Living Legend Inspires Canteen Spirit
Union Pacific No. 844 Steam Locomotive Delivers Goods Destined for Troops Overseas
Omaha, Neb., June 22, 2007 As part of Union Pacific’s Corn Belt Rocket steam locomotive excursion through the Midwest, the No. 844 - the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific Railroad – is supporting a modern-day canteen project. In the canteen’s heyday between 1941 and 1946, more than 6 million servicemen and women traveling through Nebraska during World War II received the hospitality of North Platte residents. The North Platte Canteen became famous when volunteers met every troop train with sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes and other homemade goods during stops there.
In this "reverse" canteen project, volunteers in North Platte are once again honoring those serving in the military. They are doing this by loading a variety of food, toiletries, books and other donated items into a baggage car on a train being pulled by the No. 844, also known as the Living Legend. The train will be unloaded in Fremont, Neb., by Army Reserve personnel and loaded into a RC-135 transport plane at Offutt Air Force Base for delivery to U.S. troops serving in the Middle East.
"As Union Pacific prepares to celebrate its 145th anniversary on July 1, this is yet another memorable event in the history of this great railroad," said Cameron Scott, general superintendent of transportation services at Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, Neb. -- the largest railroad classification yard in the world. "We are inspired to see that the Canteen spirit is alive and well and are proud to support our troops, including active-duty reservists who work for Union Pacific."
The steam locomotive contributed to the existence of the North Platte Canteen. In the years before Union Pacific switched to diesel-electric motive power, North Platte was a servicing point for the steamers hauling the troop trains. A North Platte service stop generally took about ten minutes, as UP employees scurried to re-lubricate the locomotive's large driving wheels and refill its water tender. It was this time-consuming task that permitted servicemen and women to detrain and visit the Canteen.
If soldiers were not allowed to detrain, volunteers passed gift baskets through the windows of the train.
No. 844 has run hundreds of thousands of miles for UP's Heritage program. It made appearances at Expo '74 in Spokane, the 1981 opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.
For more information about Union Pacific’s Corn Belt Rocket tour through the Midwest, visit UP’s Web site www.up.com. Enter the word "Steam" in the search box on the homepage for a shortcut to the map of the steam locomotive tour. A Global Positioning Satellite system will update the map on our Web site every five minutes showing No. 844’s location.
About Union Pacific
Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America's leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, links 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country and serves the fastest-growing U.S. population centers. Union Pacific’s diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad offers competitive long-haul routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways. Union Pacific connects with Canada’s rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major gateways to Mexico, making it North America’s premier rail franchise.
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