PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Hundreds of people lined up beside the Union Pacific Railway in Paragould Thursday morning.
The Union Pacific Steam Engine No. 844 made numerous stops in Region 8 Thursday on its "Trek to Tennessee" tour.
At 10:15 a.m., the steam engine rolled into downtown Paragould.
Union Pacific Senior Manager of Heritage Operations Ed Dickens said when a train like this rolls through town, it gets everyone's attention.
"Many in the crowd and that number diminishes every year, remember when America's railroad used steam locomotives as their main means of locomotion," Dickens said. "The younger generation today, they can relate to steam locomotives because a lot of the animated movies that have been produced over the years."
Dickens said the steam engine is also a great example of how Americans used to travel.
"Before we had the great air travel that we have, the highway systems that we're all accustomed to. This is how you traveled," Dickens said.
No. 844, which was built in 1944, has never been retired. Aside from a few modern bells and whistles, the train mainly still runs on technology from the 1940s.
"To see something like this up close, to experience it, just standing here, we can feel the heat off of it," Dickens said. "That whistle, it reverberates your whole body."
A young boy named Jacob, who came to see the train with his class, learned that the hard way.
During Jacob's interview about what he liked about the train, the steam whistle blew.
"It has wheels, it has a conductor," Jacob said. "It also..."
He was never able to finish that sentence. The steam whistle blew, causing him and the rest of his class to clamp their hands over their ears.
Despite being startled, it's the fascination that comes along with the No. 844, from kids and adults alike, that keeps the piece of history alive.
"It's a special part of our year when we get to travel and we get to share with everybody the locomotive," Dickens said.
After stopping in Paragould, the train made its way onto Harrisburg where it stopped for approximately 15 minutes before going on to the next stop.
The last time the locomotive was in Region 8 was 5½ years ago.
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