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The Union Pacific Railroad ( ), headquartered in Omaha, Nebraskamarker, is the largest and oldest operating railroad network in the United Statesmarker. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman.

UP's route map covers most of the central and western United States west of Chicagomarker and New Orleansmarker. As of 2005, UP operates on of track, of which it owns outright , both numbers representing the highest amount of any railroad currently operating in the United States. It has achieved this size as a result of 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 Dr. Thomas Clark Durant, the namesake of the city of Durant, Iowa, the first rails were laid in Omaha, Nebraskamarker. The Union Pacific Railroad was joined together with the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utahmarker, in 1869 hence creating the first transcontinental railroad in North America. Subsequently, UP took over three Mormon-built roads: the Utah Central Rail Road extending south from Ogden, Utahmarker, to Salt Lake Citymarker, the Utah Southern Railroad extending south from Salt Lake City into the Utah Valleymarker, and the Utah Northern Railroad extending north from Ogden into Idahomarker; and it built or absorbed local lines that gave it access to Denvermarker and to Portland, Oregonmarker, 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 Mexicomarker into Texasmarker (both parts of the Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf Railway).

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. This period saw the UP sell off some of its holdings; the Union Pacific Railway, Central Branch became the Central Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the Southern Branch was acquired by the newly-incorporated Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad in 1870. However, the UP soon recovered, and was strong enough to take control of Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) in 1901 and then was ordered in 1913 by the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker to surrender control of the same. UP also founded the Sun Valleymarker resort in Idahomarker in 1936, the UP engineering department in Omaha designed the first ski chairlift that summer. The MP and MKT both came back into the UP fold in the 1980s. In 1996, UP finally acquired SP in a transaction envisioned nearly a century earlier.

The headquarters of UP has been in Omahamarker, Nebraskamarker, since its inception. Currently they are housed in the Union Pacific Centermarker, completed in 2003. Other important UP facilities in Omaha have included the Union Pacific Railroad Omaha Shops Facility and the Harriman Dispatch Center.

UP:Chronological History

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, Californiamarker, 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, Pennsylvaniamarker until 1997, when Richard K. Davidson announced that it was moving to Dallasmarker 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: Arizonamarker, Arkansasmarker, Californiamarker, Coloradomarker, Idahomarker, Illinoismarker, Iowamarker, Kansasmarker, Louisianamarker, Minnesotamarker, Missourimarker, Montanamarker, Nebraskamarker, Nevadamarker, New Mexicomarker, Oklahomamarker, Oregonmarker, Tennesseemarker, Texasmarker, Utahmarker, Washingtonmarker, Wisconsinmarker, and Wyomingmarker. 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 (incomplete list). Each “service unit” is further divided into many different subdivisions, which represent segments of track ranging from mainlines to branch-lines.

Not including second, third, and fourth main line track, yard track, and siding track, UP directly operated some 36,206 miles (58,364 kilometers) of track, as of March 24, 2000. When the additional tracks are counted, 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 Statesmarker, Canadamarker and most recently, Mexicomarker.

In California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) maintains a database of crossings which can be found here:

Real estate holdings

Union Pacific Railroad is the largest landholder west of the Mississippi River and is second only to the United States government in overall landholdings within the United States.

Yards and facilities

Ogden, Utah yard

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 locomotives for use in Los Angeles basin rail yards.

Some of the more prominent rail facilities in UP’s system include:

Active hump yards

Hump yards work by using a small hill over which cars are pushed, before being released down a slope and switched automatically into cuts of cars, ready to be made into outbound trains. UP's active humps include:

Union Pacific Police Department

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 in most states where the railroad operates. 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 FBImarker when it was created in 1907.

Union Pacific Railroad Museum

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffsmarker, Iowa, houses one of the oldest corporate collections in the nation. It includes artifacts, photographs, and documents that trace the development of the railroad and the American West.

The completion of Union Pacific’s transcontinental railroad in 1869 helped shape the landscape and geography and brought tens of thousands of westward-bound immigrants to the American West.

The museum’s collection features weapons from the late 19th and 20th centuries, outlaw paraphernalia, a sampling of the immigrants’ possessions, and a photograph collection comprising more than 500,000 images.

In 2009, the America’s Power Factuality Tour stopped at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum to report on the railroad’s role in generating electricity in the United States.

Locomotive and rolling stock

Paint and colors

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 Federal Railroad Administration (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. This scheme is also know as Wings,Flags and Flares.

The first version of this scheme was used on the UP's streamlined trains in the 1940s, although a brown was used instead of grey. Passenger car, 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.
UP Locomotive hauling a CN train Edmonton, Canada

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 (UP 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.

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.

2008 locomotive roster

As of January 1, 2008, UP has 8,595 locomotives on its active roster.

Type Quantity
4-6-6-4 1
4-8-4 1
B40-8 91
C40-8 333
C40-8W 50
C41-8W 154
C4460AC 80
C44-9W 274
C44AC 968
C44AC/CTE 526
C45AC/CTE 775
C6044AC 176
C60AC 75
DDA40X 1
E9A 2
E9B 1
GP15-1 160
GP38-2 334
GP38AC 2
GP39-2 49
GP40 15
GP40-2 142
GP40-2P 2
GP40M-2 65
GP50 48
GP60 194
MP15DC 9
SD40-2 948
SD40T-2 24
SD40T-2R 84
SD50 10
SD60 85
SD60M 560
SD70ACe 321
SD70M 1455
SD9043AC 309
SD90MAC-H2 [0] All Retired
SW1500 18

Surviving merger partner locomotives

A former Southern Pacific GP38-2 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, and1 Denver and Rio Grande Western locomotive.These locomotives are 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,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 its 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, Wyomingmarker, depot until 1981 when a team of employee volunteers restored it to service. In 2007, it underwent repairs for service, and was back up and running in 2008 to continue its run.
  • 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 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.

