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UP 3985 near California, Missouri, October 2010. Photo by John Cornett.

Union Pacific 3985 at Malta Bend, Missouri, October 4, 2010.  Photo by Eddie Phillips.

Union Pacific 3985 at Malta Bend, Missouri, October 4, 2010. Photo by Eddie Phillips, California, Missouri.
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UP 3985 near California, Missouri, October 2010. Photo by John Cornett.

Union Pacific 3985
Union Pacific 3985, or UP 3985, is a four-cylinder simple articulated 4-6-6-4 Challenger-type steam locomotive owned by Union Pacific Railroad. It was built in 1943 by the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York. The locomotive is one of only two of the original 105 Union Pacific Challengers in existence, along with UP 3977, which is on static display in North Platte, Nebraska. Until it was placed in storage in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2010, UP 3985 was the largest and heaviest operational preserved steam locomotive in the world.

In February 2015, Union Pacific officials said that UP 3985 might be returned to excursion service after the restoration of Union Pacific 4014, and would in that case become the world's second-largest operating steam locomotive after UP 4014.

Design
Designed by UP chief mechanical engineer Otto Jabelmann in 1941, UP 3985 was part of the second order of this second version of the Challenger. The design drew on recent experience with the enormous 4-8-8-4 Big Boy locomotives, and resulted in a locomotive in working order weighing 317 tons (288 t; 283 long tons) accompanied by a tender weighing 174 tons (158 t; 155 long tons) when 2/3 loaded. Calculated tractive effort is 97,350 lbf (433.0 kN). The Challenger class was intended to speed up freight operations on the 0.82% grades across Wyoming; the 1.14% Wasatch climb east from Ogden was to be conquered by the Big Boys without helpers. The Challengers and Big Boys arrived on the scene just as traffic was surging in preparation for American participation in World War II.

Service and Restoration
UP 3985 operated in its last "revenue" train service in 1957. The locomotive was retired about 1962 and after many years of storage in a roundhouse at Cheyenne, Wyoming, UP 3985 was placed on an outdoor display beside the Cheyenne depot in 1975. Beginning in 1979, a group of Union Pacific employee-volunteers started work on restoring the locomotive, and it was returned to operational condition in 1981. Originally a coal-burner, to prevent lineside grass fires it was successfully converted to oil firing in 1990. In 1991, No. 3985 was chosen to pull the Clinchfield Santa Train (as Clinchfield 676). Stationed at Cheyenne with other equipment in the UP's heritage collection, it was currently used for excursion trains and occasionally mainline freight on ferry moves. It was in the maintenance shop at Cheyenne in 2007 and underwent necessary repairs for service in 2008. In September 2010, No. 3985 was selected to pull the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train from Cheyenne to Denver, Colorado, where the circus held a special performance to celebrate P.T. Barnum's birthday. It last ran in October 2010 and since then has been stored in Cheyenne. On February 26, 2015, Union Pacific senior manager of Heritage Operations Ed Dickens Jr. announced that UP 3985 will return to excursion service in the future once Union Pacific 4014 finishes its restoration, slated for 2019.

Update December 2017:

According to UP Steam Shop employees, 3985 needs a complete firebox replacement and extensive boiler reconstruction. Restoration will largely depend on the economy once UP 4014 Big Boy is restored. The good new is that when parts were ordered for Big Boy 4014, parts were also ordered for Challenger 3985.

Union Pacific 3985
Type and origin
Power type: Steam
Builder: American Locomotive Company (ALCO)
Serial number: 70174
Build date: July 1943
Specifications
Configuration:
​ • Whyte 4-6-6-4
 • UIC (2′C) C2′ h4
Gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driver diameter: 69 in (1,753 mm)
Adhesive weight: 404,000 lb (183,000 kg; 183 t)
Total weight: 1,073,900 lb (487,100 kg; 487.1 t)
Boiler pressure: 280 lbf/in2 (1.93 MPa)
Cylinders: Four
Cylinder size: 21 in × 32 in (533 mm × 813 mm)
Performance figures
Power output 5,000 hp (3,700 kW)
Tractive effort 97,350 lbf (433.03 kN)
Factor of adhesion: 4.15
Career
Operator: Union Pacific Railroad
Class: 4664-4
Number in class: 11 of 25
Numbers: UP 3985, UP 3967, UP 3718, Clinchfield 676
Nickname: "Challenger"
Last run: 1957
Retired: 1962
Restored: 1981
Disposition: 1,472-day rebuild, based on Cheyenne, Wyoming, at roundhouse

See also:

UP 3977
4-6-6-4 Locomotives
Union Pacific Railroad
American Locomotive Company
Steam Locomotives
Locomotives

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Classic Streamliners - TRAIN​CYCLOPEDIA

A UP 3985 Slideshow from October 2010. That's Steve Lee at the throttle just prior to his retirement.

Photos by John Cornett, Carl Hagge, and Eddie Phillips.