YERMO A piece of history will visit the area as a historic Union Pacific steam locomotive is set to stop at Yermo Yard Saturday morning.

Locomotive No. 844, built in 1944, will be stopping in Yermo after traveling more than 2,900 miles throughout the Southwest.

No. 844 is the last steam train purchased by Union Pacific Railroad. The locomotive was in operation until 1957, where it was then saved from being scrapped in 1960 to be used for special service.

Aaron Hunt, spokesperson for Union Pacific, said the train is visiting communities on its tour through nine states to and from Cheyenne, Wyo. The tour is a celebration of the company's 150th anniversary next year.

"A lot of the communities where we operate trains, those people grew up around the railroad," Hunt said. "The railroad provided the seed bed that blossomed into these communities that now have their own history and their own community."

The train's conductor, Ed Dickens, said No. 844 is about 450 tons, standing tall above its onlookers. He said the locomotive is fast and large, though it is still "very graceful."

"It's unlike anything you've ever really seen in the modern era," Dickens said. "It was built in an era when we built big machines. It's a good ol' American-made locomotive."

Dickens feels the neatest thing about No. 844 is the public's reaction to the massive machine.

The locomotive was renovated in 2000 where the machine's running gear, pumps, piping, valves, springs and interior were refurbished.

Dickens said the train will be traveling to Yermo from Colton and is expected to arrive at Yermo Yard at around 10:30 a.m. The train will be staying overnight, leaving early the next morning. The locomotive will be available for public viewing until 5 p.m. where the souvenir car will likely be open to viewers.

Mark Youngblood, a Union Pacific employee who works in Yermo, said he is proud the train will be stopping in his community.

"Here you have a little bit of history that's visiting us that people have a once in a lifetime opportunity to see," Youngblood said. "We're proud of it."

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com

See Locomotive No. 844
Union Pacific Transload Facility, on Dusty Trail at Jellico Street in Yermo
10:30 a.m. Saturday