Union Pacific's Shops
Index For This Page
This page was last updated on January 24, 2023.
(The following is a compilation of brief notes dating from April 25, 1995, and is meant to serve as the basis for an as-yet incomplete overview of UP's locomotive and car repair shops. Updates are being made on an irregular basis.)
Union Pacific's Downing B. Jenks Shop at North Little Rock performs all of the heavy locomotive maintenance on the Union Pacific Railroad. It is also the largest shop on the railroad, employing over 1,000 people. UP's shop at North Platte, Nebraska, is the second largest shop on the UP, employing about 600 persons. Until it was closed in 1998, Salt Lake City was the third largest, with about 350 people performing inspections and light repairs as needed. The former Missouri Pacific shop at Fort Worth, Texas, employs about 250 people, and also performs the necessary inspections and light repairs on locomotives assigned to that region.
In addition to performing periodic inspections and light repairs, Salt Lake City does generator change-outs, rebuilds diesel engine gear trains, and completes some minor accident damage repairs.
Salt Lake City's service facility services about 30 units per day, with a monthly average of just over 1,000 units being run through the facility.
Other shops on the railroad include East Los Angeles and Stockton, California, Albina (Portland), Oregon,
Alexandria, Louisiana, a former MP shop on the New Orleans Division serviced an average of forty-two units per day during early 1986. The motive power was serviced on a then-new fueling facility capable of servicing a four-unit consist. Avondale also services locomotives on the New Orleans Division.
A new locomotive shop was announced for Hinkle, Oregon, on (?), reflecting the Hinkle Yard's new importance in the operations of the new, post-C&NW, post-SP Union Pacific. Rather than expand the railroad's facilities in either Seattle or Portland, Hinkle was seen as a much better location, with plenty of room for future expansion. Included in the expansion of the yard's facilities was the need for a new locomotive shop. Construction began in early February 1997, and the first locomotive was serviced on July 23, 1998. Manpower for the new shop came from the local labor pool, along with 40 employees transferred in May from the Salt Lake City shop, which was closed on August 1, 1998, in anticipation of the availability of the new Hinkle shop. (Update Line, Union Pacific Communications Department, February 10, 1997; UP Online, August 4, 1998)
The new Hinkle shop was officially opened on November 23, 1998, in a ceremony by the new President and Chief Operating Officer, Ike Evans. The new facility cost $32 million to complete, and has 1,000,000 square feet of shop space. Twelve locomotives at a time can be serviced on four tracks. ten locomotives can be serviced and fueled at one time at the new service facility, with as many as 90 locomotives being serviced per day. (Union Pacific news release, dated November 23, 1998)
North Little Rock, Arkansas
North Little Rock Ramp (NRR) is the old MP facility at Pike Avenue. This shop performs all of the running repairs and inspections that are done at the North Little Rock terminal. About 100 units passed through the facility on any single day during the early 1990s. Pike Avenue was opened in 1968. The Downing B. Jenks Shops was opened in July 1984.
North Platte, Nebraska
The North Platte Diesel Shop opened in April 1971. Shop has 11 tracks.
The North Platte One-Spot car repair facility opened in 1973.
"Shop Renovation Plans Underway -- Preliminary planning is nearly complete on the $4-million renovation of the Omaha shops. The plans, announced earlier, call for a complete remodeling and rearrangement of the 150,000 squarefoot main machine and boiler shop building and the installation of more than $1.6 million worth of new equipment. After completion of the project, Omaha shops main function will be the repair of diesel components." (UP INFO, December 1971)
Don Coburn was named as shop superintendent. The following comes from the June 1972 issue of UP INFO for employees.
D. L. Coburn has been named superintendent of shops for Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, effective June 1.
Coburn will supervise the heavy maintenance work on UP's fleet of diesel locomotives and the freight car construction and reconditioning programs at the Omaha shops.
Coburn joined UP in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1942 as a machinist helper. He completed the company's machinist apprentice training program in 1949 and consequently served as a machinist in Lima and Salt Lake City and as a foreman at the latter point. He was appointed general foreman of locomotives in Salt Lake City in 1967 and came to Omaha shops as general locomotive foreman in 1968.
