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

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