The retired Southern Pacific steam engine that once powered the Heber Creeper stopped in Ogden for the weekend before heading on to Texas and a new future.
The engine will be used to operate an "Orient Express-style" dinner-mystery train between Fort Worth and Dallas, said Ed McLaughlin, president of Tarantula Corp., the company that bought the engine and five large diner cars from the owners of the Heber Creeper scenic railroad.The Heber Creeper is an antique tourist and recreation steam train that operates in Heber Valley during the summer months.
The engine laid over in Ogden just long enough to be unloaded from a truck and placed on a flatbed train car.
McLaughlin said the company was able to acquire the engine after an attempt to expand the Heber Creeper into Park City failed.
"Steam engines are harder to come by these days, and we have a bigger market (for recreation trains) up in Texas," he said.
New London Railroad, owner of the Heber Creeper, wanted to connect Heber Valley with Park City for a year-round recreational railroad.
The steam engine, No. 1744, ran in Heber City for 10 years. Before that, it was on display for a number of years in Corinne.
In its heyday, the steam engine was used to pull short passenger trains in Arizona, New Mexico and California, McLaughlin said.
The engine was built at the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia around the turn of the century.
McLaughlin, a former Brigham Young University student who helped found the Heber Creeper before moving to Texas, said New London Railroad acquired the bulk of its equipment 15 years ago when the company was interested in expanding into Park City to run ski trains or tourist trains for non-skiers.
"We ran dinner trains in Heber as early as the '70s, but the season is so short that it's not economically viable," McLaughlin said. "They're still running trains (in Heber City), but they don't need all that equipment up there."
Now, New London is negotiating with the state, hoping that state officials will either buy the recreational railroad or lower its operating costs.