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LCCA 2010 Convention Daily News Report - Monday, July 26, 2010

The LCCA Special train with a UP Heritage Fleet steam locomotive and gleaming yellow UP cars in tow was ready to accept a trainload of club members on Monday morning. The UP #844 locomotive was up front because the #3985 Challenger was set aside just a few days before for refurbishing its front truck.

Volunteer car captains arrived early and gathered in the UP Baggage Car to receive instructions and their placards as wayfinding signs. They went to their cars and readied themselves to welcome and assist club members as passengers.

An Amtrak passenger train was scheduled to arrive at Denver Union Station near the time of our planned departure at 9 a.m., so our train was parked at a ready track until after that train appeared and departed. When Track One became available, the #844 engineer backed our train to the station platform for boarding by LCCAers.

A special passenger joined us for this trip: Joshua (age 6) and his parents—a Make-A-Wish Foundation family. UP conductor Jim Coker welcomed them at the station platform and presented Joshua with a guest conductor’s cap, a VIP ticket, and a #844 commemorative pin. Joshua boarded the Texas Eagle car with the understanding that, once the train was underway, he could roam the train. He wanted to see the entire train!

The UP Steam Team arranged two photo-video fly-bys near Nunn, CO. Passengers disembarked from the train, lined up a safe distance parallel to the track, and gathered action images as the train backed up on the main line and then rumbled past the photo-video line. Later, the crew provided a third fly-by along the right-of-way south of Cheyenne. Along the route, we saw a group of three elk. Apparently, they knew it wasn’t hunting season because they lingered in the pasture so all could see them.

We arrived in Cheyenne in mid-afternoon, and motor coaches were ready for us. As we boarded the coaches, the USAF Thunderbird flight team roared into view overhead and executed a precision maneuver in the sky. Half the group went to a local Holiday Inn for a BBQ lunch, and the other half went to the UP Steam Shop. Later, the groups swapped venues, so all had a meal and a shop visit. The #3985 Challenger was in the shop for work on its leading truck. A few days before our trip, the truck was removed to repair its TRAM (the tracking of the wheels) and avoid excessive wear on the flanges. John, a UP Steam Shop crewman, explained the work in progress.

Later, the #844 returned to its place at the shop and we saw a special effect: the text “LIONEL LINES” was applied to the sides of the UP black tender of the #844 as a tribute to the LCCA passengers. Thanks, UP Steam Team!

We returned to Denver aboard the motor coaches after a wonderful day on the rails.

Volunteer car captains used large placards to guide LCCA passengers toward their cars on the train.

UP conductor Jim Coker presents a guest conductor cap to MAWF youngster Joshua (age 6) along with a VIP ticket and a #844 commemorative pin. Local media were there to capture the “occasion.”

The UP Steam Team arranged two photo-video fly-bys at Nunn, CO. Club members left the parked train and lined up safely back from and parallel to the track. The #844 backed up and then rumbled forward as the image-gatherers clicked away on the sideline. Later along the route, the UP Steam Team provided a third fly-by.

The view is better from the top! This couple and others seated in the vista domes enjoyed a “hawk’s eye view” of the passing landscape.

When the #844 returned to its place at the UP Steam Shop, we saw the LIONEL LINES white lettering applied to the sides of the black UP tender. Thanks, UP Steam Team!

Photography by Ed Richter
Text by Mike Mottler