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Union Pacific Railroad (reporting markUP) (or legally Union Pacific Railroad Company and simply Union Pacific) is a freight-hauling railroad that operates 8,500 locomotives over 32,100 route-miles in 23 U.S. states west of Chicago and New Orleans. The Union Pacific Railroad system is the 2nd largest in the United States after BNSF and is one of the world's largest transportation companies. The Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of the Union Pacific Corporation, both headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.
The line was constructed primarily by Irish labor who had learned their craft during the recent Civil War. Under the guidance of its dominant stockholder Dr. Thomas Clark Durant, the namesake of the city of Durant, Iowa, the first rails were laid in Omaha. The two lines were joined together at Promontory Summit, Utah, 53 miles (85 km) west of Ogden on May 10, 1869, hence creating the first transcontinental railroad in North America.
Directors of the Union Pacific Railroad gather on the 100th meridian, which later became Cozad, Nebraska, approximately 250 miles (400 km) west of Omaha, Nebraska Territory, in October 1866. The train in the background awaits the party of Eastern capitalists, newspapermen, and other prominent figures invited by the railroad executives.
The original UP was entangled in the Crédit Mobilier scandal, exposed in 1872. As detailed by The Sun, Union Pacific's largest construction company, Crédit Mobilier, had overcharged Union Pacific; these costs had then been passed on to the United States government. In order to convince the federal government to accept the increased costs, Crédit Mobilier had bribed congressmen. Several prominent UP board members (including Durant) had been involved in the scheme. The ensuing financial crisis of 1873 led to a credit crunch, but not bankruptcy.
As boom followed bust, the Union Pacific continued to expand. The original company was purchased by a new company on January 24, 1880, with dominant stockholder Jay Gould. Gould already owned the Kansas Pacific (originally called the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, though in essence a separate railroad), and sought to merge it with UP. Thusly was the original "Union Pacific Rail Road" transformed into "Union Pacific Railway."
Extending towards the Pacific Northwest, Union Pacific built or purchased local lines that gave it access to Portland, Oregon. Towards Colorado, it built the Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf Railway: both narrow gauge trackage into the heart of the Rockies and a standard gauge line that ran south from Denver, across New Mexico, and into Texas.
The Union Pacific Railway would later declare bankruptcy during the Panic of 1893. Again, a new Union Pacific "Railroad" was formed and Union Pacific "Railway" merged into the new corporation.
Union Pacific in the 20th century
In the early 20th century, Union Pacific's focus shifted from expansion to internal improvement. Recognizing that farmers in the Central and Salinas Valleys of California grew produce far in excess of local markets, Union Pacific worked with its rival Southern Pacific to develop a rail-based transport system that was not vulnerable to spoilage. These efforts came culminated in the 1906 founding of Pacific Fruit Express, soon to be the world's largest lessee of refrigerated railcars.
Meanwhile, Union Pacific worked to construct a faster, and more direct substitute for the original climb to Promontory Point. In 1904, the Lucin cutoff opened, reducing curvature and grades. The original route would eventually be stripped of track in 1942 to provide war scrap.
To attract customers during the Great Depression, Union Pacific's chairman W. Averell Harriman simultaneously sought to "spruce up" the quality of its rolling stock and to make its unique locations more desirable travel destinations. The first effort resulted in the purchase of the first streamlined train: the M-10000. The latter resulted in the Sun Valleyski resort in central Idaho; it opened in 1936 and finally was sold in 1964. Despite the fact that the M-10000 and its successors were among the first diesel locomotives, Union Pacific completed dieselization relatively late. In 1944, UP finally received delivery of its last steam locomotive: Union Pacific 844.
As the 20th century waned, Union Pacific recognized--like most railroads--that remaining a regional road could only lead to bankruptcy. At the close of December 31, 1925, UP and its subsidiaries had operated 9,834 route-miles and 15,265 track-miles; in 1980, these numbers had remained roughly constant (9,266 route-miles and 15,647 track-miles). But in 1982, UP acquired the Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific railroads, and 1988, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas. By 1993, Union Pacific had doubled its system to 17,835 route-miles.
