It is common knowledge among steam fans that the UP roundhouse in
Cheyenne, WY is the home base for UP Northern 844 and UP Challenger 3985.
However, there are two Union Pacific steam locomotives stored in the UP
roundhouse in Cheyenne which are unknown to many people. These two
locomotives are UP FEF-3 (4-8-4) 838 and UP TTT63 (2-10-2) 5511.
Since neither were donated to be display in city parks, neither appear
Pacific's list of donated steam locomotives
UP 838 was sent from Omaha to Cheyenne in 1977. From that time on, it
has been used as a parts supply for the famous UP Northern: 844. It has
been said that the running gear and boiler of 838 is now in better condition
than that of 844 because of 844's extended use, although it is beyond
economic repair. Perhaps one day 838 will be put on display.
There is a photo of 838 in two-tone gray in the April 30, 1999 issue of
Classic Trains on page 22.
I would be interested in any other photos or information about this locomotive.
In its last years of use, 5511 was used as a stationary boiler at Ogden,
then at Green River. Such use was very hard on boilers as they seldom
received blow-downs and in general were not watched as closely as they were
when used as a steam locomotive. Its piston rods were cut (see photo on
the right) when it was towed from Green River to Cheyenne for storage and
possible scrapping back in 1968. During that trip it developed a "hot box"
had to be set out to be repacked. Cutting the piston rods was standard
procedure when preparing a locomotive for the scrapper's torch. The drive
rods would be left on so that the drivers would be balanced during transport
but the main rods would be severed so that there would be no chance for the
pistons to bind which could cause a derailment. 5511 arrived in Cheyenne
but was fortunately saved from the cutters torch possibly because it was
featured in the movie Last of the Giants
made by UP about the Big Boy
locomotives. 4-6-0 1243 (which had been towed
from Rawlins in 1968) was also featured in that movie and was also stored
in the UP roundhouse for many years before being sent to Omaha for display.
I have heard conflicting information regarding 5511's current condition.
One report stated that 5511 is not in very good mechanical condition.
The report stated that most of the cab appliances have been removed (although
they could have been removed by UP staff, I don't know). It went on to
say that since returning from Green River, 5511 had not had a hydro test
or any kind of boiler inspection and its condition was a bit of a mystery.
A recent report stated that the steam crew looked at the boiler and "ran all
sorts of tests" and concluded that it would not take much work to restore
it. Whatever its current condition, as a candidate for restoration it is
very poor. It was built as a "drag" locomotive. It has a very long wheel
base, longer than that of 844. Contrary to what some people have told me,
Steve Lee of the UP steam program has informed me that the center driver
is NOT blind. It has friction bearings (which is another strike against
any restoration efforts). It has a small tender, limiting
its range, and finally its large cylinders and small drivers would limit
its speed. In service this class of locomotives was limited to 45 mph.
In all, it would not be a very useful locomotive to have running. In 2004
I heard that this locomotive would be offered for sale.
The UP shop crew would like to get it out of the roundhouse and into a museum
somewhere. It does have the "not-so-common" Young valve gear and would make
a great museum display piece someday. It hasn't been moved much over the
years except to pull it out of the roundhouse for a Union Pacific Historical
Society convention a few years ago. Cosmetically it looks pretty good since
the shop crew painted it for the convention and posed it on the turntable for