Ye Olde Steam Engine

So, I’m sitting at a computer somewhere one day checking my e-mail (hard to believe isn’t it?) when I get a note from a photographer friend of mine that says that a railroad steam engine is coming through town the following day. While it was going to be coming through, it would make a 15 minute whistle stop on the tracks behind a strip-mall (there aren’t too many places for trains to stop on the tracks these days). Hmm, that sounds moderately interesting from a photography perspective, and I’m sure that Ezra would love it… we made plans for the next morning.

As we strolled over to the area that the train was supposed to be stopping, fully expecting to be nearly the only ones there (I mean, if it isn’t on the news or Facebook or Twitter, how does anyone know about these events?), and we were shocked to see about 100 other folks already lined up waiting – and that’s not including the 100+ photographers that were lining the tracks along the frontage road. So, as the crowd and scene developed, so did the anticipation level. We would hear periodic updates about the train’s location, and the kids would get all excited. But I don’t think that any of us (at least those of us that just happened on this) really knew what to expect.

The train rounded the corner and approached the crowd, it was suddenly apparent that this was really freaking cool. The train is a special one that the Union Pacific railroad keeps in Cheyenne, WY. Every once in a while, they bring it out on tour or to special events. This time, the train was headed on a two month long tour of the southwest. As the train got close, the classic noises that trains are supposed to produce – but are absent in all modern diesel rigs – became loud, and I mean really loud. The train came to a stop, the Engineers climbed out, and the crowd narrowed in. It was an extremely cool opportunity to see a working engine like this one up close. There was little restriction about climbing up to and around the train, and the Engineer for the train even got out and spoke to a group of kids that featured Ezra and the kids from our street.

There really is something beautiful about it’s steel/industrial presence. And it takes good pictures too.


  1. Sandi Hernandez says:

    I remember the first time I saw the 844. It was in Denver. The kids’ dad and I went to see it at Union Station. And I will never forget the sound when they let the steam out and blew the whistle. I cried like a baby — it was soooo beautiful! Luckily I live close to the Durango/Silverton Railroad. Not quite the 844, but I still love hearing the sounds. You need to come to their Polar Express. It is definitely worth it! Would love to have you.

  2. This is a Cadillac compared to the coal-fired steam engines we had in Tracy. MN. when I was a child. On occasion, the family would take the train nine miles to Amiret, where my maternal grandparents had a farm.
    During the WWII, if I came home on furlough from Texas in the summer, the coach cars had the windows wide open. (No air conditioning) It would take 2 days to get home and by that time, my skin and clothes were nearly black from the coal soot coming right in the windows.
    One time, I arrived at Gene’s & JoAnn’s at 6 AM, so dirty that JoAnn didn’t want to let me in the house. She could not recognize me!!

  3. The Bertram's says:

    Very nice pictures Oren. I sent this one to my dad as he loves trains and more important American history! Nice work!

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