Union Pacific Railroad

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Union Pacific Railroad
System map
Union Pacific system map
Locale United States from Chicago, Illinois, and cities along the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast
Dates of operation 1862 – present
Track gauge ft 8½ in (1435 mm) (standard gauge)
Headquarters Omaha, Nebraska

The Union Pacific Railroad Template:Reporting marks (NYSE: UNP), headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman.[1][2]

UP's route map covers most of the central and western United States west of Chicago and New Orleans. It has achieved this size thanks to purchasing a large number of other railroads, notably the Missouri Pacific, Chicago and North Western, Western Pacific, Missouri-Kansas-Texas, and the Rio Grande (including the Southern Pacific). Currently, Union Pacific owns 26% of Ferromex while Grupo Mexico owns the remaining 74%.

UP's chief railroad competitor is the BNSF Railway, which covers much of the same territory.


The Union Pacific Railroad was incorporated on July 1, 1862 in the wake of the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. Under the guidance of its dominant stockholder Thomas C. Durant the first rails were laid in Omaha, Nebraska. They were part of the railroads that came together at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869 as the first transcontinental railroad in North America. Subsequently, UP took over the Utah Central extending south from Ogden, Utah, through Salt Lake City, and the Utah & Northern, extending from Ogden through Idaho into Montana, and it built or absorbed local lines that gave it access to Denver and to Portland, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest. It acquired the Kansas Pacific (originally called the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, though in essence a separate railroad). It also owned narrow gauge trackage into the heart of the Colorado Rockies and a standard gauge line south from Denver across New Mexico into Texas.

File:Directors upr.jpg
Directors of the Union Pacific Railroad gather on the 100th meridian, which later became Cozad, Nebraska, approximately 250 miles (400km) 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.

UP was entangled in the Crédit Mobilier scandal of 1872. Its early troubles led to bankruptcy during the 1870s, the result of which was reorganization of the Union Pacific Railroad as the Union Pacific Railway on January 24, 1880, with its dominant stockholder being Jay Gould. The new company also declared bankruptcy, in 1893, but emerged on July 1, 1897, reverting to the original name, Union Pacific Railroad. Such minor changes in corporate titles were a common result of reorganization after bankruptcy among American railroads. The recovered railroad was strong enough to take control of Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) in 1901 and then was ordered in 1913 by the U.S. Supreme Court to surrender control of the same. UP also founded the Sun Valley resort in Idaho. In 1996, UP finally acquired SP in a transaction envisioned nearly a century earlier.

From 1948 to the early 1970s 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. They were retired due to rising fuel costs. Two of them can be seen in museums.

The headquarters of UP has been in Omaha, Nebraska, since its inception, currently in the Union Pacific Center, completed in 2003.

Union Pacific Corporation

In 1986 UP purchased Overnite Transportation, a fairly major less-than-truckload shipping carrier. UP divested itself of Overnite Trucking through an IPO in 2004.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, UP purchased several non-railroad companies, such as Skyway Freight Systems of Watsonville, California, and United States Pollution Control, Inc., but by 2000, following the appointment of Richard K. Davidson as CEO, it had divested itself of all non-railroad properties except for Overnite Trucking, and its holding company for logistical technology, Fenix Enterprises.

The Union Pacific Corporation (not the railroad itself) was located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, until 1997, when Richard K. Davidson announced that it was moving to Dallas in September of that year. Two years later, on the sale of Skyway and the impending divestiture of Overnite the UP corporate headquarters moved to Omaha to join the headquarters of the railroad.

Current trackage

Primarily concentrated west of the Mississippi River, UP directly owns and operates track in 23 U.S. states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. For administrative purposes, its network is divided into 21 “service units”: Chicago, Council Bluffs, Commuter Operations, Denver, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Kansas City, Livonia, Los Angeles, North Little Rock, North Platte, Portland, Roseville, San Antonio, Saint Louis, Tucson, Twin Cities, Utah, and Wichita. Each “service unit” is further divided into many different subdivisions, which represent segments of track ranging from 300-mile mainlines to 10-mile branch-lines.

Not including second, third, and fourth main line trackage, yard trackage, and siding trackage, UP directly operated some 36,206 miles (58,364 kilometers) of track, as of March 24, 2000. When the additional tracks are counted, however, the amount of track that it has direct control over rises to 54,116 miles (87,091 kilometers).

UP has also been able to reach agreements with competing railroads, mostly BNSF, that allow the railroad to operate its own trains with its own crews on hundreds of miles of competing railroads’ main tracks.

Furthermore, due to the practice of locomotive leasing and sharing undertaken by the Class I railroads, UP locomotives occasionally show up on competitors' tracks throughout the United States, Canada and most recently, Mexico.

