Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Union Pacific No. 535, Laramie Wyoming.

Union Pacific No. 535 is a 1903 vintage Baldwin steam engine that's on display in Laramie, next to the Union Pacific's Laramie depot.  People who have long associations with Laramie or who lived in the city prior to February 2011 will recall the engine being in LaBonte Park, where it was part of a nicely maintained display.

In 2011 this engine was moved to its current location at Railroad Heritage Park, the park that surrounds the Union Pacific depot.  At some point following my residence in Laramie during most of the 1980s, this engine fell into a fairly poor looking state and its been vandalized with graffiti.  

535 is a small steam engine that was built as a coal burning engine and then converted in its later years to oil, as many steam engines were.  In its current location its mocked up with a retired Union Pacific wedge snowplow.

Oddly the railroad yard facing side of 535 is in much poorer appearance than the street side.  Hopefully the condition of this display is addressed at some point in the near future.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Union Pacific 4014 "Big Boy" and 844, Laramie Wyoming, May 17, 2019

The Union Pacific 4014 is one of the twenty five legendary "Big Boy" locomotives built by the American Locomotive Company for the Union Pacific between 1941 and 1944.  They were the largest steam engines ever built.  4014 is one of 4884-1 class engines, that being the first class, the second being the 4884-2 class.  Only eight of the twenty five Big Boys remain and only this one, 4014, built in 1941, is in running condition.

It wasn't always.  Up until this year, none of the Big Boys, retired in 1959, were operational.  4014 in fact had been donated by the Union Pacific to a museum upon its retirement. But the UP reacquired the giant engine a few years ago and rebuilt it, and has returned it to excursion service.  Its first run in that role took place last week on a trip to Utah, and we photographed here in the Union Pacific rail yard in Laramie where it was on a day off before its anticipated return to its home in Cheyenne which will take place today, May 19, 2019. 

The massive articulated train is truly a legend.

The 4014 was built as a coal fired train, with the difficult hilly terrain of the Union Pacific in Wyoming in mind.  The conversion, however, restores to steam service, but as a fuel oil burning engine.  Indeed, that type of conversion was common for steam engines in their later years.

The 4014 is a four cylinder engine that was designed to have a stable speed of up to 80 mph, although it was most efficient at 35 mph.  It was designed for freight service.

The Big Boy was traveling with two other engines in its train, one being the Union Pacific 844, and the other being a diesel engine.  I'm not certain why the 844 was part of the train, but the diesel engine was likely in it in case something broke down.  Nothing did, and the maiden run of the restored locomotive was a success.

The 844 is a Northern type engine built in 1944.  The FEF-3 class engine was one of ten that were built by the American Locomotive Company. While used for everything, the FEF series were designed for high speed passenger operations and were designed to run as fast as 120 mph.

The 844 was in service all the way until 1960. During its final years it was a fast freight locomotive.  844 never left service and after being rebuilt in 1960 it went into excursion service for the Union Pacific.

On its maiden run, the UP had a variety of class late rail cars pulled by the train, each of which is named.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Ah Crud, I'd hoped to see this . . .

The Great Race to Ogden – No. 844 and No. 4014

But I'm not going to make it.  I'd have to drive all the way to Rock Springs today, and that's not in the offering.

Well maybe on the way back.

Union Pacific 4019 in Echo Canyon, Utah.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Union Pacific Depot, Rock Springs, Wyoming

Classic, retired, Union Pacific Depot in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Union Pacific freight station, Rock Springs.

For some reason, when I took the photographs above on August 6, 2015, I failed to take photos of the other railroad displays at the park where the depot is located.

I did that recently, although the weather was obviously not nearly as nice.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Today In Wyoming's History: A Monument To The Union Pacific No. 1 Mine.

Today In Wyoming's History: A Monument To The Union Pacific No. 1 Mine.:

A Monument To The Union Pacific No. 1 Mine.

A monument, in Rock Springs, Wyoming, to the first mine in that district.

The mine was, not too surprisingly, a Union Pacific mine. Started in 1868, the coal fueled the transcontinental railroad.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Blog Mirror: Lex Anteinternet; Two Casualties of Belleau Wood, Taking a Closer Look. Part One. Frank O. Engstrom. Union Pacific Fireman

Two Casualties of Belleau Wood, Taking a Closer Look. Part One. Frank O. Engstrom.

Recently on our companion blog, Some Gave All, we posted a photo essay on Belleau Wood, France.  We linked that post in here the other day.