By the same token, few large (class I) railroads remained. The same year that Union Pacific merged with the Chicago and North Western (1995), Burlington Northern and ATSF announced plans to merge. The impending BNSF amalgamation would leave one mega-railroad in control of the west. In order to compete, UP quickly merged with Southern Pacific, thereby incorporating D&RGW and Cotton Belt, and forming a duopoly in the West. Although Southern Pacific was the nominal survivor, the merged railroad took the Union Pacific name.
Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles[Note 1]
The Union Pacific system includes hundreds of yards. The majority of those yards are flat yards--used for local switching. Other types of yards include intermodal terminals and hump yards. Intermodal terminals are typically ports, but UP also has terminals inland for trucks, such as a $90 million terminal in San Antonio that opened in 2009.
Active hump yards
Hump yards speed railcar classification by using the gravity of a small hill. Incoming cars are pushed over the hill and released down the slope. The free-rolling cars are then switched automatically into cuts of cars, ready to be made into outbound trains. Union Pacific's active hump yards include:
UP's basic paint scheme for its diesel-electriclocomotives is the oldest still in use by a major railroad. The middle two-thirds of the locomotive body is painted Armour Yellow, so named because it was the color used by the Armour meat company. A thin band of Signal Red divides this from the Harbor Mist Gray (a fairly light gray) used for the body and roof above that point. Signal Red is also painted at the bottom of the locomotive body, but this color has gradually become yellow as new Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations for reflectorized tape came into effect in 2005; the trucks, underframe, fuel tanks and everything else beneath that line are also Harbor Mist Gray. The trucks at one point were painted in an aluminum color, though due to high costs and high maintenance, this was also changed to harbor mist gray, right after the merger with WP and MP. Lettering and numbering are in Signal Red, with black outlines. Some locomotives (historically passenger locomotives, as well as most units from 2000 on) have white-outlined blue "wings" on the nose, on either side of the renowned shield featuring white lettering on a blue background and, below it, red and white vertical stripes. The lettering, reading "Union Pacific" (earlier, at times, "Union Pacific Railroad"), is in a proprietary font similar to Futura Bold. A zig zag design with the signal red line on the top half of the locomotive sides is affectionately known as the "lightning stripe", based on a design from later CNW locomotives. Beginning in early 2002, a number of units were repainted with a large, billowing American flag with the corporate motto "Building America" on the side, where the 'UNION PACIFIC' lettering is normally positioned. This paint scheme is known as "Building America," "Wings," or "Flags and Flares."
UP Locomotive GE AC4400CW 5645 in Battle Creek, Michigan, with the Flags and Flares paint scheme
Union Pacific #5391, approaching bridge at Multnomah Falls Oregon, shows the white-outlined blue "wings" on the nose
The Armour Yellow livery was first introduced on the UP's M-10000 streamliner train in 1934, although Leaf Brown was used instead of Harbor Mist Grey. Passenger cars, cabooses, and other non-freight equipment have also been painted in a similar fashion.
The steam locomotive paint schemes are unique in their own way. Up until the mid-1940s, all steam locomotives on UP were painted in a standard scheme: the smokebox and firebox were painted graphite and the rest was painted jet black; the lettering was usually aluminum. In the late 1940s, many passenger steam locomotives were repainted in a two-tone grey scheme to match the scheme applied to some coaching stock. These locomotives were painted light grey, with one dark gray strip running from front to rear alongside the running board and in the middle of the tender. This dark grey strip was outlined in yellow (originally aluminum), and all lettering inside the strip was yellow also. After 1952, these locomotives were repainted in the same basic black color scheme as the earlier freight locomotives. The grey passenger cars were repainted in the yellow scheme.
