Union Pacific Bridges and Buildings

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This page was last updated on April 18, 2017.

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Buildings Paint Schemes


Buildings during the period between the 1880s and the 1910s were painted rustic red with medium green dark green trim. The green trim color was called Rockwood Dark Olive. Some railroad records show depots painted in this color scheme as "rustic depots."


In 1909 or 1910, Union Pacific adopted a new color scheme for buildings that included brownish-yellow (C.S. 201, Colonial Yellow), brown trim (C.S. 202, Light brown), and black window sashes. Bridges were to be painted using the same light brown color. This color change might be related to Robert Lovett becoming Union Pacific president in October 1909, after E. H. Harriman's death in August 1909.


Soon after the end of World War II, Union Pacific adopted a two-tone gray scheme, with white trim. This was at about the same time (April 1946) that two-tone gray was adopted for non-Streamliner passenger cars and locomotives. George Ashby became UP president in February 1946, and the change in colors might have been related to the change to a new president.

"Several photos by Donald Duke appear in Jim Ehernberger and Francis Gschwind's "SHERMAN HILL" that at least define the time window of when the Sherman depot was repainted. On page 102 is a shot of Extra 4003 West with F3A 1438 as a head-end helper passing the depot in November 1949, still in it's two-tone buff/yellow scheme. Page 63 shows Eastbound Extra 3993 passing a White with dark trim depot on July 4, 1953. As always there will be those who quibble about the fact that these photos are black and white half-tones. That does not alter the fact that the depot is painted differently in the two shots, and at least narrow the window during which the paint scheme changed." (James Sandrin, message posted to the UP Modelers Yahoo group, April 17, 2017)

1956-late 1960s

In 1956, Union Pacific adopted a color scheme for its buildings that was green on the lower exterior walls and window trim, and white on the upper parts of the exterior walls.

After late 1960s

UP began painting the few remaining wooden depots all-white, with black window trim, beginning in the late 1960s. This was at about the same time John Kenefick became vice president-operations in April 1968. It was as early as December 1968 that UP began using what is popularly known as "Kenefick Green" on its Roadway (maintenance of way) equipment.

Station Sign Lettering

Q -- What font Union Pacific used for its station signs?

A -- There was not a "font" for the station signs. Each letter was drawn geometrically to fill a box 10 inches square, with a stroke of 2 inches and a distance between letters of 2 inches. The length of each station sign varied according to the length of the station name.

The "Elevation" and numerals were changed in 1942, from vermilion to plain black.

(View the applicable Union Pacific Common Standard specification sheet.)


Mark Amfahr wrote to the UP Modelers Yahoo discussion group on January 2, 2004:

It appears that UP was very flexible on their standards for paint application on bridge structures as there doesn't seem to be a clear pattern of paint colors over the years. For example, I find evidence of silver/aluminum being applied as early as 1958 and well into the 1970s. I also came across photos with relatively new green paint in 1972 (applied around 1970?) and later, overlapping the "silver/aluminum" time period. There are many black structures seen in pre-1960s photos but it appears that black wasn't typically applied after the mid-1950s, when silver/aluminum started to be applied. One exception to that appears to be the bridge at Curvo, Utah, which appears to have a relatively fresh coat of black paint in the mid-1970s. The only thing I can imagine there is that local people went with black rather than the silver (or green) "system standard" color because the bridge would have soon been marred with black regardless of the original color due to the exhaust, etc (overhead bridge on a steep uphill climb...).

With many exceptions, their "standard" colors appeared to be:

- black thru roughly the mid/late-1950s
- silver/aluminum mid/late-1950's thru the early 1970s.
- green after the early 1970s.

It also appears that the paint applied to signal equipment followed this same general pattern.

Beginning in the 1970s, for its bridges, Union Pacific used a similar color called "Green Finish Coat Bridge Paint" with the color control card dated September 1970. Comparing the Roadway green freight car paint with the bridge paint is difficult because they have different sheens, similar to flat vs. glossy.