A few days before July 23rd,
Trains Magazine newswire had an article pertaining to
the Union Pacific train making its way east of Chi-town to Philadelphia for its East
Coast debut at the Republican Convention. It snaked its way silently through the old
New York Central line through Selkirk, NY, and headed south through Manville, NJ before turning west towards Philadelphia on the night of July 23rd. Of course, no one really knew the times and locations of the train until after the fact. Also, my family and I were on our way back from Strasburg, and if we knew of its travel arrangements, we could've caught sight of it as it pulled into the Philly area.
Jump ahead to Saturday. As you can imagine, once I learned of UP's location, I was going to be there at some point before it headed back home. And luckily, my wife was very understanding, and got up early on Saturday to come with me. Before I knew it, we were heading out on Route 70 toward Philly. I was pretty calm until we were on the ramp on the I-95 Broad Street Exit. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something large and yellow down on street level between the First Union Center and the Vet. I was now like a kid in a candy store. As we made our way among the traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian), we quickly came across our intended goal. After verifying a safe place to park with Philly's finest, we were getting out of the car and right in front of us were two locomotives, a boxcar, and two other Union Pacific cars.
As I was getting the camera ready, a Union Pacific worker driving a golf cart and told us that we shouldn't park there. I calmly responded by stating the police had told us it was okay to park where we were. He said they were trying to keep the area clear for a luncheon for the delegates later in the afternoon. No problem, we'll only be here a short period of time. He said okay, and drove away. We were not alone as a handful of other people were eyeing the train, paying no attention to the ongoings for the convention. I was in awe of the great condition of the train. From the 1955 E9 locomotives to the fifty foot double-door boxcar to the many passenger cars, some of which date back to 1915, this train was fantastic. The two locomotives were across the street, facing one another. Numbers 949 and 951 looked like they just rolled onto Union Pacific territory for the first time. Unfortunately, the rest of the train was behind the fenced property of the First Union Center. While we were there, final preparations for the convention were being made, including the addition of barbed wire fencing and repainting of the fence. We spent a good ten minutes walking along the sidewalk looking and getting photos of the cars (as best I could with the fence in the way). I snapped a whole roll of film before I knew it.
As we headed back to the car
to make our way home, the Union Pacific rep came back over to check on
us. I told him we were just getting ready to go when he asked us
if we wanted to see the cars. We had told him we had already done
He asked us if we wanted an inside tour of the cars. Before you could say Union Pacific, the three of us hopped onto the cart with him and were heading inside to get an unobstructed view of the cars. He was answering our questions as we drove among the cars. His one request was to not take any pictures of any of the people for the convention. That was no problem as I wasn't there to see them. Our final car was the Observation Car Shoshone. He offered to take our photo standing on the platform of the observation car. We were very thankful and were standing on a Union Pacific Observation Car built in 1915. We were then back to our car, very thankful to Thomas for what he had done for us. This was an event we will never forget. And while my nineteen-month-old son probably will not remember seeing the train, we have the pictures to show him of this eventful occasion. Unfortunately, the photo of the three of us did not take, and while I am sad the photo was not taken, I cannot complain, because if Thomas had not offered us the tour, we would not have experienced the cars up close.
Before viewing the photos yourself, here are some facts that we learned from Thomas. This is the first time the Union Pacific train ever ventured east of Chicago. (Of course, no one knows if it'll happen again.) Most of the cars are of UP heritage, though some came through UP's acquisition of other railroads such as SP, WP, and C&NW. Though he did not know which one, he even stated one of the cars was of CNJ heritage. One of the baggage cars was being used as the check-in point for the convention and the diners would host luncheons throughout the convention. Here are the photos, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
|A banner Union Pacific has put up outside the fence for the First Union Center, placed in the corner where the two rows of railcars have been set up. Only those with passes for the convention may gain access inside.
|Here are the two E9 locomotives as the are positioned, one across from the other. Locomotive numbers 949 and 951.
|A fifty foot double-door boxcar also accompanied the train.
The boxcar is in top-notch condition.
|Here is one of the many Observation Cars included in the thirty-five car consist. (Pardon the fence in the photos as my lens could not fit into the openings of the fence.)
|Car number 9005, Vista Dome Lounge (as UP calls them) Walter Dean.
|Sleeper Car Wyoming.
|Vista Dome Lounge Harriman.
|Car number 9009, Vista Dome Lounge City of San Francisco.
|Here is a close-up photo of Vista Dome Lounge Walter Dean.
|Sleeper Car Powder River.
|Car 6203, Club Lounge Car Sun Valley.
|A Union Pacific HEP car (they have two on the consist), and Deluxe Sleeper Green River.
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