Portland (Albina), Oregon
"Albina Progress -- Mechanical Department office and locker rooms located in the old store building at Albina are nearing completion. Demolition of a portion of the old machine shop will start in January. Demolition will not begin until a new end wall has been constructed on the portion that will be retained." (UP INFO, December 1972)
Salt Lake City, Utah
The new Salt Lake City "Diesel Locomotive Maintenance and Repair Shop" was to be formally opened on Tuesday August 2, 1955, at a ceremony jointly sponsored by the Union Pacific Railroad, the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, and the Salt Lake City Rotary Club. The construction of the new shop began in December 1951 with the demolition of the old Salt Lake City roundhouse. The new shop cost $6 million to build and initially provided employment for about 400 men, adding $1.8 million payroll to the local economy and bringing UP's employment in Utah to over 5,000 people. At its peak in the mid 1970s, the shop employed over 500 men and women. At the time it was built, the new shop was the most modern in the nation and would handle all types and classes of maintenance and repair from light servicing to complete heavy overhaul of both diesel motive power units and gas turbine electric locomotives. Unusual equipment in the shop include an overhead traveling crane of 270-ton capacity, the largest locomotive handling crane in the west (this may still be true today, in 1994). The crane was capable of lifting the largest diesel on the Union Pacific and even the heavier Gas Turbine Electric locomotives. The 270-ton crane is joined by a 35-ton model, and in the 1973 expansion, by a 10-ton model in the main east-west bay and another 10-ton the new south wing of the running repair tracks. Salt Lake shops has a 90-ton drop table for removing complete truck assemblies from under any diesel unit. In 1973 a single-axle drop table was added to the new running repair tracks which could remove single traction motor assemblies. The rails of tracks 1 through 3 and tracks 6 through 9 are elevated to allow access to locomotive running gear, such as the trucks, brakes, and journal boxes. These same tracks are equipped with elevated platforms at the locomotive walkway level and depressed pits below the shop floor to allow better access to the underside of each locomotive. The shop also was built with a wheel-truing machine, which remains today as a major center of activity in the shop complex. The wheel-truing machine permits the re-profiling of the wheel tread, "truing", of the wheels of the locomotives without removal of the wheel sets from the units.
The shop originally displayed the largest reflective sign ever made, up to that time. The sign was over 96 feet long and featured a 24 foot Union Pacific shield, with a freight train on one side and a Domeliner passenger train on the opposite side. The shield remains today, but the two trains were removed in the late 1960s.
The shop is unusual in that it was designed by the railroad's own engineering staff and built by the company's own Bridges and Buildings work force. Preliminary work consisted of driving more than 3,200 piles 35 to 50 feet in length to support the building and its heavy equipment. Bridges and Buildings Department employees remember driving as many as four piles end-to-end before striking solid footing. More than 2,000 tons of structural steel was used in the original construction and 1,600 cubic yards of concrete were poured. The main building is 424 feet, east to west, and 162 feet north to south. Originally the south wing was 324 feet long and 80 feet wide, but in 1973 an addition was added on the west to cover the south ends of tracks 1 through 3. The north wing, which covers the store department and the north ends of tracks 1, 2, and 3, is 264 feet long and 102 feet wide. The 1973 upgrading added 140-foot long canopies to both the south end and the north end of track 1, for the purposes of weather protection of workers while performing inbound (north end) and outbound (south end) inspections on the locomotives. There are five different roof elevations ranging from 32 feet, over the running repair tracks, to 77 feet over the main, high bay that houses the 270-ton crane. When it was completed in 1955, it was the largest diesel shop under cover in the country, as well as the largest steel insulated building of any kind. UP's own North Platte shop became UP's largest shop when it was completed in 1971, and the Downing B. Jenks shop in North Little Rock, completed in 1984, is also in the same league.