Like the poem In Flanders Fields related, in the photos you can see "row on row" of crosses marking the graves of the lost.  Each one of those combatants has his own story of a life that was cut short.  Here we look at just two such lives, however, and for particular reasons.

We start with Pvt. Frank O. Engstrom of Rawlins Wyoming.

Indeed, we posted a little on Pvt. Engstrom the other day on another of our companion blogs, Today In Wyoming's History. We'll start again with that entry.

Some Gave All: Belleau Wood, France. Frank O. Engstrom.

Some Gave All: Belleau Wood, France:

This is a selection of photographs from a much larger entry on our companion blog, Some Gave All.  These feature the chapel at Belleau Wood and are linked in here to note the listing of a Wyoming soldier, a member of the 1st Division, who lost his life at Belleau Wood.

Frank Engstrom entered the service from Rawlins.

Lest we forget.

So there we have a little more, but still not much.  Who was Pvt. Engstrom of Rawlins and what was his life like?

It's not all that easy to tell much about him, but we can tell a little. To start with, he was a 21 year old native of Rawlins Wyoming who was employed as a fireman for the Union Pacific Railroad when he entered the Army as a conscript.  And he'd lived a pretty hard life, by modern standards, up until that time.

Fireman. This photograph is from 1942 and isn't of Frank Engstrom, who had been dead for over twenty years. But the job was the same in 1942 on coal burning steam locomotives.  This fireman in 1942 appears to have been about the same age as Engstrom was when he entered the service in 1917.

According to his draft registration card, Frank Engstrom was born on April 15, 1896, in the town of Rawlins.  He was, according to that draft card, of medium height and medium build, with light brown eyes and brown hair.  He was a single man, but according to his draft card, attested to in Laramie County (not Carbon County) he was supporting his mother when registered for the draft.

In the twenty-one years that passed between his birth and death, Engstrom saw his share of tragedy.

By the time he was conscripted his father, August Engstrom, had died.  We can't easily tell from what, but he was still alive at the time of the 1910 census and was about 43 years old at that time, not all that old.  He didn't make it to 53.  While I can't tell for sure, given the names of the children and the last name, August was likely born in Sweden and had immigrated to the United States.  He died sometime between 1910 and 1917 leaving his wife, Mary, and four children.  The ages of the children at the time of his death are unknown, as the date of his death is unknown.

In the 1910 Census August and Mary reported their son Frank's name as "Franz", although that may be a handwriting glitch.  Both names are fairly Nordic and either could be correct.  In 1910 the August and Mary Engstrom family had two other children, Olga (1899) and Effie (1896).  A John and "Ostrend" would come later, with John being born in 1901 or 1902.  "Ostrend" was younger than that, and that odd name wasn't her name.  Her name was Astraid and she was born in 1906.*

The November 4, 1915 Rawlins Republican reported that Frank was at the wedding of his sister Effie, who married a Wyoming State Prison Guard, Alex Gordon just before then.  He was accompanied by his sister Olga, then 14 or 15 years old.  That prior July the Republican reported that Frank had been in Laramie as a "business visitor", at which time he would have been 19 years old.  His sister Effie was about 15 or 16 at the time of her marriage to Alex.

There were quite a number of Engstrom's in Carbon County Wyoming, and indeed there still are an appreciable number.  Chances are high that Frank is related to some of the Engstrom's still there, although none of them would be his direct descendants.  His sisters had strongly Scandinavian names and that suggests his parents, as noted, were from Sweden, given his last name.  Indeed, a John Engstrom, but not his younger brother, was a wine merchant in Rawlins at the time and did sufficiently well to return to Sweden for a year with his family after World War One. That Engstrom was still living in Rawlins at the time of the 1940 census, then age 63.

In 1915 Frank's sister Effie married Alex Gordon, a  guard at the penitentiary in Rawlins.  She was two years younger than he was, having been born in 1898.  She was a young bride at about 15 or 16 years of age (more likely 16).  While that seem shockingly young, its worth remembering that its quite likely that by 1915 Frank was supporting his mother, brother and three sisters.  One sister marrying at that time probably didn't seem unreasonable under the economic circumstances of the day.

By August 8, 1917, Frank was notified to report for a draft physical at the Carbon County Courthouse.

He was apparently found physically fit for service, but applied for an exemption on the basis that he was supporting his mother and younger siblings.  That request was granted by the local draft board.  Indeed, it seems only reasonable that this be done.

Frank Engstrom was notified that he was likely to be conscripted, however, by October 18, 1917.  Apparently his exemption has been waived or reconsidered in some fashion.  It's hard to know what, given that two of his siblings remained quite young.  Apparently he either reconsidered his circumstances himself, or perhaps other family members were deemed the proper parties to take up the economic burden of the young Frank.

