Move Could Mean Promising Future For Historic Evanston Train

Dec 16, 2020, 11:18 PM

The Union Pacific switcher 4420 in Evanston, Wyoming. (KSL-TV)...

The Union Pacific switcher 4420 in Evanston, Wyoming. (KSL-TV)


EVANSTON, Wyo. – Sometimes, the past is the key to the future.

Earlier this month, preservationists began work on a new project they believe could unlock the potential of a historic train.

The 105-year-old Union Pacific switcher 4420 had been resting in a city park since the early 1980s.

“The courthouse needed to be expanded, so there was no room for the 4420 anymore,” said Shelly Horne of the Evanston Preservation Commission. “It’s been here ever since.”

That was until Dec. 4, when a massive crane was brought in to lift the engine and its tender onto flatbed trailers and haul them to their new home outside the Evanston’s Historic Roundhouse and Railyards.

“(It) spent its entire life working here in the yards,” Horne said. “I think when people see it at the Roundhouse, they’ll understand why it really belongs there.”

Members of the commission hope the train can eventually be restored to working order and then possibly even become an attraction of some kind for the city.

Commission chair Jim Davis acknowledged it’s a process that could take a while.

“We’re going to advertise to the world and get all the train crazies in the world to help us volunteer their time and effort to make it run again,” Davis said.

Davis said the move was two years in the making. It also wasn’t totally without opposition.

Horne said some neighbors were not happy the steam engine was leaving the park.

“Over the years there have been several accidents — kids playing on the engine and falling off it and that sort of thing, so it’s been a bit of a danger and a bit of a liability for the city,” Horne countered.

It took much of the day with the heavy-duty machinery to move the train, which took place on a historic date in Evanston.

“Dec. 4 was the actual date when the first U.P. tracks came to Evanston in 1868,” Davis said at the time. “Now today — on Dec. 4, 2020, it’s going back home.”

Horne said he was excited to see what the train can become.

“I’m kind of in love with this railroad thing,” Horne said. “It’s just a marvel to see.”

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Move Could Mean Promising Future For Historic Evanston Train