kinda like naming a boat.