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World's largest operating steam locomotive travels to mid-Missouri

World's largest operating steam locomotive travels to mid-Missouri

October 7th, 2010 in News

According to Union Pacific Railroad's website, their "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.

No. 3985 will be on display in St. Louis Oct. 8, and will make an overnight stop in Sedalia Oct. 9 and should travel through California in between.

On Oct. 10, the train will be in Sedalia to celebrate the community's Sesquicentennial.

"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," Ben Jones, Union Pacific's director of public affairs for Missouri and Kansas, said.

Union Pacific's No. 39985, is 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 of the map.

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

All information was obtained on UP's website. UP also had a disclaimer.

"The statements and information contained in the news release 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 Such information by its nature may become outdated, and investors should not assume that the statements and information contained in Union Pacific's news releases remain current after the date issued.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."