If you’ve got a free moment at about 1 p.m. Saturday and if you’re even a lightweight rail enthusiast like me, you might want to be at Union Station.
The Union Pacific’s No. 844 is scheduled to arrive then and be on display Sunday. It is quite a sight, and the sound is impressive. You can hear that distinctive low whistle from far away. No. 844 has made a few stops in Kansas City – and a couple of passes through Eastern Jackson County – in the last few years, but I’d still expect a bit of a crowd Saturday afternoon. Take the kids. Take a camera.
The railroad is celebrating its sesquicentennial, and it’s sent No. 844 on several good-will excursions this year. On Thursday, it leaves its base in Cheyenne, Wyo., for stops in Nebraska and Kansas before stopping in Kansas City on its way to Houston. This will be the seventh and last leg of the 150th anniversary tour. No. 844 was the last steam engine on which the railroad took delivery. That was in 1944. Until 1957, it was used for high-speed passenger service, but diesel was replacing steam by then. No. 844 was used for hauling freight from 1957 to 1959. Then it was saved from being scrapped in 1960, and it’s been restored, to the delight of railfans.
When the train is rolling, the railroad posts location updates on Twitter. Follow @UP_Steam.