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Steam & Excursion > Audio: Union Pacific 3985 Opens Up

Date: 03/03/21 07:50
Audio: Union Pacific 3985 Opens Up
Author: MaryMcPherson

Especially for those of us in the relatively flat Midwest, we were not accustomed to hearing Union Pacific Challenger #3985 have to work.  Even a good sized excursion train would not be much of a challenge for the locomotive.  Occasionally though, one could plan for being in the right place at the right time.  Even so, I wasn't quite prepared for what I experienced.

On June 19, 2001, #3985 led a round trip from St. Louis to Gorham, Illinois, during that year's national convention of the N.R.H.S.  I was back in the radio business, and took the day off to be in position to catch the train approaching and departing Gorham.

A few days before the run, I went to a farmhouse just north of Gorham and asked the property owned if I could have permission to use his driveway paralleling the track as my setup location.  He was most agreeable, telling me he wouldn't be home before adding "you're the only one who asked.  So if anyone else comes back here, run their ass off."

As it turned out, no one did.

Which brings us to the 19th.  The train has turned and been serviced, and is heard easing out of Gorham.  Pulling onto Main Two from the Gorham yard, #3985 slipped as it went through the switch and the slip can just be heard as the recording begins.  The locomotive takes it easy as it approaches; until the last car clears the switch.  With that switch being the entrance to CTC territory at a controlled signal, the engineer is able to open the throttle wide and the locomotive's twin stacks errupted with an explosion of sound I never heard from 3985 before and never would again.

As the train fades into the distance a stack train is heard in Gorham, warning the lingering crowd of its presence as it headed south off the Chicago Subdivision.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions

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Date: 03/03/21 09:38
Re: Audio: Union Pacific 3985 Opens Up
Author: SantaFeCF7

I feel bad for taking 3985 for granted years ago. Always thought she would be around. Only saw her live pulling into KC Union Station and never took the time to find her on the mainline. Man do I kick myself in the rear now! :/ 

Date: 03/03/21 13:48
Re: Audio: Union Pacific 3985 Opens Up
Author: ProAmtrak

I saw her twice, was an awesome steam engine!

Posted from Android

Date: 03/03/21 21:12
Re: Audio: Union Pacific 3985 Opens Up
Author: Frisco1522

I rode the engine going to Gorham in 2010 and coming out of a slow order south of Dupo, Steve widened on her and she made some serious noise.   Next Day, again on the engine, I got a ride from downtown back to home at Pacific with Ed and going through Maplewood he did some great window rattling.  
She sounded great both times.  Wish I could have heard those engines on Sherman Hill.

Date: 03/05/21 21:34
Re: Audio: Union Pacific 3985 Opens Up
Author: coach

Mary, that is one of the best recordings I've heard of that engine, and I have an extensive LP & CD collection of RR audio.  Great work!

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