TUSCOLA – Tuscola is one of four finalist cities with a chance to host a classic Union Pacific steam train later this year.
The Union Pacific Railroad announced on Tuesday that Tuscola, Little Rock, Baton Rouge and Boise were the four finalists in the Union Pacific's national Great Excursion Adventure - You Route the Steam contest. The contest website can be found at UPexcursion.com.
Steam locomotives were common on passenger trains through the 1940s, but gave way to diesel locomotives in the 1950s.
Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said steam locomotive fans voted online between Nov. 9 and Dec. 6 for their favorite communities served by the railroad.
The company announced the four finalists on Tuesday.
"There were more than 1,600 towns nominated, and the fact that Tuscola made the final four is pretty impressive," Lange said.
Carly McCrory, marketing and communications specialist for Tuscola Economic Development and Tuscola Tourism, said city residents are thrilled.
"It's very exciting," she said on Tuesday afternoon. "We are up against some really big towns and cities, but our community is rallying together in an effort to win this contest. If we win, it will bring a lot of train enthusiasts to the area."
The four finalist routes are named by their ultimate destinations:
– The Tuscola Turn starts in Boone, Iowa, and travels through Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, Mount Vernon, De Witt, and Clinton, Iowa; followed in Illinois by Rochelle, DeKalb, West Chicago, Glen Ellyn and Proviso. Then the route turns south to Woodland, through Vermilion and Champaign counties and Villa Grove before concluding in Tuscola.
– The Little Rock Express runs from Kansas City, Mo., to Little Rock, Ark.
– The Baton Rouge Rambler runs from Dallas to Baton Rouge, La.
– The Boise Limited runs Salt Lake City to Boise, Idaho.
McCrory said supporters for the Tuscola Turn have been using the community newsletter and social networking sites to encourage people to vote for Tuscola at http://upexcursion.com/
Online voting continues through Jan. 17, with the winner to be announced on Jan. 18, Lange said.
The route that gets the most votes will be rewarded by a visit from a classic steam locomotive later this year, and the five individuals who log the most "points" for voting online will win two tickets for the train tour, as well as lodging and air fare, Lange said.
The person with the most "points" will be awarded the title of "honorary engineer" and given the opportunity to ride in the locomotive cab, Lange said.