"UP" for a Chase? 844 Comes to California
Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 6:01AM
Joe Perry in 844, @UP_Steam, Chase, Cima Subdivision, Events, General Photography, Locomotive, Map, News, Railfan, Railroad Photography, Ramblings and Such, Steam, Technology, Union Pacific

A Living Legend Comes to California

Today marks the beginning of the “return-trip” for Union Pacific’s “Living Legend,” No. 844, after participating in what Union Pacific dubbed the Centennial Tour to help New Mexico and Arizona celebrate their one-hundred years of statehood.

UP No. 844 - Photo courtesy of Union Pacific Railroad.

Union Pacific’s No. 844 is the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific, delivered in 1944, and will travel more than 2,900 miles from its base in Cheyenne, Wyoming during the 32-day, nine-state tour that will honor the rich railroad heritage of the scenic Southwest.

Weighing in at nearly 1,000,000 pounds, the ground literally shakes as she rumbles by at track speed. It is a rare opportunity that shouldn’t be missed—and those folks that reside near the return route from Yuma, Arizona through California, Nevada, Utah, and western Wyoming, should take advantage of this opportunity to see one of America’s great steam engines plowing the rails. The following map shows a high-level view of the route:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No. 844’s excursion into California begins a mere hour or so from now (7:00 AM PST) as she leaves Yuma, Arizona after a day of rest while on display at the border town. As the following schedule for the day indicates, she is enroute to Bloomington, California—a.k.a. West Colton, where she will be serviced and then tied-up for the evening. She will also receive servicing at Niland, California on her way to Colton and this is a good opportunity to get an extended view of the locomotive standing still. If a steam engine at speed is more your thing then grab a wide spot in the road track side and wait for her to come blowing by:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Residents of Southern California will get the same opportunity to view No. 844 up close and personal as the folks in Yuma, Arizona did because on Friday, November 18, 2011 the No. 844 is slated to be on public display at 10359 Alder Avenue, Bloomington, CA 92316, from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM:


View Larger Map

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday presents a rare opportunity to watch a steam engine struggle against the grades and curves of the much vaunted Cajon Pass as No. 844 leaves Colton and heads to Yermo, California on BNSF rails over the pass. Traditionally, with events such as a steam train traversing the pass, expect a lot of traffic and sightseers all along the route on Saturday. Cajon Pass is one of the favorite locations for local railfans and the smoke from the engine can be seen for some distance in the pass which will garner the attention of travelers on Interstate 15 as well, which dances with the BNSF and Union Pacific rails throughout the southern section of the pass. (I plan on making this part of the trip—see you out there chasing steel!):

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For me, Sunday offers the crème delecrème portion of the trip through California—the run north out of Yermo towards Las Vegas, Nevada. This portion of the trip traverses some of the most spectacular scenery of the tour in California. Two areas rich in scenery are Afton Canyon and the Mojave National Preserve surrounding Kelso and Cima: 

NOTE: Afton Canyon is extremely remote and should only be attempted by serious four-wheelers, but the Kelso and Cima areas are easily accessible—just remember they are a long way from services such as food, water, and gas—so make sure to top off everything before you leave Yermo.

UP Cima Subdivision Chase Map and UP Tools

Since most folks rarely get into this remote area of California, I thought that I should provide my “Chase Map” for Union Pacific’s Cima Subdivision to assist you in planning your chase. Simply click on each image below to downlaod:

Union Pacific also offers two methods of tracking the locomotive during excursions such as this one. The first one is the internet-based tracking applet on the UP Steam web site. The other one is the newly released iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad app called UP Steam:

UP Steam app - available for both the iPhone and iPad

UP Steam Locomotive Tracking Map

Be Safe and Enjoy the Experience (My PSA)

Before you head out to enjoy the experience at the location of your choosing be sure to read my post called “The New Rules of Railfanning: Don’t Trespass, Be Alert, Report Issues” as it details some of the challenges and risks of being trackside.

Also, remember that any track is a live track and don’t assume that you can hear a train coming. Many times folks lose their focus when a steam train approaches and they mistaken assume that the railroad knows they are there and have closed other tracks for this steam train. This is not so! Since the railroad is private property the expectation is that you are NOT there. Also remember it takes a good deal of distance to stop a train so just stay off of the tracks—all tracks. A safe trip is a FUN trip!

Don’t Do This!

How NOT to behave around railroad tracks!

Article originally appeared on railroad photography and blog by joe perry (http://www.chasingsteel.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.