Merger partner locomotives
A former Southern Pacific GP38-2 locomotive renumbered with UP "patch" markings
Until 2017, UP operated a (relatively) large number of locomotives still in the former railroads' paint. In addition, many locomotives were "patched" and renumbered by UP, varying in the degree of the previous railroads' logos being eradicated, but always with a yellow patch applied over the locomotive's former number and a new UP number applied on the cab. This allowed UP to number locomotives into its roster without spending the time and money necessary to perform a complete repaint. In May 2015, UP rostered 212 "patches", consisting of:
22 Chicago and North Western (whose CNW logos have been hidden by the "patches"),
174 Southern Pacific (AC4400CW, GP40-2, MP15AC, and GP60)
14 St. Louis Southwestern (GP60)
2 Denver and Rio Grande Western (GP60)
While not technically a predecessor locomotive in the traditional sense, UP also rostered a single SD40-2 (3564) still in the 1970s paint scheme, not counting DDA40X No. 6936, which is part of the Union Pacific Heritage Fleet.
Because patching varies in the degree to which it eliminates predecessor paint schemes, many patched units had unique designs, such UP 6361 (fully painted for UP, but only on one side). However, in 2017, Union Pacific decided to repaint all locomotives not in the current corporate colors. As of March 2018[update], only 41 locomotives remained unpainted.
In October 2005, UP unveiled SD70ACe 4141, commissioned in honor of George Bush. The locomotive has "George Bush 41" on the sides and its paint scheme resembles that of Air Force One. It was sent into storage in 2007, but returned in 2018 to power Bush's funeral train.
On March 31, 2010, UP dedicated a specially painted GE ES44AC locomotive commemorating the centennial of the Boy Scouts of America. Although it retains the standard Armour Yellow and Harbor Mist colors, the unit has a large BSA 2010 logo on each side of the long hood, and the scouting logo low on the side of the cab.
On September 28, 2010, UP dedicated a specially painted GE ES44AC locomotive, as a tribute to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The unit is standard UP Armour Yellow and Harbor Mist colors, but has a large pink ribbon, the symbol for breast cancer awareness, on each side of the long hood.
On October 19, 2017, Union Pacific unveiled SD70AH 1943, "The Spirit of the Union Pacific", which is painted in a scheme to honor the United States armed forces.
On June 6, 2019, Union Pacific unveiled SD70ACe 1111, the "Powered By Our People" unit.
As of October 2013, the Union Pacific had 8,185 locomotives on its active roster. The locomotive fleet consists of 43 different models and had an average age of 17.8 years. According to Union Pacific, this is the largest fleet of diesel-electric locomotives in the US.
Union Pacific continues to use a small number of "heritage" steam locomotives and early streamlined diesel locomotives. This equipment is used on special charters. Union Pacific also maintains a single DDA40X locomotive, the most powerful diesel locomotive in the world.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2018)
Union Pacific maintains an extensive fleet of low-emissions locomotives. The majority of these locomotives have been purchased via grants from the US federal government, via the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. Most are used in Los Angeles basin rail yards, to satisfy an air quality agreement with the local authorities.
One of UP's steam locomotives hauls an excursion train through Painted Rocks, Nevada in 2009
Alone among modern railroads, UP maintains a small fleet of historic locomotives for special trains and hire in its Cheyenne, Wyoming, roundhouse.
UP 844 is a 4-8-4Northern-type express passenger steam locomotive (class FEF-3). It was the last steam locomotive built for UP and has been in continuous service since its 1944 delivery. Many people know the engine as the No. 8444, since an extra '4' was added to its number in 1962 to distinguish it from a diesel numbered in the 800 series. It regained its rightful number in June 1989, after the diesel was retired and donated to the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum in Boulder City, Nevada. Overhauled in 1996, it was taken out of service on June 24, 1999, after the collapse of boiler tubes made of the wrong material. It returned to service on November 10, 2004. It was rebuilt again in 2015 and returned to service in 2016. In addition to being one of UP's oldest locomotives, it is the only steam locomotive to never be officially retired from a North AmericanClass I railroad.
