New Kenefick Park Dedicated at Lauritzen Gardens
Park Honors Former Union Pacific CEO, Creates Dramatic Entrance to Omaha
Omaha, Neb., October 15, 2005 Union Pacific Railroad Chairman and CEO Dick Davidson, former UP Chairman and CEO John Kenefick and Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman today dedicated the new Kenefick Park. Located at the south end of Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens, the park is named for Kenefick, who retired in 1986.
In addition to creating a dramatic new east entrance to Omaha, Kenefick Park charts the history of the transcontinental railroad and recognizes the ties that bind Union Pacific and Omaha.
"John Kenefick is a great man and a great leader," Davidson said. "And because John led Union Pacific so well, the company was able to grow and prosper and that in turn, helped Omaha grow and prosper. In large part because of what John accomplished, the history of Union Pacific and the history of Omaha are forever linked."
"If it were up to me, I’d call it ‘Union Pacific Park,’" Kenefick said. "If you have a good railroad, it’s because you have good people behind it. It’s the people of the railroad that make the difference, and to recognize that is a very good idea."
Kenefick Park features two giant locomotives. Big Boy No. 4023 – the world’s largest steam locomotive – and Centennial No. 6900 – the largest and most powerful diesel-electric locomotive ever built – can be seen high above Interstate 80 by passing motorists.
The two locomotives were moved from the original Kenefick Park along Abbott Drive east of downtown Omaha to the Western Heritage Museum in 2002 to accommodate redevelopment. Union Pacific and the City of Omaha announced the new location of the park and the pair of locomotives in September 2004.
The new park also includes several plazas, seating areas, a grand staircase, "canyon" stone walls, sculpture and walkways. Interpretive signs and sculptural elements located throughout the park depict the history and people of Union Pacific, which Kenefick said is very fitting.
According to prize winning author Maury Klein, "John Kenefick is the linchpin for the post-1969 period in Union Pacific’s history. He is an indispensable resource." Klein credits Kenefick as the mainspring of his literary project "Union Pacific: The Birth, 1862-1893" and "Union Pacific: The Rebirth, 1894-1969."
Kenefick was born in 1921 and graduated from Princeton University with a major in mechanical engineering. After serving three years in the U.S. Navy, he began his career with Union Pacific working in the mechanical and operating departments in 1947. He was elected chief executive officer in 1970, became president in 1971 and was named chairman and chief executive officer of Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads in 1983. While he retired nearly 20 years ago, Kenefick still maintains an office at Union Pacific.
Following the dedication ceremony, the park opened to the public for the weekend. Kenefick Park will close Oct. 17 to allow crews to complete the final stages of construction by early November.
Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America’s leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, is the largest railroad in North America, covering 23 states across the western two-thirds of the United States. A strong focus on quality and a strategically advantageous route structure enable the company to serve customers in critical and fast growing markets. It is a leading carrier of low-sulfur coal used in electrical power generation and has broad coverage of the large chemical-producing areas along the Gulf Coast. With competitive long-haul routes between all major West Coast ports and eastern gateways, and as the only railroad to serve all six major gateways to Mexico, Union Pacific has the premier rail franchise in North America.
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