May 21, 2019
Celebrating a Nation Connected and the Return of a Giant
“Done!” This one word was telegraphed to the world from Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869 – 150 years ago. It signaled the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental rail line following years of political maneuvering, a civil war, and great expense of human effort and treasure. Our nation was forever changed.   
Fast-forward to May 10, 2019, when “Done” was sent to the world again during the 150 th reenactment ceremony of the Transcontinental Line’s completion. In our world of high speed internet, it’s important to give pause and recognize one of the nation’s greatest achievements in a previous time.   
The Museum of the American Railroad, which celebrates the profound impact of the railroad on American life and culture, was pleased to celebrate the Transcontinental Railroad’s sesquicentennial anniversary on Friday, May 10. It was a watch party of sorts, featuring live streaming of the Promontory reenactment broadcast by KSL Television of Salt Lake City. At the same time, another milestone in railroading was observed – the return to steam of Union Pacific’s “Big Boy” #4014! 
Held in the Frisco Discovery Center’s Black Box Theater, the event was well attended by over 75 people. In addition to presentations and live streaming, participants were treated to cab tours of #4018 by Museum volunteers and staff. While #4018 sits silent, it still exudes power and majesty, resplendent in gloss black and silver paint applied just a few years ago.
Prior to streaming the live ceremony, the Museum’s event featured two local speakers on related subjects. The Museum’s board chair, Bill Blaylock, spoke eloquently about the political, economic, and social effects of the Transcontinental Line – before, during, and after construction. He prepared several illustrative and informative PowerPoint slides, which will no doubt be incorporated into the Museum’s educational programs.  Along with his presentation, Bill penned an op-ed paper which was made available to the media. 
Bob LaPrelle (Museum CEO), Jane Sanders (Donor of TrainTopia Layout), and P.W. McCallum (Grapevine CVB Executive Director) pose during the sesquicentennial celebration.
Fardeen Alam, Bob Palka, Rayna Alam (Museum Dir. of Education), and Dell Holmes pose in TrainTopia.
Union Pacific locomotive #4014 reclaims title of world's largest operating steam locomotive during break-in runs near Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Bill’s presentation was followed by a talk from Ban Bywaters, who chronicled the development and use of articulated steam locomotives, which ultimately led to the construction of Union Pacific’s 4000-Class Big Boys. Ban discussed the successes and failures of the unique design, and the intense competition between the nation’s three largest steam builders: Baldwin, ALCO, and Lima. 
Ban Bywaters is a lifelong Dallasite with a passion for railroads. He witnessed first-hand the end of steam in the late 1950s. Ban is best known for sharing the wonder and magic of electric trains with millions of visitors to the Trains at North Park. He founded the attraction many years ago on a much more modest scale when he placed his personal Lionel trains under the Christmas tree in the lobby of Dallas Federal Savings & Loan. It grew into an annual tradition, ultimately benefitting countless families through the Ronald McDonald House Charities. 
Following a catered lunch, guests of the sesquicentennial event were treated to a photographic chronology on the history of the Museum’s Big Boy #4018, presented by CEO Bob LaPrelle. The 44 slides featured rare in-service photos (#4018 was apparently camera shy compared to its running mates), views of its arrival at Fair Park in 1965, the move to Frisco, and images of its ultimate placement in the Museum’s future Exhibits Pavilion. 
Live streaming of the Promontory Summit event began just after 1:15pm CST, providing moving, and at times amusing, words and anecdotes. The preceding day was perhaps the most celebrated by rail enthusiasts when Union Pacific Railroad held their own celebration in Salt Lake City, and debuted fully restored Big Boy #4014 with a full head of steam. 
The big articulated engine was reclaimed from a California museum by Union Pacific after a national search for the best candidate for restoration. Of the original 25 constructed, eight preserved examples survive.  Following nearly five years of extensive restoration in UP’s Cheyenne, Wyoming steam shop, #4014 returned to its position of superiority on the rails. Locomotive #844 was also part of the event, the last steam engine to be delivered to the Union Pacific, with the distinction of continuous service since 1944. 
The Museum’s sesquicentennial event was well attended. Look for announcements about future events and symposiums. 
UP #4014 takes to the main line with the railroad's corporate fleet in tow. This view is just prior to its formal debut in Salt Lake City during the Transcontinental Line sesquicentennial celebration.
Paradise Comes to the Railroad Museum
Paradise, Texas 3rd graders pose in front of the Frisco Discovery Center with Bill Blaylock (center in back row).
Paradise, Texas that is! Field trips require additional resources which can put a strain on the budgets of outlying schools. When the Paradise, TX ISD contacted the Museum about bringing their 3 rd grade students, transportation was not an issue but admission proved to be a stretch. 
Recognizing the importance of reaching beyond the North Texas region to deliver the Museum’s educational programs, Bill and Elaine Blaylock graciously provided funding for 85 third grade students and chaperones. On Tuesday, April 30, the kids were treated to the Museum’s five-station educational program including a scavenger hunt in TrainTopia. 
Bill and Elaine Blaylock have a long history of community service. Bill is Vice President & Senior Tax Counsel for Texas Instruments, and currently serves on several non-profit boards. He has chaired the Museum’s board since 2015, and also serves on the board of the Dallas Opera. Elaine Blaylock has a passion for historic preservation. She currently serves on the board of Gunston Hall, a national landmark in Virginia and home to George Mason, one of the original founding fathers. She also serves on the board of the National Society of Colonial Dames, and is a trustee of the Dallas Opera. 
Our thanks to the Blaylocks for making this field trip possible and creating a positive experience for so many deserving kids.
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 The Museum of the American Railroad is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable corporation chartered in the state of Texas in 1962. The mission of the Museum is to enrich the lives of others through meaningful, relevant programs and exhibits that relate the history & technology of the Railroad and its profound impact on American life and culture.