The Oklahoma Centennial Sooner Rocket Excursion rolled into Duncan Thursday. And, it was a sight that Main Street hadn't seen in years - despite the fact that it was about two hours delayed; it was well worth the wait. The train made its way to Duncan and Waurika for one quick whistle stop. This ride isn't just for history buffs, even average Americans jump at the chance to catch a ride.
It was a historic sight indeed. The Union Pacific's last steam engine has been making its way through the state in honor of Oklahoma's Centennial statehood and the event in Duncan is meant to honor first responders, educators and community leaders as well as building a relationship with the community.
The roads were blocked off and hundreds of people gathered around the railroads on Main Street as the 450 ton locomotive finally pulled in. The train's conductor said it had been 60 years since the steam engine crossed Duncan's tracks. He says it's been a treat to see all of the support across Oklahoma. "Out of all the places we've been to, Oklahoma's been the best so far," he said.
Union Pacific has been planning this event for the past two years. It was a way for them to say thank you and show appreciation to the state of Oklahoma and its communities along the way. Kevin Dawson says the event wasn't just for Oklahoma's Centennial; it was a way to honor Oklahoma Heroes - one of which is Doctor Sherry Labyer with Duncan Schools. Dawson says it's been a blessing. They were also able to stop twice and allow military personnel on board to go for a ride. Union Pacific said it was a great honor to be able to tell our soldiers, in person, "Thank you" for all they do.
Dr. Labyer says she'll never forget this event and hopes others will come to Duncan this weekend if they missed the opportunity to see the steam engine on Thursday. "I think this is a real exciting event for Oklahoma. There's so much going on. It's an opportunity of a lifetime," she said. "You don't get to ride a train everyday, or celebrate our centennial everyday. I think it was exciting as well as educational."