Legendary steam locomotive No. 844 pulled a special train celebrating Union Pacific Railroad's 150th Anniversary into downtown El Reno to begin the company's sesquicentennial festivities at the El Reno Burger Day Festival today.
El Reno Mayor Matt White served as honorary engineer aboard the train, called the UP 150 Express for its journey sharing Union Pacific's rich history with many key communities this year. Robert W. Turner, senior vice president - Corporate Relations for Union Pacific, presented Mayor White with El Reno's membership in Union Pacific's Train Town USA Registry, including an official Train Town USA sign and recognition on the company's 150th anniversary website, www.up150.com. Mayor White presented a Proclamation to recognize the positive impact Union Pacific Railroad has had in El Reno.
The Train Town presentation was the first of many activities that honor El Reno's railroad roots. Oklahoma's Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley and Mayor White will dedicate a large mural that highlights Union Pacific Railroad's 150 years of service with images of three generations of locomotives including a steam engine, a Streamliner and a modern diesel locomotive. The community is encouraged to attend the dedication at the rail underpass located at the historic U.S. Route 66 Friday, March 4 at 9:30 a.m.
The UP 150 Express will be on display during the Burger Day Festival on Saturday, May 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the tracks near the Canadian County Historical Museum. In addition to getting an up close look at the last steam engine built for Union Pacific, visitors will be able to step inside Union Pacific's vintage Promontory baggage car that has been transformed into a state-of-the-art traveling museum. The traveling exhibit closely replicates the full-scale Building America exhibit opening May 12 at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The traveling exhibit takes visitors back in time using the latest interactive touch screen technology to illustrate how Union Pacific supported communities as they were established along the way as the transcontinental railroad was built. The interactive experience culminates with the modern Union Pacific Railroad, which transports goods American businesses and consumers use every day. "Our 150th anniversary is a milestone that provides us with the opportunity to thank our communities for supporting Union Pacific," Turner said. "We are happy to celebrate our past and look forward to continuing to meet America's freight transportation needs."
The UP 150 Express made a brief stop in Chickasha, which was also named to Union Pacific's Train Town USA Registry, before arriving in El Reno. The train will depart on May 6 and travel to a celebration in Council Bluffs, Iowa, May 10-13.
Arrival and departure times for the steam train can be found at www.upsteam.com . Website visitors can follow No. 844 on a GPS system map that updates its location every five minutes. GPS updates are also available at upsteam.com.