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Steam-power locomotive to chug through region

8/15/2012

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Union Pacific Railroad's celebration of its 150th anniversary will bring old No. 844 back to Kansas, but it will zip right through Hays.

That doesn't mean Hays or Ellis residents won't be able to see it, however, but they will have to watch as it chugs its way through without stopping.

The legendary steam engine made its first stop in Kansas today, in Salina, as part of a circuit that's taking it from Cheyenne, Wyo., through Nebraska and back into Kansas before heading to its original location.

Locally, the steam engine will make stops Thursday in Russell, WaKeeney, Oakley and Sharon Springs.

The train will stop briefly at 10:01 a.m. near Main Street in Russell, leaving 30 minutes later for WaKeeney. The engine should pass through Hays approximately 45 minutes later.

The train is scheduled to arrive at 12:01 p.m. along Fifth Street in WaKeeney. It's a 30-minute stop there as well.

From there, it will go to Oakley, arriving at 2:01 p.m. near the intersection of East Front and Center.

At 2:30 p.m., the engine will depart for Sharon Springs for an overnight stop there.

It's supposed to arrive in Sharon Springs at 3:15 p.m. Mountain time, leaving for Kit Carson, Colo., at 8 a.m. Mountain time Friday.

This is the fourth leg of the UP 150 Express, part of the railroad's 150th anniversary celebration.

During the stops, visitors will be able to step inside Union Pacific's vintage Promontory baggage car that has been transformed into a traveling museum.

Inside the baggage car is a series of interactive touch screen devices illustrating how UP supported communities as they were established along the railroad.

The No. 844 steam engine, the last steam locomotive built for UP, ultimately will pull the traveling exhibit 13,000 miles through 15 states, according to UP.

The fifth leg of the UP 150 Express will be Aug. 31, when the steam engine heads to the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island.

Arrival and departure times for the steam train can be found at www.upsteam.com, and the progress of the train can be followed through a GPS system map that updates every five minutes.