World’s Largest Most Powerful Steam Locomotive Rolls Across Nebraska

Hundreds of railroad fans lined the Union Pacific tracks to watch Challenger No. 3985 roll across Nebraska. The historic train is on a 2,200 mile tour from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Gorham, Illinois to celebrate railroad heritage.

To kick off the tour, Challenger pulled the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus train between Speer, Wyoming and Denver.  No 3985 made history by pulling a 65-car train that was more than 6,000 tons and nearly 6,100 feet long. The most for a steam locomotive in the 21st century. No sh-t!

After it unloaded animals, performers, and circus gear in Denver, Challenger headed back to Cheyenne, and then across Nebraska, into Kansas, and Missouri, where it helped Sedalia, MO celebrate the community’s sesquicentennial on October 10.

The next stops in Nebraska are on 13 October on its return trip: Gibbon, NE @ 10:45AM and North Platte, NE @ 2:30PM – home of the famous North Platte Canteen. Check out the trains progress (LIVE via a global positioning satellite transmitter installed one one of the cars) at

Challenger is 122 feet long and weights more than 1 million pounds. It also has a hinged frame to help in negotiate curves. It was built in 1943 for fast freight service – it has a top speed of 70 MPH – and was retired in 1959.

Trains – the best way to travel.

Drink one for me,








~ by Frank Wood on 10 October 2010.

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