Southern Pacific 982

9726.1245480137-2

1957 Southern Pacific Railroad gave steam engine, SP 982, to the Houston Jaycees and the City of Houston as co-owners through city ordinance #57-612. She was brought to Houston as a symbol of our city seal and as a constant reminder of our heritage. Because of the importance of rail to our city, Houston was once known as the city “where 17 railroads meet the sea”. Built in 1919, SP 982 is a rare tangible object of this historic moment in Houston, Texas and American history. The engine represents the end of the industrial revolution and the importance of rail in Houston’s growth and success as a great city. She is the only real symbol or our city seal in the Houston area. After logging 3.5 million miles, the locomotive is credited with helping settle the great state of Texas. While hundreds were built in America, today there are only two engines of her type remaining in existence.

SP 982 was almost lost forever and dismantled for scrap metal. An alternate site was found that would require the sale and move of the locomotive to a location out of reach of the general public. The Houston Jaycees were made to act, impeded with a deadline, to preserve this important piece of history. Due to the new master plan of Hermann Park not including the steam engine – Operation Choo Choo II was born. Named after the first project which brought the steam engine from downtown Houston to Hermann Park, Operation Choo Choo II included not only moving the steam engine, but asbestos abatement; restoration of the engine and tender; locate, acquire and prepare the new site; relocation of SP 982 and her continued preservation.

On August 24 – 28, 2005, SP 982 was moved into downtown 169 years afther the Allen brothers founded Houston. She was placed in a center of activity at the corner of Texas Avenue and Avenidas de las Americas between the George R. Brown Convention Center and Union Station /Minute Maid Park. The City of Houston donated the land where she sits which provides maximum exposure and places the locomotive across downtown from the former Southern Pacific Grand Central Station and approximately one mile from the first railroad in Texas inaugurated on September 7, 1853. The History Channel filmed the move of SP 982 for their Mega Movers series. Along with the move, SP 982 and Houston’s important rail history were spotlighted.

The addition of SP982 to downtown helps to accomplish our city’s goal of making downtown more family friendly. Plans include placing historic markers, a thank you plaque and historic information at the new site. In the future we would like to light her up at night, make her bell ring by simply pushing a button on the fence and make her smoke stack smoke once again giving downtown Houston an animated and interactive historic display. Kids are sure to delight in our 188-ton antique treasure. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Operation Choo Choo II was a true community effort. From financial donors to individuals fighting the elements to restore her.

The Little Engine That Could Owes Special Thanks to:

Jaycee Urban Development Foundation
Halliburton
Houston Downtown Management District
Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce Foundation
City of Houston
Houston Convention and Entertainment Facilities Dept.
Houston Astros Baseball Club
Barnhart Crane & Rigging
Honesty Environmental
Union Pacific
Vaughn Construction
Port Terminal Rail Association
Specialized Rail Transport
NARSTCO
Menard Railroad Material
Trac-work
Walter P. Moore and Associates
Perma Craft Builders
Houston Steel Service
Rust Bullet
Lowe’s Home Improvement
Valspar Paint
Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
Sue Davis Communications
LD Systems
Marble Slab Creamery on Holcombe
Home Plate Bar & Grill
Greg Harbar’s The Gypsies
Doug Ashcraft
The Honorable Charles Bacarisse
Jonathon Black
Bob Borochoff
Bob Boudreaux
Boy Scout Troop #498
David Brower
The Honorable Jack Cato
David Chaumette
Chick-fil-A Galleria
Susan Christian
Russell Clark
Yvonne Clayton
Eileen Colgin
The Honorable Geoff Connor
Rick Costello
Marta Crinejo
Randall Crump
Richard Davenport
Sue Davis
Leigh Ann Dawson
Andy Diraddo
Joel Draught
Al Dykes
Jim Edmonds
David Edwards
The Honorable Mark Ellis
Bob Eury
Bob Felix
Bobby Forest
Jason Fuller
Monsignor Golasinski
The Honorable Mark Goldberg
Tommy Graves
Guy Hagstette
Jeanne Haner
Gladys Harrison
Jim Harrison
Anna Hawley
Darrell Himel
Chantana Hiran
Nick Hiran
The History Channel
Craig Holley
Home Plate Bar & Grill
The Honorable Pam Holm
Houston Astros Baseball Club
Houston City Council
Houston Public Works and Engineering
Houston Police Department
Mike Howard
Kamal Hussein
The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
Incarnate Word Acadamy
Lisa Johnson
Robert Johnson
Fred King
Otmar Kolber
Greg Lall
The Honorable Bob Lanier
Richard Lapin
Jeff Larson
Steven Lewis
Beverly Loftis
Jack Loftis
Rob Matwick
Mayor’s Office of Special Events
Drayton McLane
Bob Menard
Ray Miller
RJ Montgomery
Jeff Moseley
Amanda Moyers
Calvin Nelson
Dean Nelson
Stella Pereira
Felicia Provada
Pete Radowick
The Honorable Gordon Quan
Greg Radler
T. Rebagay
Jessica Ritter
Saint Arnold’s Brewery
St. Thomas High School
Joe Sanchez
Tom Schneider
Jim Settles
Mike Simpson
John Sorrentino
Johnny Soto
Danny Thompson
Ricky Thompson
Chris Travis
Dawn Ullrich
Bobby Vasquez
Helen Welch
The Honorable Louie Welch
The Honorable Bill White
Jim Yates
44 Blue Productions