What's good for a late winter afternoon? Union Pacific Winter Olympics unit No. 2001

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Thursday, March 7, 2019

Some late winter days after work are great for going home, making dinner, and binge watching college basketball. And some days are great for shutting off the computer at work, grabbing the family, and heading trackside. Wednesday was one of the latter days.

For a good bit of Wednesday, the Wisconsin railfan grapevine was aflutter with talk of Union Pacific SD70M No. 2001, one of two specially-painted units for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics 17 years ago, that was headed south on a Canadian National train out of Fond du Lac, Wis. This was good. The sun was shining bright.

The crew went on duty on train A490 at noon but didn’t leave Shops, as CN’s former Soo Line terminal in Fond du Lac is known, until around 2 p.m., thanks to track work. It didn’t help that the train was behind three others climbing legendary Byron Hill just to the south. It also didn’t help that the train faced a string of northbounds that also had been held up. The railroad was pretty close to gridlock.

When we found train A490 and No. 2001, it was parked at the south end of Marsh siding between Allenton, and Theresa, Wis. Clouds were rolling in and dusk was approaching rapidly. Still, if you have to stop a train with a special paint scheme on the point this is the place to do it and make it fan friendly. A wildlife area next to the tracks makes viewing easy. We soon found ourselves in the midst of a small party of local fans who’d been tracking the unit.

A photo session took place, and, of course, everyone joked that the deep snow on the ground was actually foam. With plenty of photos gathered, most of us headed off to dinner. A few hardy fans hung out. The crew, I hope, made it to Chicago sometime late Wednesday or early Thursday. And to UP No. 2001, thanks for keeping your pretty blue dress clean all these years! It brightened up a late winter afternoon.


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