It’s not every day the “Beatles of the train world” rolls into your city, but last night we heard the train whistle blow on the largest operational steam locomotive in the world, also known as Union Pacific’s Big Boy #4014. Currently on a Midwest Tour to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion, this Big Boy was on display at Union Depot today. How could I not walk the two blocks from our loft to check out this impressive piece of history?
Turns out there are a lot of choo-choo nerds in these parts, so lines were a little long to view the one car exhibit. There was also another line to view the inside of the engine cab, but I didn’t wait for that one. You could walk around both sides of the train, though, so there was plenty of opportunity to get some cool pictures without nine million other people in the shot (more pics after the jump). They also had food available on the platform and there were a number of vendor booths in the Waiting Room hall with all kinds of interesting stuff for sale.
Built in 1941, the #4014 is the only operating Big Boy of the eight that remain in existence. It was used in revenue service to haul trains weighing up to 4,200 tons over Utah’s Wasatch Range until 1959, traveling 1,031,205 miles during that period. The Big Boys are 132 feet long, weigh 1.2 million pounds (more than a 747), output 6,290 horsepower and have a top speed of 80 miles per hour. After retirement, this Big Boy spent time resting in the RailGiants Train Museum in Pomona, California. In 2013, Union Pacific regained ownership and started a multi-year restoration project in their Cheyenne Steam Shop. The locomotive was converted from coal to oil and in May 2019, Big Boy #4014 completed a successful test round trip from Cheyenne to Nunn, Colorado.