UP 3985 is a 4-6-6-4Challenger class dual-service steam locomotive. It is the second-largest operational steam locomotive in the world. Delivered in 1943, it operated in revenue service until it was withdrawn from service and stored in the UP roundhouse in 1962. In 1975, it was moved to the employees' parking lot outside the Cheyenne depot. In 1979, employee volunteers began to restore it to service, completing the job in 1981, whereupon it became the largest operating steam locomotive in the world, a title it lost in 2019 to No. 4014. It was repaired in 2007, and returned to operations the following year. Mechanical problems sent it back to storage again in October 2010 at Cheyenne.
UP 4014 is a 4-8-8-4Big Boy-class freight steam locomotive. It is the largest operational steam locomotive in the world. Delivered in 1941, the locomotive operated in revenue service until it was withdrawn in 1961. It was donated in late 1961 to the RailGiants Train Museum in Pomona, California, where it became one of the eight Big Boys preserved around the United States. On July 23, 2013, UP announced that it would reacquire No. 4014 from the Southern California chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society in Pomona, with the goal of restoring it to service. In 2014, No. 4014 was moved from Pomona to the Union Pacific West Colton yard, then to Cheyenne. Restoration to full operating condition was completed in May 2019; its first excursion took place that month.
UP 5511 is a 2-10-2Santa Fe-type steam locomotive built by Baldwin in 1923. It is the sole surviving member of its class and the only surviving UP 2-10-2 locomotive. The locomotive was never donated for public display and has remained stored at the roundhouse where the 844, 3985, and 4014 were repaired in Cheyenne. Although the locomotive is reportedly in excellent condition, it is speculated that UP has not restored it because of its top speed of 40 mph (64 km/h).
UP 1243 is a 4-6-0 steam locomotive, the oldest locomotive owned by UP. Built in 1890 and retired in 1957, it was at first stored in Rawlins, Wyoming. It was cosmetically restored in 1990 for public display, and toured with 844 as part of the Idaho and Wyoming Centennial train, being moved on a flat car. It was moved to Omaha in November 1996 and put on display at the Durham Western Heritage Museum.
UP 951, 949 and 963B are a trio of streamlined General Motors Electro-Motive DivisionE9 passenger locomotives built in 1955. They are used to haul the UP business cars during excursions and charter specials. While their external appearance remains almost entirely of 1955 vintage, the original twin 1,200-hp 12-cylinder 567 series engines have been replaced with single EMD 16-645E 2,000 hp (1.5 MW) engines (which were salvaged from wrecked GP38-2 locomotives) and the electrical and control equipment similarly upgraded. The set is made of two A units and one B unit. The B unit contains an HEP engine-generator set for powering passenger cars. The two A units were recently modified to eliminate the nose doors for safety during a collision.
UP 6936 is an EMD DDA40X "Centennial" diesel-electric locomotive, the last of its class in service. The largest diesel locomotives ever built, they were manufactured specifically for UP. The locomotive was damaged in a 2000 collision with a dump truck at a grade crossing in Livonia, Louisiana. After it was repaired, a winged UP shield logo was applied to the front. It was also repainted in the current Lightning Bolt paint scheme and had a rooftop air conditioning unit installed. Another collision took place in 2007.
A number of locomotives are kept in storage for possible restoration. Rio Grande (DRGW) F9B 5763 is part of the Trio (A-B-B) of F9s that served on the Rio Grande in various Passenger Duty services (From the Denver Ski Train to the Zephyr Trains) until their retirement in 1996. Sister Units 5771 (F9A) and 5762 (F9B) were donated to the Colorado Railroad Museum. Chicago and North Western F7 No. 401, used for Chicago and North Western business trains, was also retained by UP.
UP 838, a twin to 844, is stored in the Cheyenne roundhouse as a parts source, though as most of its usable parts have already been applied to 844, it is more likely to see use as a source of pattern parts for reproduction replacements. Reputedly, 838's boiler is in better condition than that of 844, due to 838 having not been in steam since retirement, compared to 844's relatively heavy use since 1960.
In addition to the historic fleet outlined above kept by UP itself, a large number of UP locomotives survive elsewhere. Many locomotives were donated to towns along the Union Pacific tracks, for instance, as well as locomotives donated to museums.
