Union Pacific 844 was one of 10 locomotives that were ordered by Union Pacific in 1944 and were designated as class FEF-3.
The FEF-3 class was similar to the earlier FEF-2 class as both were designed as passenger engines and pulled such trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger.
UP 844 was reassigned to freight service when diesel-electric locomotives took over passenger service and operated from 1957 to 1959 in Nebraska. It was saved from scrapping in 1960. It was chosen for restoration and is now used on company and public excursion trains, along with revenue freight during ferry moves.
The FEF-3 class locomotives represented the epitome of dual service steam locomotive development, as funds and research were being concentrated into the development of diesel electric locomotives. Like the rest of Union Pacific’s FEF-3 locomotives, UP 844 was originally designed to burn coal, but was later converted to run on fuel oil.Some enthusiasts think it could handle 26 passenger cars at over 100 mph (161 km/h) on straight and level track; they would say it was designed to safely operate up to 120 mph (193 km/h) with its one-piece cast-steel bed frame, 80-inch (2,032 mm) drivers, massive boiler/firebox and lightweight reciprocating parts, which were common on late-era steam locomotives. (UP’s timetables showed a speed limit for steam locomotives of 80 mph.)