In March 1973 work began on a $3 million expansion, which included a 400-foot, two-track service facility located just west of the diesel shop to replace the older, original four-track service facility which had been constructed just south of the shop. The expansion also included the previously mentioned expansion the running repair wing and inspection canopies on the north and south sides of the shop. Also built was a 200-foot load test platform along the west side of the main shop building. This load test platform allowed the location of the four load test boxes to a single location, replacing two already there and moving two others that had been located along the east side of the shop. One of the factors for this move were protests from residential neighbors to the east complaining of the sound of diesel locomotives operating at full throttle load at all hours of the day and night. Today, all locomotives are equipped with a self-load feature and units are tested at any convenient location without the exterior shop complex. The 1973 built load test platform was removed during 1993.
During 1972, Union Pacific completed a new "One-Spot" freight car facility at Salt Lake City, at a cost of more than a half-million dollars. The facility is located northwest of the diesel shop and was completed in December 1972. The One-spot includes a 114 feet by 200 feet main repair canopy, with a 30 feet by 170 feet shop area that includes a carpenter shop, a blacksmith shop, offices and a locker room for workers. The main canopy is equipped with jib cranes and an in-floor car jacking system. The new shop is just one of several on the UP system and greatly increased the efficiency of UP's car repair forces. Traditionally, repairs to freight cars had been made by spotting the cars in repair areas and having repairmen move from car to car, taking the required tools and materials to each car needing repair. In the one-spot operation, the cars are moved through completely equipped repair stations in an assembly-line fashion, in effect bringing the cars to the repairman and his tools and materials.
In January 1998, UP announced that Salt Lake shops would be closed, with the reasoning that Salt Lake City was no longer the best location for a locomotive shop on the post-C&NW, post-SP Union Pacific. Over the next eight months, operations were slowed in preparation for the August 1st closure. Many employees were offered jobs in other locations, and the most senior were offered jobs in the former D&RGW/SP shop at Roper Yard. On August 1, 1998, the Salt Lake shop was formally closed. On October 2, 1998, an auction was held to completely liquidate the tools and machines inside the shop building. Included in the sale were all of the remaining mechanics' tool boxes and cabinets, along with all welders, fork lifts, and other portable equipment.
In 1993 there were 286 men and women working at DeSoto. The shops' big project in 1993 began in April and involved raising the roof of 157 60-foot boxcars from 15 feet 4 inches to 17 feet 1 inch. Seventy-two of the cars came from CSX. The conversion required 404 man-hours for each car and took up two production tracks within the DeSoto shop complex. The rebuilt cars are needed for auto parts shipment service for General Motors.
"Council Bluffs Repair Facility -- The half million dollar, one spot car repair facility at Council Bluffs is scheduled for completion by January 1, 1972." (UP INFO, December 1971)
The Council Bluffs One-Spot facility had a formal opening on January 18, 1972. (UP INFO, January 1972)
A new era in light freight car repair began for Union Pacific with the opening of the new Council Bluffs "one-spot" car repair facility, first of several such to be constructed on the system.
Although the one-spot concept is new to Union Pacific, its use in the railroad industry came about with the construction of automatic classification yards during the late 1950's.
Traditionally, repairs to freight cars have been made by spotting strings of bad order cars in repair areas and having car repairmen move from place to place, taking the required tools and materials to each car needing repairs. In the one-spot system, the activity is reversed . The cars are moved through a well-tooled, well-stocked repair station-in effect bringing the cars to the repairman, his tools and supplies.
The facility currently uses two tracks. One of the tracks (the "fast" track) is used for light repairs requiring the use of jacks while the second is used for other kinds of light repairs. The main structure over the two tracks is 7 4 feet wide and 220 feet long. Adjacent to the main structure is a 20 by 60 foot building housing a combination mill, blacksmith shop and records room.
The fast track is equipped with a set of hydraulic jacks, including two 75-ton side jacks and one 150-ton center jack. Foundations have been prepared for a second set of jacks to be installed at a later date. Two jib cranes are located 35 feet each way from the center of the jacks. The cranes are equipped with reels which provide the following utilities: oxygen and acetylene, car oil, air, roller bearing grease, and welding leads. Also located on each jib is a one-ton electric hoist. A second set of jib cranes will be included at the same time the second set of jacks is installed.