UP 18, 26. From 1948 to 1970, UP operated a series of gas turbine-electric locomotives. No other railroad in the world operated turbines on such a scale. At one point, UP claimed that the turbines hauled 10% of its freight. These were ultimately retired due to rising fuel costs. Two surviving GTELs can be seen on display; UP 18 is at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, and UP 26 is displayed at the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden, Utah.
UP 6900 Centennial series - Several of the huge DDA40X diesel-electric locomotives have been saved. Other than 6936 that UP maintains in its heritage fleet, none of the remaining Centennials operate. However, 6930 at the Illinois Railway Museum has operating cab controls, allowing it to couple to another locomotive and control it.
Union Pacific owns a miniature train, sometimes called the "Pride of The Omaha Shops." It was constructed in 1956 in the Omaha shops. For many years, the train has been used in various events, including parades, employee Family Days and other civic events. Today, it makes about 50 appearances a year throughout Union Pacific's 23-state system and generally is booked up to three years in advance of special civic celebrations.
When Union Pacific merged with Chicago & Northwestern, it inherited C&NW's commuter rail services in the Chicago metropolitan area: Metra's UP/North, UP/Northwest, and UP/West lines, all of which operate from the Ogilvie Transportation Center (the former North Western Station-a name still used by many Chicago residents). In order to ensure uniformity across the Chicago area commuter rail system, trains are branded as Metra services and use Metra equipment. However, Union Pacific crews continue to operate the trains under a purchase-of-service agreement.
Wine label, Roma Wine Company, bottled for Union Pacific RR circa 1940s
Between 1869 and 1971, Union Pacific operated passenger service throughout its historic "Overland Route." The last passenger train operated by UP was the westbound City of Los Angeles, arriving at LA Union Station on May 2. Since then, Union Pacific has satisfied its common carrier requirements by hosting Amtrak trains (see § Hosted Amtrak trains).[Note 5]
September 4, 2007: a Union Pacific train derailment split the small town of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. About 16 cars derailed, most carrying salt that spilled into snow-like piles. The derailment interrupted traffic for about two hours.
June 24, 2012: three crew members were killed when two Union Pacific trains slammed into each other just east of Goodwell, Oklahoma, about 300 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. The eastbound train passed a stop signal on the main track and struck the westbound train in a siding about one mile (1.6 km) east of the meeting point. The crash triggered a diesel-fueled fireball that appeared to weld the locomotives together.
November 15, 2012: A UP train struck a parade float in Midland, Texas, killing four U.S. military veterans.
May 25, 2013: in Chaffee, Missouri, a Union Pacific train collided with a BNSF train at a level junction, injuring seven, and causing damages exceeding $10 million. The accident caused a Missouri Route M overpass to partially collapse and caused a fire. The investigation concluded the engineer most likely fell asleep, due to sleep apnea. The uncontrolled train violated four progressively more restrictive signals before colliding with the BNSF train at roughly 40 mph (64 km/h). Three months later, the Route M overpass reopened with a new design.
September 7, 2019: a Union Pacific train of two locomotives and three tank cars carrying liquefied petroleum gas derailed and cracked a support column of an overpass in Portland, Oregon. The six-lane Going Street overpass is the only public path to the major industrial area Swan Island for passenger vehicles and delivery vehicles. The crash left just two lanes safe to use until repairs can be made, which is speculated to take weeks to months. Since the initial crash, a third lane has been opened up. The derailment and crash occurred at the Union Pacific Albina Yard. The derailed train hit support columns for the eastbound North Going Street overpass. The preliminary cause of crash as provided by Union Pacific is "broken rails". There was nobody on board the train which was remotely operated at the time of crash. The railroad did not respond to The Oregonian's question on how far away the operator was or if having a conductor on-board would have made a difference in the outcome. Vigor, a ship builder and manufacturer with 900 employees on the Swan Island had to adjust employee shift to stagger commute time as a result of traffic delays.
