Apr 28, 2022

Union Pacific, Railroading Heritage of Midwest America reach agreement to preserve historic locomotives, passenger cars


Two Union Pacific steam locomotives to be returned to operation

OMAHA, Neb. and MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Union Pacific Railroad and the non-profit Railroading Heritage of Midwest America (RRHMA) today announced UP’s donation of out-of-service historic Union Pacific locomotives and passenger equipment from UP’s Heritage Fleet. Under the agreement, the following equipment is being donated to RRHMA:
 
  • UP “Challenger” steam locomotive No. 3985 built by American Locomotive Co. in 1943
  • “Santa Fe” type 2-10-2 steam locomotive No. 5511 built by Baldwin in 1923
  • “Centennial” DDA40X diesel locomotive No. 6936, one of the largest diesel locomotives in the world
  • UP 966B, an unrestored former E9B passenger locomotive
  • Four coaches and a diner lounge car built in the 1950s
  • Two business cars: “Selma,” previously Western Pacific “Feather River;” and “Stanford,” originally the 1928 SP “Sunset,” SP 140, which was renamed “Stanford” in 1955.
  • A baggage car and a caboose.

All of the equipment will be moved by UP to RHMA’s recently acquired shop complex in Silvis, Ill. later this year.

RRHMA is grateful for Union Pacific’s generous equipment donation and will provide attentive stewardship of these assets at its expansive Silvis facility. “RRHMA is honored that UP entrusted us with its historic equipment,” said Steve Sandberg, RRHMA president and chief operating officer. “We restored Milwaukee Road steam locomotive No. 261 and operated it and a fleet of historic passenger cars for three decades, so we have a proven record, as UP recognized. This donation will be a win-win-win for UP, RRHMA, and the public, which will gain access to equipment that has not operated in recent years.”

RRHMA plans a multi-year, multi-million-dollar restoration of the steam locomotives to operating condition, just as UP rebuilt Big Boy steam locomotive No. 4014. RRHMA will first restore No. 3985, which last operated in 2010, with No. 5511 to be restored after work on 3985 is complete.

RRHMA has already lined up significant financial commitments from major donors, with a founding grant from John J. Gray, who established his “UP in Smoke Foundation” to fund historic preservation of UP steam locomotives. It will be setting up a two-for-one matching donation program – every dollar pledged will be matched with two dollars by other donors. This additional funding will allow RRHMA to restore locomotives and cars more quickly and put them on display.

RRHMA plans to repaint and redecorate the business cars into their historic WP and SP liveries and offer them for charter on Amtrak and private trips. Most of the remaining cars will be repainted in RRHMA’s Milwaukee Road colors. “Our dream, of course, is to see this equipment operate,” said Sandberg. “We will initially be talking to regional and short line railroads to explore opportunities to operate after restoration.” Open houses at Silvis to see the equipment will be scheduled in the future.

RRHMA is seeking donations for the restoration of the locomotives and cars at

Support Friends of the 261 | Railroading Heritage of Midwest America.

Recent Posts

2023 Northern Lines

Things may have seemed quiet over the summer for the Friends of the 261, but they have been quite far from that. Many things have been progressing in the shop of the 261.Friends contracted by MTM for A18Back in 2021, MTM (Minnesota Transportation Museum) contracted...

2023 Train Day

RRHMA participates in Midwest events Equipment makes appearances at Union Depot Train Days, Franklin Park Railroad DazeRailroading Heritage of Midwest America participated in two Midwest railroad events in June, part of fulfilling our mission to promote public...

RRHMA awarded $31,000 by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust

Railroading Heritage of Midwest America would like to announce the award of $31,000 by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust to go towards the return to service of the Sleeping Car/Lounge Caritas. We would like to thank the Emery Rail Heritage Trust for its continued support...

RRHMA to Expand operations to Silvis, IL

Railroading Heritage of Midwest America to expand operations to Silvis Illinois shop & rail complexThe rail complex will be developed as a multiuse commercial development, historic preservation, restoration and future transportation museum. SILVIS, Ill. (Jan 10,...

Friends of the 261 acquires private car Caritas

Friends of the 261 acquires private car CaritasCaritas has traveled thousands of miles on excursions organized by car owners Clark Johnson and Nona Hill (pictured at left) through their company High Iron Travel. (Steve Glischinski)MINNEAPOLIS – The Friends of the 261,...