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 Museummarker 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.

  • UP 18, 26. 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. These were ultimately retired due to rising fuel costs. Union Pacific GTELs can be seen on display at the Illinois Railway Museum and the Utah State Railroad Museum.
  • UP 618, a 2-8-0 at the Heber Valley Historic Railroadmarker.
  • UP 737 - A 4-4-0 was in the collection of Steamtown National Historic Sitemarker but has since been transferred to a museum.
  • UP 3977 is the only 4-6-6-4 Challenger class dual-service steam locomotive on static display. It is located in Cody Park in North Platte, Nebraskamarker.
  • UP 4004, 4005, 4006, 4012, 4014, 4017, 4018, 4023 - Union Pacific Big Boy 4-8-8-4 articulated steam locomotives. Eight out of 25 survive. Number 4018, currently residing at the Museum of the American Railroadmarker in Dallas, TXmarker, almost saw a return to operation in 1998 when a film director proposed restoring the locomotive for use in a movie. However, it has been 9 years since anything has been heard of this proposal, and it is considered to have been only a whim. The 4000's developed over 6290 horsepower at 42 mph and over 135,000 lbs tractive effort when starting. It accomplished this feat of shear power whilst not only being fast but also by being extremely reliable, breakdowns were seldom heard of.
  • UP 4466 - An 0-6-0 type built by Lima Locomotive Works in 1920, displayed at the California State Railroad Museummarker. It operated at the museum until 1999.
  • UP 6900 Centennial series - Several of the huge DDA40X diesel-electric locomotives have been saved. Other than 6936 that UP maintains in its heritage fleet, none of the remaining Centennials operate. However, 6930 at the Illinois Railway Museummarker has operating cab controls, allowing it to couple to another locomotive and control it.
  • UP 9000, a Union Pacific 9000 class 4-12-2 giant non-articulated freight locomotive, at the Fairplexmarker in Pomona, Californiamarker.

Passenger train service

Union Pacific operated through 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 Statesmarker. UP at various times operated the following named passenger trains:
  • Butte Special (operated between Salt Lake City and Butte, Montana)
  • Challenger (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway until October 1955, and thereafter the Milwaukee Road)
  • City of Denver (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway until October 1955, and thereafter the Milwaukee Road)
  • City of Las Vegas; later, the Las Vegas Holiday Special (1956–1967)
  • City of Los Angeles (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway until October 1955, and thereafter the Milwaukee Road)
  • City of Portland (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway until October 1955, and thereafter the Milwaukee Road)
  • City of Salina (1934–1940)
  • City of San Francisco (operated jointly with the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Southern Pacific Railroad; after October, 1955 the Milwaukee Road assumed operation of the Chicago-Omaha leg of the service)
  • City of St. Louis
  • Columbine (in service to Chicago and Denver, beginning in the 1920s)
  • Forty-Niner (operated between Chicago and Oakland)
  • Gold Coast (operated between Chicago and Oakland/Los Angeles)
  • Idahoan (operated between Cheyenne and Portland)
  • Los Angeles Limited (in service 1905)
  • Overland Flyer; renamed the Overland Limited in 1890 (1887–1963)
  • Pony Express (operated between Kansas City and Los Angeles)
  • Portland Rose (in service between Chicago and Portland, beginning in the 1920s)
  • San Francisco Overland (originally operated between Chicago and Oakland, later terminated only at St. Louis)
  • Spokane (operated between Spokane and Portland)
  • Utahn (operated between Cheyenne and Los Angeles)
  • Yellowstone Special (operated between Poncatello, Idaho and West Yellowstone, Montana)

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. Union Pacific's trains had a large rear window for better outlook from the rear of the train, to encourage passenger service .


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 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 2007 Annual Report to Investors, at the end of 2007 it had more than 50,000 employees, 8,721 locomotives, and 94,284 freight cars.

Broken down by specific type of car, owned and leased:

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

At the end of 2007 the average age of UP’s locomotive fleet was 14.8 years, the freight car fleet 28 years.

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)

Environmental record

Citing its development of a "green" locomotive fleet and energy conservation measures, the UP states it is "...committed to protecting the environment now and for future generations. Our employees, customers, shareholders and the communities we serve can expect our full compliance with all laws and regulations ... We will continue our leadership in caring for the environment while delivering the goods that America needs." In Eugene, Oregon, the UP and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are jointly studying ground contamination at the railroad's yard originating from over one hundred years ago, consisting mostly of petroleum hydrocarbons, industrial solvents, and metals. This has affected a nearby groundwater source.

Union Pacific Railroad has recently started an experimental method of reducing emissions from the engine exhaust of their locomotives. By adding an experimental oxidation catalyst filtering canister to the diesel engine's exhaust manifold, they are attempting to reduce the amount of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter generated, much like a catalytic converter in automobiles and trucks. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Vehicle Fuels and Emissions Laboratory provided most of the funding for the test. Using Ultra Low Sulfur diesel with the oxicat resulted in reduced particulate emissions by approximately 50 percent, unburned hydrocarbons by 38 percent and carbon monoxide by 82 percent.

See also



  2. UP: Union Pacific Begins Construction of $90 Million State-of-the-Art Intermodal Terminal in Southwest Bexar County
  5. See Union Pacific Environmental Management (online). Accessed 2009-09-15


  • Kelly, John (2009) Union Pacific Railroad - Photo Archive: Passenger Trains of the City Fleet Iconografix ISBN 978-1583882368

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