UTA Helps Restore Historic Locomotive Donated to Utah Railroad Museum

Western Pacific 3002 is the first Western Pacific locomotive preserved in Utah

Salt Lake City (May 8, 2024) — Thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the Utah Transit Authority and multiple partner organizations, a rare historic locomotive has been restored and is now on its way to join the collection of exhibits in the Utah State Railroad Museum at Union Station in Ogden.

The locomotive will be officially delivered to the Union Station Museum at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 10, 2024. Curator Hope Eggett will receive this generous donation on behalf of the museum, located at 2501 Wall Ave., Ogden, Utah.

The effort to preserve a Western Pacific locomotive in Utah began in 2010 when brothers Derrick and Kerry Klarr visited the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California. The Klarr brothers are both UTA FrontRunner employees: Derrick is an operations system supervisor and a long-standing member of the Promontory Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society with a ten-year history of involvement with donation and restoration projects, while Kerry is a vehicle maintenance technician and is also a long-time member of the NRHS Promontory Chapter. After their visit to California, they realized the Western Pacific should be preserved and represented in Utah, the eastern end of the old Western Pacific system.

The Western Pacific’s mainline once ran from Salt Lake City to Oakland, California, and was known as the Feather River Route, due to it running through California’s scenic Feather River Canyon. The Western Pacific eventually merged into the Union Pacific system in 1982.

While researching Western Pacific locomotives, Derrick Klarr located a former Western Pacific GP35 locomotive in McGehee, Arkansas, owned and operated by the Arkansas Midland Railroad as their #2500. The Arkansas Midland was not ready to part with the locomotive at that time, but Klarr stayed in touch with them, and two years ago, the Arkansas Midland retired the locomotive and was willing to donate it to the Utah State Railroad Museum for preservation.

Western Pacific number 3002 is a GP35, four-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, in La Grange, Illinois in 1963. Only 1,334 of these GP35 locomotives were ever built. Several GP35s have been rebuilt and are still in service. Currently, there are only five in preservation. The Western Pacific 3002 will be the sixth.

Union Pacific Railroad pitched in to help the effort by bringing the locomotive back to Utah, transporting it across their system through seven states.

In March 2023, the GP35 arrived at UTA’s Warm Springs FrontRunner Service Center, still painted as Arkansas Midland #2500. Once it arrived, Derrick and Kerry Klarr, along with Schon Norris (FrontRunner warehouse specialist), organized a team of volunteers, several of whom are members of Utah’s Promontory Chapter of the NRHS.

To ensure the locomotive was accurately repainted to match its original Western Pacific scheme, the team worked closely with the Western Pacific Historical Society, which provided historic paint samples and original paint diagrams, reproduced files for accurate lettering and numbers, and donated the Western Pacific logos applied to the sides of the cab.

After nearly 800 volunteer-hours of painstaking work removing dozens of parts for sandblasting, sanding through four previous layers of paint, welding, applying a coat of build primer and then even more sanding, the locomotive entered FrontRunner’s newly completed paint booth. FrontRunner’s body shop crew used this opportunity to conduct training and become more familiar with the new booth and its equipment.

Ogden City also acquired an authentic, hard-to-find, Nathan M5 horn to adorn the locomotive. And to preserve the restored finish, an anti-graffiti, UV protectant clear coat was also applied. What was supposed to have been a three-month project finally concluded in late February 2024.

All of this was made possible thanks to many railroad enthusiasts who generously donated their time and efforts. Numerous UTA FrontRunner employees, Ogden City, Western Pacific Historical Society, Valley Paint in Woods Cross, Signorama of SLC, Union Pacific Railroad, the Utah State Railroad Museum and the Union Station Foundation, as well as the Arkansas Midland Railroad, also helped give the GP35 a new life and a new home in Ogden, Utah.

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