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Super Bowl XXXVIII Steam

November 3, 2010

Over the years, many railroads have operated Super Bowl trains, passenger trains to wherever the Super Bowl was taking place. These special  trains would transport railroad executives and shippers, as well as provide facilities to entertain guests before the game.

Super Bowl XXXVIII  (That’s 38 for you non-Romans) was held in Houston on February 1, 2004. The Union Pacific operated a passenger special to the Houston Super Bowl, led by Challenger  3985.

As I wasn’t invited to be a guest of the UP on the train, I opted for the next best thing. We made several trips out to see the train on its way to Houston, and upon its return to Omaha.

UP's 2003 Super Bowl train at the North end of Hearne, TX on Jan. 25, 2004

I don’t remember why we didn’t go North of Hearne to meet the train, but that was the correct decision. Take a look at the railfan traffic jam at the far left of the above picture. (Click to enlarge the image)

The train layed over in Hearne, traveling to Houston the following day.

The 2003 Super Bowl train passes the ex-BN Hub Center in North Houston on Jan. 26, 2004

The train took a round-about path through Houston in order to reach Reliant Stadium.

It went via the East Belt from Belt Junction to Tower 87, Terminal Sub to North Jct,  Spence cut-off to East Jct, Glidden Sub to Pierce Jct, than a reverse move about 1.5 miles on the Popp Industrial Lead.

The train was parked across from Reliant Stadium. It remained one week serving as headquarters  for UP executives as they wined and dined shippers, politicians, and any other dignitaries.

The return to Omaha was set for the Tuesday after the game, February 3, 2004.

The first, and only place the train would be in good light was just east of Pierce Jct.  There was a 1.5 mile stretch of the Glidden sub where the train would be going into the sun, and the track would be accessible.

I found a spot that was fairly open and got set up. As the train approached, I double-checked everything to make sure I’d get the picture.

Getting closer, the 3985 began to smoke, so much that it obscured just about the entire train. Wonderful.

UP's Super Bowl Special is eastbound at MP 9 of UP's Glidden Sub on Feb. 3, 2004

I cursed my luck, as most railfans would do in this case. Fortunately, the train was traveling slowly enough that I was able to get ahead of it again,

UP 3985 and the UP Super Bowl train at MP 8 of the Glidden sub, Feb. 3, 2004

Previous  drama notwithstanding, I ended up with the picture that I wanted on this stretch of track.

Within a mile, the road veers  away from the track as you near T&NO Jct.  The train would turn north at T&NO Jct.  It would then be coming straight out of the low winter sun, the worst possible light for slide film,  effectively ending any decent photo-ops.

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