Union Pacific Roadway Department Locomotives

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This page was last updated on June 26, 2013.

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Tie Plant Units

Union Pacific has operated timber treatment plants Laramie, Wyoming, The Dalles, Oregon, and Pocatello, Idaho. At various times, timber treatment plants on UP, at The Dalles, Oregon, and at Laramie, Wyoming, have been operated by UP and by private contractors. One operator at The Dalles was Forest Products Treating Company in January 1934. The last operator of both plants was J. H. Baxter Pole Company. Sometime in the 1980s, the plant at The Dalles was sold to Kerr McGee. The Laramie plant was closed at the same time. The Pocatello plant was closed in 1950, but was always operated with small steam locomotives.

All tie plant locomotives were equipped with large pushing plates, instead of couplers. The cuts of small four-wheel "bogies" loaded with ties and other timbers were pushed into the creosote torts, and pulled out with chains.

Depending on the era and the paint scheme applied, the road numbers on these locomotives varied from no road number, to road numbers without UP initials, to road numbers with both UP- and MW- prefixes. All road numbers shown are from UP records. UP records also show that assignments changed regularly between the two plants, depending on the amount of raw timber each plant was handling. If additional power was needed at one of the plants, a locomotive from the other was simply loaded on a company flat car and shipped to the new location. No records of these movements were kept, and any assignment data depends on actual sightings.

The first non-steam power came to the tie plants in 1923, when UP purchased UP-1 and UP-2, two 12-ton Vulcan gas-mechanical engines that were Union Pacific's first true internal combustion locomotives. Next came UP-3, a 12-ton Whitcomb purchased second hand in 1931. Also in 1931 came a new 12-ton diesel-mechanical Davenport, number UP-4.

UP-2 was retired in 1936 and replaced at The Dalles by a second UP-3, a 20-ton Whitcomb gas-mechanical unit. The first UP-3 was at Laramie and being leased to Forest Products at the time, but a potential number conflict still existed and the new UP-3 was renumbered to UP-5.

In 1938 the 12-ton Davenport, number UP-4 at Laramie, was retired and replaced by MW-4, a 24-ton Whitcomb diesel-mechanical built in October 1937. The MW-4 remained at Laramie throughout its entire service life, being sold when that plant was closed in the early 1980s.

The timber treating plants were both modernized in 1950, including additional locomotives. UP-1 at The Dalles, and UP-3 at Laramie were retired. They were replaced by 25-ton Whitcomb diesel-mechanicals MW-6 and MW-7, both assigned to Laramie. MW-3 was retired in 1968, after being replaced by new GE diesel electric, 25-ton MW-8 at The Dalles.

Sometime during the late 1960s, the gasoline powered MW-4, along with the gasoline powered MW-3, also at Laramie, were both rebuilt with 147-horsepower LeRoi diesel engines that added four tons to each locomotive's weight.

Due to environmental concerns, and a change in corporate focus away from Union Pacific furnishing its own track and roadway materials, the two tie plants were closed. The plant at The Dalles was operated for UP by J. H. Baxter Pole Co., from 1959 to 1987, then sold to Kerr-McGee, also in 1987. Environmental cleanup of the site at The Dalles began in 1989. At the Laramie plant, seepage of hazardous materials was discovered in 1981. The plant was sold to J. H. Baxter Pole Company, and closed in 1983 when seepage of hazardous waste became a concern for the adjacent Laramie River. Cleanup of the Laramie site began in 1985.

North Platte Shop Switcher

Union Pacific also owned a small 30-ton, standard gauge Whitcomb diesel mechanical, which never received a road number. This unit was built new for Hughes Tools Company, number 1910, at Houston, Texas, and sold to Pacific Car and Foundry, number 1, in Renton, Washington. When PC&F closed its plant, the little unit was sold to Boeing Aircraft Company, number B-30, at Seattle, Washington. It was purchased by UP in November 1971 for use as a shop switcher at the then-new North Platte, Nebraska shops. The small unit was found to be grossly under powered to move large road units around and was soon set aside. It remained at North Platte until 1974 when it was transferred to the Roadway Department equipment shops at Pocatello, Idaho to replace retired GE 44-ton 903999. The unit was removed from service in 1976 and sold.