UPDATE MARCH 25, 2011 -- Union Pacific has confirmed that the Little Rock Express will make an overnight stop in St. Louis this spring and will be on public display for at least one day. Further scheduling details will be announced on April 27, according to a Union Pacific news release.
Also, Union Pacific's legendary steam locomotive No. 844, pictured at right, will be pulling The Little Rock Express Tour instead of the previously announced steam locomotive No. 3985. The decision to switch the locomotives was made since No. 3985 was in Missouri last fall pulling the Missouri River Eagle to help Sedalia, Mo., celebrate the community's Sesquicentennial.
UPDATE MARCH 7, 2011 -- Starting May 29, 2011, in Kansas City, the Little Rock Express will travel through St. Louis, headed to Little Rock. The steam engine will make several goodwill stops along the way until its trip is completed on June 9, according to a Union Pacific news release.
Union Pacific's legendary No. 3985 Challenger steam locomotive will make the journey. Details regarding the numerous steam locomotive stops will be announced soon.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE JAN. 18, 2011 – The Little Rock Express, whose route travels through St. Louis, won the Union Pacific Railroad's Great Excursion Adventure - You Route the Steam Contest. Union Pacific will route one of its legendary steam locomotives from Kansas City, through St. Louis and on to Little Rock. The excursion date will be determined within the coming weeks.
"We anticipated that communities would be interested in this contest and are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support they have demonstrated," said Bob Turner, Union Pacific senior vice president - Corporate Relations. "Voting in communities along the routes was vigorous, with the lead frequently changing hands by the minute. We want to express our sincere thanks to all those who participated in making this such an exciting contest.
"Congratulations to everyone who helped put the Little Rock Express over the top, and to all the Tuscola Turn fans that helped take the race down to the wire."
More than 178,000 votes were cast, and the Little Rock Express beat the Tuscola Turn by about 3,000 votes. Voting in the final phase of the contest was conducted Jan. 4-17. Four finalist routes were determined by steam locomotive fans voting Nov. 9 through Dec. 6, 2010. The final four segments were:
- The Tuscola Turn: Starting in Boone, Iowa, this segment travels east through Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, Mt. Vernon, De Witt, and Clinton. It continues toward Chicago through the Illinois communities of Rochelle, DeKalb, West Chicago, Glen Ellyn and Proviso, turning south to Woodland and Villa Grove before concluding in Tuscola.
- The Little Rock Express: Starting in Kansas City, Mo., this segment travels east to Boonville, Jefferson City, Chamois and St. Louis before heading south to Cape Girardeau, Dexter and Poplar Bluff. It continues through Bald Knob, Ark., before concluding in Little Rock.
- The Baton Rouge Rambler: Starting in Dallas, this segment runs east through the Texas communities of Mesquite, Wills Point, Grand Saline, Mineola and Longview. It continues in Louisiana through Shreveport, Natchitoches and Alexandria before concluding in Baton Rouge.
- The Boise Limited: Starting in Salt Lake City, this segment travels north in Utah to Ogden and Brigham City. It continues to Pocatello, Idaho, where it heads west to American Falls, Shoshone and Mountain Home before concluding in Boise.
In addition to route voting, five individuals who score the most contest "points" will win two tickets each for a special leg of the winning segment, as well as lodging and air fare. The person with the most points will be awarded the title of "Honorary Engineer" and given the opportunity to ride in the locomotive cab. Individual contest winners will be notified Jan. 19.