KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A piece of American history pulled up on the tracks outside Union Station this weekend, and on Monday morning, many people got up bright and early to see it off.
One of the nation's only remaining steam locomotives is on a 13 ,000 mile tour across the country. It's part of Union Pacific's 150-year anniversary.
It's known to thousands only by its number: the 844. Union Pacific's iconic steam engine speaks of America's history, and draws wide-eyed children and their parents trackside in wonder.
"Last time we came and looked at it, and I thought I was a little bit bigger than the tires," young Hallie Stamper said. "But now that i came again, I am wrong."
It's steel wheels are as immense as its whistle is loud.
"Since I was two, and first saw a train, I just loved them," Nathan Greer said.
Ed Dickens was once a train-loving, striped hat-wearing boy with one dream: to become an engineer on a train like the 844.
"We come into town and see little kids dressed up like train conductors and engineers," Dickens said. "In some communities, they become our regulars. It's neat to watch them grow up. and a lot of us on the crew were the same way."
As the 844, whistles and chugs its way through cities across America, it relives a rich time in our history. The museum car tells of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Pacific Railway Act 150 years ago, which gave birth to Union Pacific.
This car also contains a replica of the golden spike used to connect the Transcontinental Railroad. Many of our nation's cities exist because of that rail line.
"You go through towns, and there will be families tailgating with a little blanket set up and a little picnic lunch," Dickens said. "It's an important part of not only our company's heritage, but our country's heritage as well."