Kenefick Park NE: home to Union Pacific Big Boy #4023 and Centennial DDA40X #6900

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Kenefick Park, Omaha, NE

Kenefick Park is located on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River next to Lauritzen Gardens, Nebraska's botanical gardens, on Bancroft Street just off the I-80 in South Omaha, NE. The park was relocated from Abbott Drive, north of downtown Omaha, to its current location in 2004 to make way for construction of the Qwest Center Omaha.

The park is open from 9.00am until 5.00pm every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. There is no charge to enter, and parking is free in the large Lauritzen Gardens car park right alongside the entrance to Kenefick Park. There is a ramp from the car park, so the exhibits are also wheelchair accessible.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023 and Union Pacific EMD DDA40X Centennial class diesel-electric #6900 are the main attractions, celebrating the Union Pacific Railroad's long association with the City of Omaha.

I have been to the park on several occasions over the years and the photos on this page are from various visits.

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Kenefick Park
Kenefick Park, Omaha

Below, at the foot of the stairs from the car park, a sign shows the park layout.

The park was opened on 15th October 2005, and is named in honour of John Cooper Kenefick. Born in 1921, in Buffalo, NY, he graduated from Princeton University in 1943 and served in the US Navy during World War II. He began his career with the Union Pacific in 1947 and was elected CEO in 1970, became President of the company in 1971 and company Chairman and CEO in 1983. Kenefick retired from the UP in 1986 and passed away in 2011.

Kenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, Omaha

Above, the locomotives, the park and the
"Welcome to Omaha" sign are visible from the
I-80 crossing the Missouri River Bridge.

They are, in fact, a fitting welcome to Omaha considering the Union Pacific Railroad's involvement in the city over more than one hundred and fifty years. From its inception in 1862, the railroad has been headquartered here, and a grand civic ceremony on 2nd December 1863 signalled start of construction of the transcontinental railway west, although the first rails were not actually laid until 10th July 1865.

Kenefick Park, Omaha
Kenefick Park, Omaha

In 1885, the Central Pcific was leased to the Southern Pacific The UP took control of the SP in 1901, but was ordered to surrender control in 1913 by the US Supreme Court.

During the 1980s, the UP grew considerably by purchasing other railroads, notably the Missouri Pacific, Chicago & North Western, Western Pacific and Missouri-Kansas-Texas.

Above, a sandstone and granite inlay at the top of the stairs shows the original route of the transcontinental railway from Omaha, NE, to Sacramento, CA.

Right, four plaques around the inlay give a short history of the transcontinental line and Omaha's role.

The eastern terminus of the line was established by Act of Congress across the Missouri
River in Iowa. After considering several potential sites, Council Bluffs was decided on and you can see a commemorative "spike" at mile 0.0 on the Golden Spike Monument page of this website

Kenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, Omaha

While the Union Pacific drove its line west from Omaha, the Central Pacific Railroad headed east from Sacramento, CA, the two lines officially joining at Promontory, UT on 10th May 1869.

You can see photos of the historic meeting point on the Golden Spike NHS page of this website.

Kenefick Park, Omaha

Above, a walkway leads from the sandstone and granite inlay to the two locomotives.

The Union Pacific finally regained control of the Southern Pacific by outright purchase in 1996.

Kenefick Park, Omaha

Panels on one side of the walkway give an overview of UP's involvement in Omaha.

The UP built the Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho in 1936. Its engineering department in Omaha designed the first ski chairlift.

Today, the Union Pacific is a great success story, having weathered the ups and downs of Government interference and a hugely changed transportation industry to become the largest railroad network in the United States.

Primarily concentrated west of the Mississippi River, it owns and operates c.36,000 miles of track in twenty-three US States

Below bottom, the last panel brings the UP into the late 20th century with a view of the Harriman Dispatching Center in a converted UP freight house at 8th and Jones Streets in Omaha.

Kenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, Omaha
Kenefick Park, OmahaKenefick Park, Omaha

Above, two views of the central piazza. Click this link to open
360 Panoramaa 360° panorama of the piazza:

Right, at the centre of the piazza there is a bust and plaque commemorating John Kenefick.

