Thursday, June 26, 2014

Random Ramblings - When Runbys Were Runbys

Union Pacific 8444; Narrows, Colo.; July 16, 1982
A staple of the railroad excursion is the photo runby, where passengers are unloaded from the train (often at a scenic location), the train is backed up and then makes a furious run forwards past the passengers as cameras click away. No Class I railroad was better at the photo runby as Union Pacific. Operating in the wide open spaces of Colorado and Wyoming, there was plenty of room for 200 or more people to unload and get photos of the train with no other photographers in the shot. UP's trips over Sherman Hill between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyo., were legen -- wait for it -- dary!

The 1982 convention of the National Railway Historical Society was held in Denver, Colo., and one trip operated during the event was a steam excursion from the Mile High City to Sterling. The trip was powered by UP 4-8-4 No. 8444 (originally numbered 844 and since returned to that number). The steam crew really knew how to put on the show; being an oil-burner, it was easy to get a black plume of smoke out of the stack for the benefit of the cameras. But perhaps no runby was quite as spectacular as the one at Narrows (above). This remains the largest plume of smoke I have ever seen come out of a locomotive during a photo runby. You can probably go back to Narrows now and still smell the oil in the air. There are still steam-powered rail excursions and there are still photo runbys, but nothing quite like this.

1 comment:

Yonkers Rails said...

That is spectacular!

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