A new system has been designed for storing material at the exact point of use. Special yellow-painted skids, each capable of holding a 30-day supplyofmaterial, are placed in an inclined position against an "A" frame rack. The yellow paint designates these skids as being reserved for use at the Council Bluffs one-spot only. The skids have been given special initials for the convenience of material handlers. Identical skids of materials are held in reserve at the Omaha store and when the supply of a certain material at the one-spot location is exhausted, it is only necessary to request a full skid by its identifying initial. The store department then exchanges the full skid for the empty
Manned around the clock , 7 days a week, the new one-spot repair facility should put 10 cars per shift across the "fast" track . This new Council Bluffs plant is an important addition to UP's mechanical department.
"Salt Lake City One-Spot -- Construction will begin in Salt Lake City July 1, on the new $640,000 one-spot car repair facility. Similar to the Council Bluffs one-spot completed last year, the new repair station will have two tracks equipped with hydraulic jacks. The project should be completed by the end of the year." (UP INFO, July 1972)
"Pocatello Car Shop -- Plans have been announced for the modernization and expansion of the Pocatello freight car repair shop. In addition to extending the present building, two new buildings will be added and will include a car wash house and a combination office, lunch room, locker facility. The first contract has been let, the successful bidder being Allied Steel Erectors of Pocatello." (UP INFO, September 1972)
"Salt Lake City One-Spot -- Work is underway on the new Salt Lake City one-spot car repair facility. Piling for structural support is now being driven." (UP INFO, September 1972)
The following items come from the December 1972 issue of UP INFO, for employees.
More One-Spots Approved -- Construction will begin soon on three more one-spot car repair facilities. The new one-spots will be located at Albina, Kansas City and North Platte. The Kansas City and North Platte installations will feature a car-moving system hitherto not included in the other one-spots. The car mover uses a cable to move cars through the repair area, automatically stopping them at the appropriate repair spot. After repairs are complete, the cars will be moved to a holding area.
Pocatello Car Shop -- Springtime will also see the beginning of operations at the new Pocatello heavy car repair shop. Construction is well underway on the facility changes and additions.
Salt Lake City One-Spot Progress -- Construction continues on the new Salt Lake City one-spot car repair facility. It is expected that the one-spot will be placed in service in January '73.
"Pocatello One-Spot -- Approval has been granted for construction of a new one-spot car repair facility at Pocatello. The new repair plant will be similar to the ones already in operation at Council Bluffs and Salt Lake City, and to the ones slated for Kansas City, North Platte and Albina. Cost of the project is $1.3 million." (UP INFO, February 1973)
"Green River One-Spot -- Another of the successful one-spot car repair facilities will be added to UP's growing list of modern repair plants. The one-spot will be similar to six others either in operation or under construction at various places on the system. Cost of the Green River one-spot will be nearly one-half million dollars." (UP INFO, March 1973)
The following comes from the March 1973 issue of UP INFO for employees.
Pocatello Car Shop Modernized -- Progress on the remodeling and modernization of the Pocatello steel car shop has been pressing on steadily. In spite of unusual amounts of snow and weeks of constant subzero temperatures the project has remained on schedule.
When completed, the modernized shop will have been expanded by the addition of a structure measuring 100' x 200'. A new trackage arrangement within the building itself, reducing the number of tracks from five to three, will allow considerably more room for machinery and equipment.
The shop will be equipped with four overhead cranes. Two will be of 15-ton capacity and two of 25-ton capacity. The two 25-ton cranes being installed were removed from the shop at East Los Angeles before that building's demolition. In order to use the cranes at the new Pocatello facility it was necessary for the mechanical department to shorten them so they would fit in the narrower building. This entire project was carried out by the Pocatello forces.
Other new equipment to be installed in the building includes automatic welders, a car straightener, shears and brakes. In case you're wondering about the car straightener, it's a device to which a car with a damaged frame is fastened and which allows that car to be literally bent back into shape. The shears and brakes are machines used for the cutting, bending and forming of metal shapes.
In addition to the large structure housing the repair tracks, a smaller 40 ft. by 90 ft. office building is being built. This building will house the general car foreman 's office as well as a new carmen's locker room.