Yards and facilities

File:Ogden UP yard.JPG
Ogden Utah yard
File:UNION PACIFIC Y2513 20070228.jpg
One of the 20 new 2,000 hp "Green Goat" locomotives manufactured for Union Pacific's "Green" Fleet by RailPower Technologies

Because of the large size of UP, hundreds of yards throughout its rail network are needed to effectively handle the daily transport of goods from one place to another. To reduce overall emissions, Union Pacific is acquiring a new generation of environmentally friendly locomotive for use in Los Angeles basin rail yards.

Among the more prominent rail yards in UP’s system include:

Union Pacific Police Department

When Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang held up a Union Pacific train, this posse was organized to give chase. L to R: Standing, Unidentified; On horse, George Hiatt, T. Kelliher, Joe Lefors, H. Davis, S. Funk, Thomas Jefferson Carr.[3]

Like most other major railroads, Union Pacific maintains a functioning police department staffed with Special Agents with jurisdiction over crimes against the railroad. Special Agents have federal and state arrest powers and can enforce laws even off railroad property. Special Agents typically investigate major incidents such as derailments, sabotage, grade crossing accidents, and hazardous material accidents and minor issues such as trespassing on the railroad right of way, vandalism/graffiti, and theft of company property or customer product.

Special Agents often coordinate with local, state, and federal law enforcement on issues concerning the railroad and are dispatched nationally through UP Headquarters in Omaha. The UP Police Department and the term "Special Agent" were models for the FBI when it was created in 1907.

Paint and colors

File:UP 9214 19910510 CA Cajon.jpg
Union Pacific #9214, a GE Dash 8-40C, shows the standard UP diesel locomotive livery on May 10, 1991.

UP's basic paint scheme for its diesel-electric locomotives is the oldest still in use by a major railroad. The bottom 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 red divides this from the Harbor Mist Gray (a fairly light gray) used for the body and roof above that point. A red line is also painted at the bottom of the locomotive body, but this color has gradually become yellow as new 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. Lettering and numbering are in red, with black outlines. Some locomotives (historically passenger locomotives, and some recent units from 2000 on) have white-outlined blue "wings" on the nose. More recently, some units have been repainted with a large, billowing Stars and Stripes with the corporate motto "Building America" on the side, where the 'UNION PACIFIC' lettering is normally positioned.

The first version of this scheme was used on the UP's streamlined trains in the 1930s, although a brown was used instead of 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.

In the second half of 2005, UP unveiled a new set of EMD SD70ACe locomotives in "Heritage Colors," painted in schemes reminiscent of railroads acquired by UP since the 1980s. The engine numbers match the year that the predecessor railroad was absorbed into Union Pacific. The three locomotives already repainted commemorate the Missouri Pacific (UP 1982), Western Pacific (UP 1983), and Missouri-Kansas-Texas (UP 1988) railroads. Three engines were also painted in the colors of other UP predecessors: Chicago and North Western (bought by UP in 1995) and Southern Pacific (1996), Denver and Rio Grande Western (which had purchased the SP in 1988 but kept the larger system's name). The D&RG Unit was unveiled in Denver in June, the C&NW was unveiled in Chicago in July and the SP unit was unveiled in Roseville, California in August 2006.

UP recently unveiled another specially painted SD70ACe: 4141 has "George Bush 41" on the sides and its paint scheme resembles that of Air Force One.

UP Locomotive hauling a CN train Edmonton, Canada

Model railroad enthusiasts were upset by UP's insistence on collecting royalties for the use of all railroad logos owned by the UP for use on model railroading equipment. In July 2006 UP announced that it would use the income from the licensing program to enhance the Heritage Programs of the company. In November 2006, however, the railroad reached an agreement with model railroad manufacturer M.T.H. Electric Trains whom it sued in 2005, which resulted in the railroad discontinuing the collection of royalties from all model railroad manufacturers.[4]

Surviving merger partner locomotives

File:UP GP38-2 588.jpg
A former Southern Pacific locomotive renumbered with UP "patch" markings.

As of August 27, 2006, UP operates 50 Southern Pacific, 36 St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt), 2 Chicago and North Western, and 1 Denver and Rio Grande Western locomotive still in the former railroads' paint. In addition, many locomotives have been "patch" 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 allows UP to number locomotives into its roster, yet it takes less time and money than it does to perform a complete repaint into UP colors. As of July 31, 2005, UP rostered 492 "patches", consisting of 37 Chicago and North Western (whose CNW logos have been hidden by the "patches"), 445 Southern Pacific, 47 St. Louis Southwestern, and 23 Denver and Rio Grande Western.

