As seen here, Union Pacific is readying the never-retired 4-8-4 Northern steam engine #844 for it's annual series of trips between Denver and Cheyenne's Frontier Days. I've chased the 844 numerous times, but never to Cheyenne, oddly enough. Nonetheless, I know others like Skip W that have already greased up their tripods and cleaned their lenses. For some, chasing is a hobby, others a diversion, but for folks like Skip, it's a passion.
The route will follow that of the Denver Pacific, the first railroad to connect Denver with the outside world by rail in 1870, six years before statehood and our nation's centennial. Those were the days of ornamental steam, when antlers and whale-oil lamps sat above link-and-pin couplers and wooden cowcatchers. Like the Cheyenne Frontier Days itself, the 844 is more than just a working anachronism. It's a functioning mode of transportation, and the industrial age technology belies it's youth. While the 844 was built as UP class FEF-3 in 1944, over 74 years after 1870, the engine itself is 68 years old, and much younger than the 142 year-old route it will be rolling over at a rocket's pace very soon.◊