While the car shop has been undergoing remodeling, the work normally carried on inside has been moved to a temporary outside location a short distance away. In spite of the extremely bad weather, the car shop employes have managed to keep up their production schedules in a job well done.
March 2, 1973
"Salt Lake City One-Spot Opens -- March 2, saw the opening of the new Salt Lake City one-spot car repair facility. The $640,000 installation is the second of seven planned one-spot plants to be placed in operation." (UP INFO, March 1973; Salt Lake Tribune, March 3, 1973)
The following comes from the April 1973 issue of UP INFO, for employees.
New Era Of Freight Car Repairs -- Maintenance of locomotives and cars has been undergoing dramatic changes on Union Pacific in recent years. The opening of another new one-spot gives us a good opportunity to make a comparison between the new and the old. Salt Lake City's one-spot will, as in Council Bluffs, replace the old riptrack operation.
The opening of the Council Bluffs one-spot marked the beginning of UP's new era of freight car repair. The new Salt Lake City facility is the second such plant to be opened on Union Pacific property. Others are either planned or under construction at several locations on the system.
Traditionally, repairs to freight cars were performed by spotting the bad order cars on repair tracks. The carmen would then take the necessary tools and materials to each car and then make the repairs. This system, at best, was inefficient.
In the "one-spot" operation , the cars are moved through well-tooled, well-stocked repair stations-in effect reversing the sequence of events by bringing the car to the repairman, his tools and materials. The new system is designed to achieve substantially increased efficiency and productivity and at the same time provide vastly improved work areas for the employes.
The Salt Lake City "one-spot" car repair facility consists of a 114 x 22-foot car repair service canopy with three tracks running the length of the structure. Two of the tracks are equipped with built-in jacking systems, jib cranes, air, lubricating oil , grease, gas for cutting torches and power for arc welding. All of these utilities are piped to each repair station.
A 30 x 170-foot shop building adjoins one side of the car repair service canopy, in which are offices, a carpenter shop, blacksmith shop, locker and washroom facilities.
"Albina One-Spot -- The month of June will see the opening of the latest in UP's series of new one-spot car repair facilities. Located in Albina yard at Portland, the one-spot is similar to those already in operation and previously reported in INFO." (UP INFO, June 1973)
June 8, 1973
The following comes from the July 1973 issue of UP INFO for employees.
Portland One-Spot Opens -- Union Pacific dedicated its third "one-spot" freight car repair facility June 8 at the large Albina freight terminal in Portland, Oregon.
Part of a one million dollar modernization program at Albina, the $355,000 freight car repair shop will not only move cars back into service faster but will also improve the car supply. The one-spot facility is located on the east bank of the Willamette River.
General manager George Baker said, "Other improvements at Albina are scheduled for locomotive repair, a piggyback yard, parts storage and employe facilities."
Built next to UP's freight car building complex, the 95 x 225-foot repair shop houses three rail tracks and a system of jib cranes and automatic floor jacks for raising the cars.
James "Ed" Pickett, assistant mechanical superintendent, was master of ceremonies at the 11 a.m. dedication. After a short speech by general manager George Baker and an introduction of car department officers, the symbolic key to "onespot" was presented by Dick Sutton, car department superintendent, to Jerry Sewell, general car foreman at Albina.
The ceremony was conducted from a new bulkhead flatcar, decorated for the occasion . Over 200 employes from the entire car building program observed the proceedings.
Following a short address by chief mechanical officer Frank Acord, the ribbon cutting ceremony was held, officially opening the Portland One-Spot. A freight car was shoved down one of the tracks into the building breaking a large banner reading "UP opens one-spot." Holding one end of the banner were carmen Rudy Misetich and Don ltterley. On the other end were Lon Topaz, assistant state of Oregon public utility commissioner and Frank Acord, chief mechanical officer.
Eight pretty hostesses from Union Pacific offices at Albina helped in the dedication. Refreshments were served following the dedication ceremony.