He departed Rawlins on Saturday November 8, 1917 on a train owned by his employer ,the Union Pacific, with fourteen other men who were entering the service and who were bound for Camp Lewis, Washington.

The prior day the band from Hanna Wyoming traveled over to send them off after a banquet at which they played and which was held at the Ferris Hotel. The Elks Club served the men and their families.  That night they could view, if they wanted to, the movie The Slacker for free, as the theater owner had opened up attendance for them.  We don't know if Engstrom went or not.

The Strand Movie Theater in Rawlins.  It was the theater in 1917.

On September 28, 1918, Pvt. Engstrom was reported Missing In Action, with that news released to the public after the war was over, on December 7, 1918.

Frustratingly, only a few days later he was reported as only "slightly wounded".

The May 8, 1919, Rawlins Republican reported the sad news that Frank was confirmed killed in action.  It would later be determined that he was the first man in Rawlins to have died in action, with his death coming on July 19, 1918.  The slowness of confirming news of battlefield casualties, which was already a topic of controversy late in the war, is shown by the fact that Engstrom died on July 19, but was reported as missing in action as late as September, with his death not confirmed until after the war.

It must have been awful for his sisters.

By that time, his mother and his sister Olga had already died before him. We don't know of what, but we do know that it occurred after he left for service in France.  His mother Mary was likely in her 40s.  Olga was three years younger than Frank.  Chances are high that they both died of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.  Their ages and circumstances would have been right for that.

In November 1919, the newly formed VFW post was named after him.  Sometime prior to 1926 another Rawlins serviceman by the last name of Duncan had his name named to the post.

Effie Gordon continued to live in Rawlins after the war.  She and her husband had a son in 1919. They named him Frank.  Alex became the County Coroner for Carbon County.  Effie became active in Democratic politics and still was as late as 1960.

A John Engstrom was reported in the 1940 census still living in Rawlins at age 63, but that was certainly not Frank's brother and more likely the (former?) wine merchant who had returned to Sweden for a year after the passage of the Volstead Act in which to tour it. Was he related.  He may well have been, given the propensity for immigrants and immigrant families to settle near their fellow expatriates and family. But there were a lot of Engstroms in Carbon County and its not easy to tell.  Another John Engstrom was reported living there as well who was 33 years of old,  having been born in 1910.  That was likely Frank's brother.

Today the VFW Post in Rawlins is the Independence Rock Post.

It seems they forgot him after all.

So is this a sad story?

Well, maybe, maybe not.  Maybe its the story of how life was at the time.  This seems to be how veterans of the war viewed it themselves.


*There's some slack in the details as to John and Astraid (Ostrend) Engstrom, and more slack as to Astraid/Ostrend.  Ostrend would be a very unlikely name and is more like a place name, when naming people after locations would have been highly unusual.  Astraid, on the other hand, was a name then in use and which sounds somewhat similar.  There was an Astraid Engstrom of the right age living in Rawlins at the time and she was young enough to have been in 8th Grade in 1921.  She wasn't, we'd note, the only Astraid living in Rawlins at the time as an Astraid Peterson also was.

In the 1920 census both John and Astraid are simply listed without parents, which would have been common for orphaned children.

Capping it off, however, the social notes of the Wyoming Times of Evanston reported that Mrs. Alex Gordon and her sister "Miss Astraid Austin", both of Rawlins, were reported visiting her brother, "Alex Engstrum" of Evanston.  We are totally unaware of there being an "Alex Engstrum" in this picture and we suspect that Alex Engstrum was John Engstrom, and that the first name was a typographical error.  If it was, we also suspect that John moved back to Rawlins. Alternatively, there could have been an unreported male relative in this scenario.  It's pretty clear, however, that "Mrs. Alex Gordon" of Rawlins was Effie Gordon who had one sister, and therefore its pretty clear that the sister's name was Astraid.  The new last name would suggest that she was adopted into a family named Austin in light of her still being a minor.  The degree to which that might have been informal would be reflected by school notes from the following year reporting her name once again as Astraid Engstrom.  On the other hand, the reporter might not have been great and may have confused Engstrom with Austin.

Regarding John, there were a number of John Engstrom's living in Rawlins at the time and therefore there are additionally a number of possible birth dates, although we are certain that this was his name.

All of these individuals trails are ultimately lost. There are enough Engstroms left in Carbon County to make us suspect that the descendants of these folks are still there, but we can't tell from the slim resources we had to make this post.