Historic locomotives

#68, one of the Union Pacific's turbine locomotives.

Alone among modern railroads, UP maintains a small fleet of historic locomotives for special trains and hire, in Cheyenne, Wyoming roundhouse. The roundhouse is just south of the historic depot.

  • UP 844 is a 4-8-4 Northern 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. A mechanical failure occurred on June 24, 1999, in which the boiler tubes from the 1996 overhaul, being made of the wrong material, collapsed inside the boiler and put the steam locomotive out of commission. The UP steam crew successfully repaired it and returned it to service on November 10, 2004. It is the only steam locomotive to never be officially retired from a North American Class I railroad.
  • UP 3985 is a 4-6-6-4 Challenger class dual-service steam locomotive. It is the largest steam locomotive still in operation anywhere in the world. Withdrawn from service in 1962, it was stored in the UP roundhouse until 1975, when it was moved to the employees' parking lot outside the Cheyenne, Wyoming, depot until 1981 when a team of employee volunteers restored it to service.
  • UP 951, 949 and 963B are a trio of streamlined General Motors Electro-Motive Division E9 passenger locomotives built in 1955. They are used to haul the UP business cars and for charter specials. While externally they are 1955 vintage locomotives, the original twin 1200 hp 12-cylinder 567 series engines have been replaced with single EMD 16-645E 2000 hp (1.5 MW) engines and the electrical and control equipment similarly upgraded, making them more modern locomotives under the skin. Some refer to the units as "E38-2" units, as the internal equipment was taken from wrecked GP38-2 locomotives. 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 to increase safety in the event of collision.
  • UP 6936 is an EMD DDA40X "Centennial" diesel-electric locomotive. These were the largest diesel locomotives ever built and were manufactured specifically for UP.
  • UP 5511 is a 2-10-2 steam locomotive. This locomotive is very rarely ever heard of, due to the fact that it was never donated for public display. This locomotive is reportedly in excellent condition, and a restoration probably would not take more than a couple of weeks. The only thing keeping it from being restored is that it would be limited to 40 mph or lower due to its large cylinders and small drivers. As of August 2004, this locomotive is being offered for sale by UP.

In addition there are a number of other locomotives kept in storage for possible future restoration. Rio Grande (DRGW) F9B 5763 is one of the units in storage, 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 & Northwestern F7 #401, used in Chicago Commuter Service, also was retained by UP.

Additionally, 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.

Among the former tenants was Southern Pacific 1518 (The First Production SD7 (ex EMD demo 990), transferred to the Illinois Railway Museum after sometime in storage in the UP shops.

Preserved locomotives

Union Pacific 618 operates at the Heber Valley Historic Railroad

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.

Passenger train service

Union Pacific operated though passenger service over its historic "Overland Route" between 1869 until May 1, 1971. The last passenger train operated by UP was the westbound City of Los Angeles. After May 1, 1971 Amtrak assumed operation of long-distance passenger operations in the United States. UP at various times operated the following named passenger trains:

UP Coach #5437, photographed as it stopped in Laramie, Wyoming on May 30, 1970.

Currently, UP operates passenger service for Metra:

Today Amtrak operates no Long Distance trains that were originally operated by Union Pacific, they do operate trains once run by companies now owned by Union Pacific including the Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, and California Zephyr.


UP was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine. It was named "Most Military Friendly Employer in America" for 2005. For the third consecutive year, UP has been selected by LATINA Style magazine as one of the LATINA Style 50 best companies for Latina (female Hispanic) employees in the United States. UP also scored 79 in Human Rights Campaigns Corporate Equality Index rating companies on their protection and benefits for the GLBT community, offering protection in their EEO statements and benefits for domestic partners.

Facts and figures

According to UP’s 2003 Annual Report to Investors, at the end of 2003 it had more than 48,000 employees, 7,861 locomotives, and 87,725 freight cars.

Broken down by specific type of car, UP owned:

In addition, it owns 6,950 different pieces of maintenance of way work equipment.

At the end of 2003 the average age of UP’s locomotive fleet was 14.3 years, the freight car fleet 24.5 years.

Union Pacific Museum in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa

Company officers

Presidents of the Union Pacific Railroad:

Chief Executive Officers, Presidents, and Chairmen of the Union Pacific Corporation (parent corporation of the railroad)

  • John Kenefick (several months in 1986)
  • Drew Lewis (1986–1997)
  • Richard K. Davidson (1997– January 2006)
  • James R. Young (January 2006)


See also

External links

Wikimedia Commons
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Union Pacific Railroad

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