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Locomotive lumbers through Manteca on heritage tour
Union Pacific Railroad’s historic steam locomotive No. 844 came through the edge of Manteca Wednesday afternoon at the ACE station on West Yosemite Avenue. - photo by Photo by Steve Ridolfi
The Union Pacific Railroad’s historic steam locomotive No. 844 passed through Manteca and Lathrop early Wednesday afternoon on its “Western Heritage Tour,” enroute to Stockton.

The engine pulling a dozen passenger and tool cars and a club car left Oakland at 8 a.m. and made its way through many cities – stopping at some – and traveling over the Altamont before descending on the Central Valley.

It traveled from its base in Wyoming to California on a 32-day, four-state tour.

Steam locomotive No. 844 was the last to be built for Union Pacific Railroad and was delivered in 1944.  A high speed passenger engine, it was assigned to pull trains including the Overland Limited, the Los Angeles Limited and the Portland Rose and Challenger.

When diesel-electric locomotives took over the passenger train duties, No 844 was placed in freight service in Nebraska for two years beginning in 1957.  In 1960 it was saved from the scrap yard and it was held for special service use.

The train has run hundreds of thousands of miles for Union Pacific’s Heritage program.  It has made appearances at Expo ’74 in Spokane, the 1981 opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans and the 50th anniversary Celebration of the Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.

Referred to as UP’s “Living Legend,” No 844 returned to service in 2005 after one of the most extensive steam locomotive overhauls in the United States since the 1950s.

The work began in 2000 and included its running gear, pumps, piping, valves and springs.  In addition to replacing its firebox, extensive work was done on its boiler and the interior of the cab was refurbished.

A GPS transmitter has been installed on one of the rail cars that is integrated with a map on UP’s website.  The public will be able to access the route maps with varying amounts of detail.

The GPS system updates the map every five minutes showing the location of No. 844.