Kenefick Park, Omaha
UP #4023
Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy #4023. The twenty-five Big Boys (#4000-#4024) were the last steam locomotives built for the Union Pacific.

Although by the late 1930s, the railroad believed it
should be committing to diesel-electrics as its primary motive power, the threat of war and the lack of an immediately available high horse power diesel-electric freight locomotive in volume led to development of the Big Boy, as well as redesigning of the 4-6-6-4
Challenger class locomotives (you can see Union
Pacific Challenger #3977 on the UP #3977 page of this website).

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

There are pictures of #4023 and an information panel fixed to the railings next to the locomotive.

The panel gives a brief history of the development and construction of the Big Boy, and some additional information on #4023 and its operating life.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

#4023 was one five "Class 2" Big Boys built in 1944 by Alco (#4020-#4024). The first twenty, designated "Class 1" were also built by Alco in 1941 (#4000-#4019). All twenty-five were 132' 10" from front coupler to rear tender coupler. The locomotive alone was 85' 10" long.

#4023 last operated in July 1959 and was retired in July 1962 after logging nearly 830,000 miles on the road.

The immense firebox and boiler required the use of much lower domes to maintain clearances, which partly contributes to their massive, hulking profile.

The engines exhausted to two separate smoke stacks enclosed in a sheet metal casing. A smoke hood to deflect the powerful exhaust from tunnel roofs was also installed and could be raised hydraulically.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park
Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Big Boys' pilots were cast separately with an opening left for a Buckeye Steel cast coupler.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Their tenders were amongst the largest ever fitted to a steam locomotive.

Above, although a clear perspex cover has been fitted to the window, you can look inside the cab of #4023 from the gangway.

On the right in this view, the backhead. The fireman's seat is in front of the window. A brakeman's seat was originally positioned behind the fireman's, but this appears to have been removed.

There is a full backhead view of a Big Boy with the various controls marked on UP #4017 on the National Railroad Museum page of this website.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, the left front cylinder. The lead truck was Alco standard fitted with rack and roller centering and SKF roller bearings.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, the right front cylinder in the foreground. Also showing the steam supply piping, Walshaert valve gear, Laird crosshead and main rod.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, another view of the left front cylinder. The automatic lubrication lines are just inside the upper surface of the multiple guide.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, right front cylinder, steam supply pipe, valve gear, crosshead and main rod. The metal cowl on the left covers the automatic lubricator chain drive.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, left front cylinder and Walschaert valve gear. The metal cowl at the centre covers the automatic lubricator chain drive.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, a view along the right side of firebox. The
red handles are to release the ash pans.
The foam meter blowdown is in the middle left of this photo.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, a view of both left cylinders, Walschaert valve gear and driving rods. At the middle right, the reverse actuating rod, which connects to the reverse lever on the right side of the locomotive, connects to the radius rod.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, a side on view of the rear right cylinder. The reverse lever, mounted "backwards" with a large lever connecting to the radius rod of the gear is at the top. This was operated by a rotary valve, which offered good control and less "creeping" while in operation.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, a view along the left side of the firebox to the left cylinders, Walschaert valve gear, driving rods, Boxpok driving wheels and the firebox. With a diameter of 68", Big Boys had the largest wheels of any articulated locomotives.

Above, the left side of firebox. The manual blowdown is on the front side of the firebox. The washout plug is at the corner.

Above, the left side of the firebox and cab. The trailing truck is a General Steel Castings frame with SKF twin roller bearing journals.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, a view looking under the deck apron (top), the stoker feed connection (upper middle), the radial buffer (centre) and the drawbars (lower centre).

Much of the Big Boys' piping was under the insulated external jacket to protect against the winter cold in which they were designed to operate.

#4023 weighs 772,550 lbs, 545,200 lbs on the drivers. With a 150 sq ft grate, 155 sq ft firebox, 23¾" x 32" cylinders and total heating surface of 7,798, including 2,043 sq ft superheating, they operated at a boiler pressure of 300 psi, delivering 135,370 lbs tractive effort.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, another view of the left side of #4023. The Elesco feedwater centrifugal cold water pump is on the very lower right.

