The Union Pacific Railroad (UP) is one of the oldest companies in the United States. Created for the purpose of building half of the first transcontinental railroad, it has survived into the modern era and grown to one of the largest, and last remaining, Class I railroads.

The corporate landscape for railroads has gone through enormous change since the enactment of the Staggers Act in 1980. This act deregulated the railroad industry, creating a much more competitive atmosphere, and spawned an era of mergers. UP was one of the first railroads into the game, merging with the Western Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads in 1982. Thirteen years later, UP acquired the Chicago & Northwestern, as the Burlington Northern – Santa Fe merger was taking place, and the following year consummated its merger with the Southern Pacific Railroad. UP now owned a network of rail lines that spiderwebbed across the western United States.

As part of the SP merger, UP acquired what had been the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW), whose lines connected Denver with Salt Lake City, among other things. This acquisition, along with SP’s Donner Pass route, gave UP its highest mountain crossings. UP had always had its share of steep grades to overcome, but this took it to a whole new level. The D&RGW (and later the SP) also had a near-monopoly on the Colorado coal market, so UP assumed the operational headache of massive coal trains on tortuous grades.

This website focuses on UP’s operations in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico (with a few forays beyond), since the SP merger of 1996. This region is dominated by the aforementioned coal traffic, but also includes its share of local and manifest freight traffic, and even the occasional intermodal train. We’ll find a mix of UP and predecessor-road power, lots of remote-control helpers, and miles and miles of coal hoppers!  (Though, not so much since about 2016…)

I will be adding continually to the photos here, as situations allow.

So, here is my humble offering of UP photos. Enjoy!

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