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Union Pacific Railroad's World's Largest Operating Steam Locomotive to Pull 'Ringling Bros.' Circus Train on Way to Sedalia, Mo., Celebration

The Special Steam Locomotive Will Travel 2,200 Miles During the 17-day Tour

Media Kit


Challenger 3985

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Omaha, Neb., September 15, 2010 – Union Pacific Railroad's "Challenger" No. 3985, the world's largest operating steam locomotive, will be on a six-state, 2,200-mile tour from Cheyenne, Wyo., to Gorham, Ill., to celebrate railroad heritage. To kick-off the tour, Challenger will pull the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus train between Speer, Wyo., and Denver, Colo.

"We are proud No. 3985 will pull the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus train on September 28. History will be made that day when No. 3985 will pull a 65-car train that is more than 6,000 tons and nearly 6,100 feet long, the most for a steam locomotive in the 21st century," said Dick Hartman, Union Pacific's director of public affairs for Colorado and Wyoming.

"Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is excited to be part of this railroad heritage celebration; we've been riding the rails for the last 175 years, so Ringling. Bros. is a part of rail history," said Keith Anderson, trainmaster of the Ringling Bros. Blue Unit train. "No. 3985 will pull a mile-long train, stocked full of international performers, animals and all of the gear we need for The Greatest Show On Earth," he added.

No. 3985 is on the Missouri River Eagle tour to help Sedalia, Mo., celebrate the community's Sesquicentennial on Sunday, October 10.

"Sedalia has such a rich railroad heritage that it is only fitting that the world's largest operating steam locomotive help in celebrating their sesquicentennial," said Ben Jones, Union Pacific's director of public affairs for Missouri and Kansas. 

During this tour, the 67-year-old locomotive will be on display in:

  • Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 3 and Oct. 11;
  • Jefferson City, Mo., Oct. 5; and
  • St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8; and

The Challenger will make overnight stops in:

  • Denver, Colo., Sept. 28;
  • Cheyenne, Wyo., Sept. 29;
  • North Platte, Neb., Sept. 30 and Oct. 13;
  • Marysville, Kan., Oct. 1 and Oct 12;
  • St. Louis, Mo., Oct.6 and Oct. 7; and
  • Sedalia, Mo., Oct. 9.

Union Pacific's No. 3985, an articulated locomotive with a "hinged" frame to allow it to negotiate curves, is 122 feet long.  It weighs more than one million pounds, has six-foot diameter drive wheels and can reach a top speed of 70 miles per hour. No. 3985 was built in 1943 for fast freight service and was retired in 1959. In 1981, it was restored to running condition by UP employee volunteers for special service. This is the first trip for the locomotive after undergoing maintenance work during the last two years. The Challenger is based in Cheyenne, Wyo.

A Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) transmitter was installed on one of the rail cars that will travel with No. 3985. The GPS system has been integrated with a map on UP's website. Enter the word "Steam" in the search box on the homepage for a shortcut to the map.

Website visitors will be able to access route maps with varying amounts of detail. The GPS system will update the map every five minutes showing No. 3985's location. GPS updates are also available at

During 2010, the Reed Jackson concession car displays a commemorative sign celebrating the National Model Railroad Association's 75 years of service to the model railroad community.

About National Model Railroad Association

Headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) is a nonprofit corporation with members from every U.S. state as well as countries around the world. The organization is charged with establishing and enforcing the standards and recommended practices that ensure compatibility of products in the model railroad hobby. Local divisions host meetings, conventions, home layout visits and train shows. Throughout 2010, the 20,000 members of the National Model Railroad Association are celebrating its 75 years of service to the model railroading hobby and industry. NMRA was founded in Milwaukee in 1935. Learn more at

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. Union Pacific serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers and provides Americans with a fuel-efficient, environmentally responsible and safe mode of freight transportation. Union Pacific's diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad emphasizes excellent customer service and offers competitive 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.

Media contact: Mark Davis at 402-544-5459 or

The statements and information contained in the news releases provided by Union Pacific speak only as of the date issued. Such information by its nature may become outdated, and investors should not assume that the statements and information contained in Union Pacific's news releases remain current after the date issued. Union Pacific makes no commitment, and disclaims any duty, to update any of this information.