Above, the tender rear. A Pyle-National back up light was recessed in the blank just below where the grab rails join the tender top.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, carried on a 14 wheel (4 + 10) centipede truck, the tender weighs 342,2000 lbs light and has a 25,000 gallon water and 28 ton coal capacity.

Once additional steel coal boards were fitted at the top of the coal bunker, however, it could hold as much as 32 tons of coal.

Union Pacific Big Boy #4023, Kenefick Park

Above, another information plaque next to UP #4023.

Although cleared for other lines, Big Boys operated almost exclusively on the Ogden, UT-Council Bluffs, IA, divisions. Despite being designed for heavy freight over the most difficult
part of that route, however, the challenge they faced is demonstrated by the fact that they were reduced to just 3 mph on the most adverse parts (climbing heavy grades and tackling reverse curves) and averaged only 17 mph on the entire 24 mile Echo-Wahsatch section eastbound. As a result, the UP soon reverted to Challengers on head end with another pusher for very heavy freight until the end of steam on that division in 1954.

You can see photos of more Big Boys on the Steamtown, Southern California RLHS, Cheyenne Big Boy, St. Louis Museum of Transportation Yard and National Railroad Museum pages of this website.

UP #6900
Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park

Union Pacific EMD DDA40X #6900 is a Centennial class diesel-electric, built in 1969 by EMD to haul high speed freight.

One of forty-seven built between 1969 and 1971, it is the most powerful hp rated diesel-electric locomotive ever built.

Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park

#6900 weighs 521,980 lbs. It has two 16 cylinder 645E3A prime movers each powering a GM AR12 generator, jointly developing 6,600 hp to drive eight GM D77 traction motors, one on each of axle of the two trucks. The truck wheelbase is 17' and the wheels are 40" in diameter. The unit developed starting tractive effort of 113,940 lbs at 25%, 103,000 lbs continuous tractive effort at 12 mph and 19,800 lbs at its top speed of 90mph.

The 'X' stood for Experimental, as the locomotives were used as testbeds for technology that would go into future EMD products.

Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park

At 98' 5", the DDA40X is also the longest diesel-electric unit ever built. In fact, the locomotive frames had to be made by an outside contractor, the John Mohr Co., of Chicago, IL, as their length exceeded the capabilities of EMD's plant.

The class was named in honour of the 100th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory, UT, on 10th May 1869, and #6900 was rushed to completion so that it could participate in the associated ceremonies that took place in May 1969. You can see photos of the Golden Spike NHS on this website.

Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park
Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park

The cab design was similar to the Canadian comfort cab introduced by Canadian National soon after in 1973, but lacked CN's structural reinforcements, which were carried over to future wide-nosed cabs.

Another DDA40X test was fitting a few units with air raid sirens to warn trackside staff when away from grade crossings, but the results were inconclusive.

Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park

The modular electronic control systems later used on EMD's Dash-2 line of diesel-electrics were first used on the DDA40X, and the locomotive was the first to be able to load-test itself using its dynamic braking resistors as an electrical load, which meant that external testing equipment was not required.

The DDA40X used the wide-nosed cab from the EMD FP45 cowl units, fourteen of which were built between 1967 and 1968 (you can see ATSF FP45 #97 on the Museum of the American Railroad page of this website).

Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park
Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick ParkUnion Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park
Union Pacific DDA40X Centennial #6900, Kenefick Park

Above and left, information panels on the fence surrounding #6900.

By 1980, the Centennials had accumulated
an average of 2,000,000 miles each on the road, but their service life was short. With falling freight traffic in 1980, the UP took
them out of service and placed them in storage at Yermo, CA. Four years later, an economic recovery brought a resurgence in demand, and twenty-five Centennials were returned to service, but growing maintenance costs led to retirement of most by the end of 1986.

Thirteen DDA40Xs have been preserved. #6936 still runs as part of UP's Heritage
Fleet (you can see it on the Cheyenne Roundhouse page of this website). You can also see #6901 on the UP #2005 page of this website, #6913 on the Museum of the American Railroad page, #6915 on the Southern California RLHS page, #6916 on
the Ogden Union Station page, #6922 on the UP Challenger page, #6930 on the Illinois Railway Museum Yard page and #6936 on the UP Cheyenne Roundhouse page.

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