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― Transportation ShowcaseUnion Pacific 4-6-6-4 steam engine Challenger, 1943, at North Platte, Nebraska

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Charles Haacker
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Union Pacific 4-6-6-4 steam engine Challenger, 1943, at North Platte, Nebraska

Post by Charles Haacker » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:10 pm

The magnificent Union Pacific 4-6-6-4 steam engine Challenger, number 3977, At Cody Park, North Platte, Nebraska, a huge "simple articulated" (as opposed to a true Mallet), built in 1943 by American Locomotive (ALCO). She is one of only two survivors of 105 3900-class engines built in the 1930’s and 1940’s for fast passenger and freight service. This one is on static display, her fires cold forever. The other is number 3985, out of service for major maintenance as of 2016 but expected to return to excursion service around 2020. These enormous engines, really two locomotives beneath a common boiler, were articulated (hinged) so they could make the existing curves. They were built to eliminate "double-heading" on long grades, which required a second engine to be added or removed costing time and money. The very successful Challengers were the template for the largest steam engines ever built, the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 "Big Boys," but more efficient, easier to maintain, and far cheaper diesel-electrics spelled the doom of steam in the 1950's.

Daphne and I visited her in 2010 on our first long road trip with Rosie the Tiny Tent Trailer. We came back in 2014 in May but discovered that Cody Park doesn't open that early so we couldn't get in. Daphne is gone now but the family and I went to North Platte recently and I came away with a few new pictures. The weather was threatening but in a way the softer light made for better detail in the deep shadows of the running gear.
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Here you can gauge the massivity of the trailing truck that supports her enormous firebox. You can also clearly see her two sets of drivers.
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Shooting straight into her shows the boiler offset on a curve. This is what is meant by articulated. The pilot and leading set of drivers are separate from the trailing set, basically hinged beneath the boiler so the engine can take normal curves. The Challengers were also very fast thanks to their design. They were the fastest articulateds on any railroad.
Challenger.jpg
That ladder you see at center right is an open invitation to climb up and investigate the "backhead" of the boiler, the engineer's and fireman's seats, and pretend you are hurtling down the mainline at 60 mph with a mile-long freight behind.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:13 pm

... an open invitation to climb up and investigate the "backhead" of the boiler, the engineer's and fireman's seats, and pretend you are hurtling down the mainline at 60 mph with a mile-long freight behind.
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That "Keep Off Train" sign back there is a little odd since the park provides the ladder. I think what it really means is, "Don't be stupid and climb around the outside and fall and break your head and sue us!"
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Post by minniev » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:35 pm

Nice set of interesting trains nicely captured and presented with good compositions and clean views, but the winner for me is the one with the engineer, at the end. How adorable!

With your ever growing skill at PS, I have a feeling we may one day get to see some more fanciful interpretations of these elegant trains. There is no subject that lends itself to fanciful editing than a good train. I've never done a fanciful interpretation of one either, but I admire the ones I've seen done well.
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Post by Psjunkie » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:51 pm

All nice shots Chuck....I'm going with minniev on the last one...the sign is an added bonus I think and doesn't distract....

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Post by Charles Haacker » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:19 pm

minniev wrote:Nice set of interesting trains nicely captured and presented with good compositions and clean views, but the winner for me is the one with the engineer, at the end. How adorable!

With your ever growing skill at PS, I have a feeling we may one day get to see some more fanciful interpretations of these elegant trains. There is no subject that lends itself to fanciful editing than a good train. I've never done a fanciful interpretation of one either, but I admire the ones I've seen done well.
Well willya lookit that! One of only two survivors of some of the biggest, meanest, longest steamers ever built and who gets all the attention? ;)

Meanwhile, tho, what is meant by "fanciful editing?" I'm willing to try, but you know that I am not no artiste and I "see" in very straightforward documentary terms.
Psjunkie wrote:All nice shots Chuck....I'm going with minniev on the last one...the sign is an added bonus I think and doesn't distract....
Thanks, Frank. I actually considered removing the sign or at least blanking it out because it doesn't make sense when folks are even encouraged to get up in the cab. :?
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Post by LindaShorey » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:07 pm

Love how you presented these so sleek and shiny...and the too-cute-for-words granddaughter!
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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:25 am

LindaShorey wrote:Love how you presented these so sleek and shiny...and the too-cute-for-words granddaughter!

Thanks, Linda! You know how "they say" they grow up too fast. They do. :)
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Post by St3v3M » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:36 am

These are really well done, especially the 'tone' you seem to have found here. Wonderful, wonderful indeed! S-
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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:52 pm

St3v3M wrote:These are really well done, especially the 'tone' you seem to have found here. Wonderful, wonderful indeed! S-

Thank you, Steve. Daphne and I were both captivated by rail, not enough to chase legacy engines around the country, but enough to never want to bypass a museum or static display. Daphne loved to ride trains. Before we bought Rose The Tiny Tent Trailer we went West several times on the Amtrak, sitting up in chair car! It was nuts, and it was fun! :yay: I have an entire Flickr album of locomotives: https://www.flickr.com/gp/43619751@N06/yribL4
Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
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Post by St3v3M » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:01 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:Thank you, Steve. Daphne and I were both captivated by rail, not enough to chase legacy engines around the country, but enough to never want to bypass a museum or static display. Daphne loved to ride trains. Before we bought Rose The Tiny Tent Trailer we went West several times on the Amtrak, sitting up in chair car! It was nuts, and it was fun! :yay: I have an entire Flickr album of locomotives: https://www.flickr.com/gp/43619751@N06/yribL4

I don't have the addiction, but when I am near them there's a deep admiration for their power and grace. Such massive machines that make travel beautiful!

It's the tone you pulled from these shots I like the most here. Please understand I love the shots too, but you made them special! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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