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Union Pacific's Shops

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on February 4, 2014.

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(Research continues; 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.)

Keep 'em Running, Keep 'em Rolling

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.

Hinkle, Oregon

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, Volume 4, Number 161, 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.

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.

(Read more about UP's Salt Lake City shop)

DeSoto, Missouri

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.