UP 844 Visits Spring/Houston for the First Time

On Sunday, April 11, 2010, Union Pacific #844 visited Spring, TX for the first time in history as she made her way to the "valley" (south Texas). I spent Saturday in Long Leaf helping with some much needed track work. Sunday morning (April 11) I left Long Leaf at 0730 and made a mad dash home to Spring to catch the 844 arriving. Three miles from Lloyd Yard my scanner picked up the dispatcher clearing 844 through the yard. "DARN! SHE'S EARLY!"  I FLOORED the gas pedal (75 in a 40 MPH zone) and arrived just ahead of the train. As I crossed over the east leg of the wye I could see the headlight and knew the train was just passing the location where I'd planned to film her. "DARN! DARN!"  A quick glance at Old Town Spring told me I wanted to avoid that area at all costs. With the train arriving and the annual crawfish boil occurring at the same time it was a real mess there.  "DARN DARN! DARN!"  So, I floored it again and went the only place that was free of people: the grade crossing just west of the wye on Elm Street. As I jumped out of the truck I was praying this wouldn't be a "Nightmare on Elm Street" with me helplessly watching the train roll by while scrambling to get my cameras ready. Fortunately I made it. I sat down the video camera tripod, aimed it, and hit record as the gates came down and just as the first whistle sounded. It really couldn't have been any closer! Fifteen more seconds and I would have missed it!


My wife left our house (just a mile away) and waded into the crowds in Old Town Spring for some close-up pictures while I leap-frogged the train and headed to the south end of Lloyd Yard. With plenty of time to kill I took my time setting up the perfect shot. Then I waited...


And waited...


Sure was quiet... so I checked the scanner to make sure it was on. Yup... working fine...


And I waited some more...


Then, while looking around and day dreaming, I saw an even more perfect spot than where I was. In a split-second decision (that was very stupid) I grabbed the cameras and ran to the new spot. Halfway into my sprint I heard 844's whistle. "CRAP!" I blew all but a fragment of the video and nearly blew all of the pictures. My "perfect spot" was a near disaster. Two lessons were learned though: 1) Never second-guess yourself when you aren't absolutely certain how much time you have, and 2) scout your spot better the first time so you won't have to second-guess yourself!


My wife leap-frogged me as I was scrambling to set up that shot and chased the train south for another mile. But, the pictures aren't very pretty. It's always better to have 2 people when getting pacing shots. However, she's still the greatest wife in the world for trying. Seriously, how many wives would be willing to chase a train for you? I landed quite a catch!


At this point I was pretty darn tired from all the track work the previous day and decided to head home and get some sleep. Besides, I'm sure the "railfan parade" heading into Houston was crazy. No thanks. I deal with traffic too much as it is.


The next evening after work, my wife and I met a friend of hers at the Amtrak Depot to see 844 up close.


Then life went on as normal. I was unable to chase the train out of town Tuesday morning because I was needed at work.


The following Saturday 844 returned from the "valley" and laid over somewhere in Houston. I'm assuming she was in Englewood Yard, but don't know for sure. I was tied up with my other hobby and was unable to chase her coming in.


However, on Monday, April 19, I joined my buddy Everett to chase the train up through East Texas to Hearne. En route we picked up Everett's friend John. The 3 of us had a great time as the photos below can attest to. Chasing with friends is a LOT more fun than going solo.


As I was racing north with Everett and John to get ahead of the train and the "railfan parade", my wife (Michele) made her way to Old Town Spring, about a mile from our house. She was gracious enough to stop on her way to work and get some pictures of 844 arriving and departing... in the rain. She's truly a great gal! I have no idea how she got stuck with me...


Video Compilation of UP844 in Texas


Arriving in Spring

Arriving in Spring

Heading around south

leg of wye

UP844 in Old Town Spring

Photos (3) by: Michele Rose "World's Greatest Wife"

Heading south from UP's (former MOP) Lloyd Yard in Spring


On Display at the Houston Amtrak Station

Not the most ideal location for photos.

The I45 overpass kills the shot.

Site of former SP

Car Repair Facility


My wife got a

shot of me "working"



Arriving at Spring on the Return Trip

UP844 Arriving in Old Town Spring

Photos (3) by: Michele Rose "World's Greatest Wife"

UP844 in Old Town Spring

Photos (3) by: Michele Rose "World's Greatest Wife"


Chasing to Hearne, TX

This was near the junction of Highway 105 & FM1748

*The image on the left is a product of me

being bored and having PhotoShop nearby

Same spot as the left 2 shots,

 but further down at the grade crossing on FM1748

Half mile east of Millican, TX



Here comes the "parade"



My chase crew for the day:

Everett and John

Highway 6, north of Bryan, TX


North of Bryan/

College Station, TX



Crossing the UP Diamond just north of Hearne, TX

Hearne Depot

Former H&TC and I&GN Depot

Backing the train through the northwest leg of the junction to re-cross the same diamond they just passed over

Continuing back through the junction


Completing the back-up maneuver


Heading east towards Palestine, TX





Re-crossing the diamond