Ol' engine 833, which has stood stoically in Pioneer Park since 1972, will soon move once again.
This time, however, the move won't be accompanied by bursts of steam or thousands of gallons of water that once propelled the historic locomotive around the United States. Instead, the move will require a Herculean effort of cranes and wide-load semitrailers.In an effort to protect the locomotive from harsh weather, the Utah Railroad Historical Society will relocate 833 to its museum at Ogden's Union Station.
Moving the locomotive - it only becomes a train when pulling cars - is not part of the Pioneer Park makeover currently under way, said Val Pope, director of the Salt Lake City Parks Division.
"It doesn't have much impact on the park whether or not they keep the engine," Pope said. "But for the historical value of the train, it is very important."
The Union Pacific engine was built in 1942, and during its 30-year run pulled both passenger and freight cars around the United States, including many trips through Utah. The engine could pull as many as 12 cars at speeds of up to 90 mph, said Bob Geier, executive director of the Utah State Railroad Museum.
Now, the locomotive is one of only three so-called "Northern" engines left in the country and the only one of its model class. Northern engines are characterized by their wheel configurations. Three different model classes were made.
That historical importance necessitates extra caution in moving the locomotive, Geier said. "It's a dinosaur from the past, and we need to be real careful with it," he said.
Geier said he hopes the move will take place before the end of the year. Security will be slightly increased beforehand to protect the locomotive's components.
"The worst enemy of these artifacts are your railfans," Geier said. "They will come in and rape this."
Although Geier has a ballpark estimate of the cost involved with moving the train, he won't disclose the figure until after bids are submitted by companies vying for the contract to move 833. Bids are due by Oct. 1.
Some potential bidders made a site visit to Pioneer Park Thursday morning.
Raising the money through private donations has taken more than two years.
Once at the museum in Ogden, 833 will be renovated and placed on display, although Geier doubts the locomotive will ever run again. Getting the 833 to run would cost almost $2 million.
Simply getting the old steam engine into the Utah State Railroad Museum is accomplishment enough for Geier, who has discussed bringing the train to Ogden for more than four years.
"It's a very unique engine," he said, noting the museum had pictures of the locomotive moving through the Ogden station when it still ran for Union Pacific. "We are very lucky."