San Antonio area
On June 28, 2004, a UP train collided with an idle BNSF train in a San Antonio suburb. In the course of the derailment, a 90-ton tank car carrying liquified chlorine was punctured. As the chlorine vaporized, a toxic "yellow cloud" formed, killing three and causing 43 hospitalizations. The costs of cleanup and property damaged during the incident exceeded $7 million.
Investigations of the Macdona incident revealed several serious safety lapses on the part of the Union Pacific and its employees, including employees not following the company's own safety rules. While the immediate cause of the derailment was the UP crew's "fatigue," chlorine tank cars had been improperly placed near the front of the train, a danger in the case of derailment.
The Macdona incident was not the first derailment in the San Antonio area. Between May and November 1994, Union Pacific trains derailed five times, killing at least 4 people. Between June 2004 and March 2005, 10 trains derailed, killing as many people.
In the aftermath of Macdona, the Federal Railroad Administration signed a compliance agreement with the railroad in which the railroad promised to rectify the "notable deficiencies" that regulators found. But the relative impunity UP seemed to exhibit regarding the derailment led to suggestions that the FRA was far "too cozy...to the railroads." In March 2005, Texas Governor Rick Perry supported a plan to reroute trains around large urban population centers in Texas, including San Antonio, but such a plan was purely voluntary and had no timetable associated.
In Eugene, Oregon, where pollution from a century-old railroad yard has been seeping into groundwater, the UP and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality launched a study of ground contamination in 2008. The pollutants are mostly petroleum hydrocarbons, industrial solvents, and metals.
In 2007, Union Pacific Railroad worked with the US EPA to develop a way to reduce locomotive exhaust emissions. They discovered that adding an oxidation catalyst filtering canister to the diesel engine's exhaust manifold and using ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel would reduce particulate emissions by about half, unburned hydrocarbons by 38 percent, and carbon monoxide by 82 percent.
The company's Fuel Master program rewards locomotive engineers who save the most fuel each month. The program has saved the company millions of dollars, much of which has been returned to the engineers. In 2006, the program's founder, Wayne Kennedy, received the John H. Chafee Environmental Award, and the program was recognized by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.
The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is a former Carnegie library in Council Bluffs, Iowa, that houses artifacts, photographs, and documents that trace the development of the railroad and the American West. The company pays upkeep on the privately-owned building, which houses part of Union Pacific's corporate collection, one of the oldest in the United States. Holdings include weapons from the late 19th and 20th centuries, outlaw paraphernalia, a sampling of the immigrants' possessions, and a photograph collection comprising more than 500,000 images.
^"M-10000 Streamliner Debuts". Union Pacific. Retrieved 2018. See also in the sidebar: "By 1936, Union Pacific's shiny new Streamliners had begun to attract passengers back to the railroad, but the Depression was keeping passenger counts low."
^1980 mileage is from Moody's Transportation Manual (1981); the ICC's Transport Statistics says Union Pacific System operated 8,614 route-miles at year end 1980, but the 1979 issue says 9,315 route-miles and the 1981 says 9,096, so their 1980 figures look unlikely.
Athearn, Robert G. (1971). Union Pacific Country (Reprinted ed.). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN978-0803208582. - covers impact of the railroad on the region it served from the 1860s to the 1890s.
Cahill, Marie; Piade, Lynne, eds. (1994). The history of the Union Pacific : America's great transcontinental railroad. New York: Smithmark. ISBN9780831737993. - heavily illustrated
Collins, Ryan Michael (2011). Irish Gandy Dancer : A Tale of Building the Transcontinental Railroad. Charleston, S.C.: Createspace. ISBN9781452826318.
Cooper, Bruce C., ed. (2004). Riding the Transcontinental Rails : Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad, 1865-1881. Philadelphia: Polyglot Press. ISBN978-1-4115-9993-2.
Galloway, John Debo (1989). The first transcontinental railroad : Central Pacific, Union Pacific. New York: Dorset Press. ISBN9780880294096.
Kelly, John (2009). Union Pacific Railroad : passenger trains of the city fleet photo archive. Hudson, Wis.: Iconografix. ISBN978-1-58388-236-8.