September 25, 1973
"Pocatello Car Shop Opened -- Amid ceremonies, the new Pocatello car shop was officially opened on September 25. Cost of the project was $1.49 million. More on the opening next month." (UP INFO, October 1973)
"New One Spots -- Three one-spot car repair facilities are scheduled for completion during the month of December. Representing a combined cost of $2,820,000, they are under construction at North Platte $1,000,000), Pocatello ($1,220,000), and Green River ($600,000). Another new one-spot, built at a cost of $1,000,000, opened in Kansas City on November 14." (UP INFO, December 1973)
August 11, 1974
The new one-spot at Green River was opened on August 11, 1974. An open house and Family Days ceremony was held. (UP INFO, July 1974)
The following comes from the March 1979 issue of UP INFO for employees.
A new idea in the railroad industry is being turned into reality at Pocatello, where Union Pacific is setting up a heavy bad-order car storage facility.
Up to 1,000 cars requiring extensive repairs will be stored on the ground minus their wheels and trucks. The removed parts will be installed on high-priority freight cars. Because the maintenance of the heavy bad- order cars can be deferred, they will be repaired as time permits.
Cars stored at the $1.2 million facility will be moved about with a specially designed straddle crane that is similar to the types used at Los Angeles to lift trailers and containers.
What are the advantages? More than $4 million worth of materials now in short supply throughout the railroad industry will be available for re-use to help alleviate the car shortage. Secondly, removing heavy bad-order cars from yard tracks frees the tracks for revenue business and reduces switching costs. In addition, the storage facility is being located next to the Pocatello car shop so the heavy bad-order cars are conveniently located for major repairs.
The following comes from the March 1980 issue of UP INFO for employees.
Success at Pocatello shops -- The new site for storing cars needing heavy repairs at Pocatello has proven so successful in such a short time that plans are underway to expand it and perhaps develop a similar site in Omaha.
The site provides space for about 950 heavy bad order cars that are temporarily stored on the ground after their wheels, trucks and certain other components are removed.
With this system, the Mechanical Department is able to obtain badly needed parts for cars needing minor repairs. In addition, hundreds of heavy bad order cars are removed from yards and sidings where they tend to cause congestion and hinder daily operations.
The new site has been so successful that it paid for itself in less than three months. Projections originally called for a pay out in about a year.
Mike Swindall, production control supervisor at Pocatello, said that between August, 1979, and the end of January, 1980, UP has secured parts valued at $4,182,119 after all costs have been subtracted.
Plans now call for an expansion of the site to hold about 350 to 400 more cars. During the first six months of operation of the storage site and the adjacent car dismantling area, UP has either dismantled, stored or returned to service a total of 2,141 cars, Swindall said.
In the dismantling area, called "The Flaming Torch" locally, workers are up to dismantling 8.6 cars daily and have passed the 1,000 mark since August, Swindall said. This group has also developed into sort of a "SWAT" team, going to derailments to assist whenever needed.
"The Omaha demolition shop opened in January 1981, to scrap freight cars. It was similar to a shop in Pocatello, Idaho. The demolition shop included four pits in which cars were laid on their sides and cut up by men using cutting torches. Capacity of the shop was reported as four cars per day." (Union Pacific INFO magazine, January 1981)
"The on-ground storage facility at Pocatello went into service in July 1979, and was to be expanded during 1981. It was an industry first of storing bad-order freight cars without trucks to save yard congestion, time and money. The on-ground storage facility used Drott rubber tired cranes to move the freight cars to their selected storage sites, and to move the freight cars to the repair sites." (Union Pacific INFO magazine, February 1981, page 2)
In 1987, among the 900+ cars stored on the ground at Pocatello, without their trucks, were 19 former Western Pacific cabooses. The on-ground storage was a unique program meant to save space while freight cars awaited their turn through Pocatello's heavy repair car shops. In April 1987, the on-ground storage program came to an end, and all cars awaiting heavy repairs at Pocatello were sold for scrap, most to General Metals of Tacoma, Washington.
(This change in early 1987 for such a large program, i.e. scrapping 900+ freight cars because they needed heavy repairs, took place at the same time that UP retired and sold over half of its remaining fleet of passenger cars. This was in October 1986 through March 1987, while Mike Walsh was president of Union Pacific.) (Read more about the years that Mike Walsh was president, Oct 1986-Aug 1991)