Barring a white-out blizzard, on February 7, 8, and 9, 2011, four pieces of railroad equipment will be moved from various places around Laramie, Wyoming, to Railroad Heritage Park located just south of the historic Laramie Railroad Depot. This move was originally scheduled to happen a year ago, but those plans failed to materialize. We sincerely hope that this year's efforts will be successful.
Wasatch Railroad Contractors, the firm that the City hired for this project, subcontracted with Black Hills Trucking, from Casper WY, to handle the moves. Black Hills Trucking will leave Casper at 5 AM on Monday, February 7, with three trucks and two cranes, arriving at the engine between 9 AM and 10 AM. The engine and tender are currently located at 6th St. and Canby St. in LaBonte Park, Laramie.
Between 11 AM and noon, the cranes will move into position, one on each side of the engine, and lift it. Then a trailer will be backed under the engine and the engine will be lowered. The truck, trailer, and engine will move forward onto 6th street and park while the tender is placed on a second trailer.
Between 1 PM and 2 PM the two trucks will head south on 6th street for Railroad Heritage Park, escorted by the Laramie Police Department. The move will take about 45 minutes.
About 3 PM the engine and tender will arrive at the Depot and unloading will begin, a process that will take one or two hours. The trucks, trailers and cranes will then head for the snow plow and bunk car, currently located in Laramie's West Side, just west of Cedar St. between University and Fremont.
Tuesday morning, February 8, the snow plow and bunk car will be loaded onto trailers and moved to RR Heritage Park. They will proceed north on Cedar, east across the Curtiss Street viaduct, and then south on 3rd St. to the Park. If all goes well the caboose will be moved that afternoon. Otherwise, the caboose will be moved on Wednesday, February 9.
Once assembled, the equipment will re-create a 1950s era snow train used to keep the rail lines open in the fierce Wyoming winters. It will be a tribute to the hard working men and women of Laramie and the West who braved the elements to keep the passenger and freight trains running. The train will not only serve an historical function, but it will also be "coherent", meaning that it could have existed in the real world, operating in exactly this assemblage. This is rare for static displays.
It is seldom that one sees any piece of railroad equipment riding on a truck through city streets. This is an opportunity to see an entire train move, albeit spread over several days.
The train consists of the following equipment:
Wedge snow plow – Union Pacific snow plow 900015, now located in Laramie's West Side. It was built in the UP Pocatello shops in 1953 and was converted from a steam engine tender. The original number was 015. It was featured on the cover of The Streamliner, Vol. 6, No. 3, in action blasting through a snow drift near Strasburg, Colorado in 1982.
Steam engine – Union Pacific 535, now in LaBonte Park in Laramie. It was built by Baldwin in 1903. It is a 2-8-0 Consolidation and was originally part of the Oregon Short Line. It worked the Laramie yards and the U.P. Coalmont branch in the 1950s.
Bunk car – built by Ralston Steel Car Company for the U.P. in 1929. It began life as an A-50-12 automobile car, part of series 152001-152500, was converted to a box car in 1940, and then into a six-man bunk car in the late 1940s. An article about the U.P.'s bunk cars, which includes a photo of a car similar to ours, appeared in The Streamliner, Vol. 16, No. 3.
Caboose – Union Pacific 25232, built in 1951 with original number 3932. It is a class CA-5 caboose, one of a set of 100 such cars built by the U.P. in its Omaha shops. This was the first class of steel cabooses built in the U.P. shops. In the 1970s the caboose was upgraded with trucks that gave it a smoother ride. It served on the Maryville, KS, branch until it was retired.
The bunk car actually led to the creation of RR Heritage Park. Two years ago the car was scheduled to succumb to a salvage company's cutting torch. The effort to save it let to a whirlwind of activity which culminated in the Park.
Railroad Heritage Park is a joint project between the Laramie Railroad Depot Association and the City of Laramie. For more details on this park, the equipment, and up to date information on the schedule for the moves see the Association's website at www.laramiedepot.org (Click on "News" for info about the move; and on "About – Railroad Heritage Park" for info about the park and equipment.)
Hope you can be there to watch this once in a lifetime event!