The 45 engines of the FEF Series were built for Union Pacific from 1937 to 1944, and were operated by the railroad until 1959. They pulled passenger trains until the diesels took over, after which the engines were relegated to freight work. The last steam locomotives built for Union Pacific, these engines represent the pinnacle of steam technology. They were built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) specifically to address the power limitations of the 4-8-2’s common throughout the U.P. steam passenger fleet.
The engines were divided into three classes, FEF-1, FEF-2, and FEF-3, each represented by an engineering card below. The only obvious difference between the classes from an outsider’s view is the 12-wheeled tender used by class FEF-1, while the later class tenders had 14 wheels. Strikes following WWII affected coal supplies, prompting these engines to be converted from coal to fuel oil in 1945-46.
Four of these engines survive today. #814 (FEF-1) and #833 (FEF-2) are preserved as static displays in Iowa and Utah respectively. #844 (FEF-3) is operational, running excursion service in Wyoming, with #838 (also FEF-3) serving as “spare parts” for #844. The three engineering cards below are from The James N. Lhotak Digital Exhibition, recently donated to us at the Pueblo Railway Foundation. We are in the process of posting photos of this collection on our Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as here on our blog. We invite you to follow us on this journey through railroad history.