Calling all steam fans! Calling all steam fans!
If you don’t have Memorial Day plans, and if you’re anywhere near Kansas City, Mo., you need to be at Union Station on Sunday, May 29. That’s when Union Pacific steam locomotive No. 844, the last steam locomotive ever built for Union Pacific back in 1944, arrives in KC to start “The Little Rock Express.”
Last November and December, Union Pacific asked for nominations for stops on the “Great Excursion Adventure – You Route the Steam.” The initial votes were narrowed down to four tour routes in January, and steam fans got to vote which final course they wanted No. 844 to take. The routes included the Tuscola Turn, which would have started in Boone, Iowa, and ended in Tuscola, Ill.; the Baton Rouge Rambler, which would have started in Dallas and ended in Baton Rouge, La.; and the Boise Limited, which would have started in Salt Lake City and ended in Boise, Idaho.
The Little Rock Express, which begins in Kansas City, Mo., and ends in Little Rock, Ark., came out on top with 76,217 votes, just 3,000 more votes than the Tuscola Turn.
The Little Rock Express will travel east from Kansas City through Missouri, making whistle stops along the way and stopping to be displayed in Jefferson City and St. Louis. From St. Louis it will travel south to Cape Girardeau before crossing into Arkansas, where it will stop in Bald Knob before landing in Little Rock on June 9.
The coolest part? The five people who referred the most voters to the contest get to be “honorary engineers” during different portions of the trip.
Unfortunately, the general public cannot purchase tickets to ride on the Little Rock Express.
No. 844 will travel through portions of Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa on its journey to and from its home in Cheyenne, Wyo., so it might be coming through your area. Check out the detailed schedule on Union Pacific’s website to see if Locomotive 844 will be stopping near you on its journey.