Big Boy 4014 Returns

No. 4014 is slated to depart UP’s Steam Shop in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Aug. 5. It will travel through 10 states—Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming—making brief “whistle-stops” (see route map below). It will also be on display in Fort Worth (Aug. 14) and Houston, Tex. (Aug. 17); New Orleans, La. (Aug. 21); St. Louis, Mo. (Aug. 29); and Denver, Colo. (Sept. 6), before heading back to Cheyenne. The “Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car,” a multi-media walk-through exhibition “providing a glimpse at the past while telling the story of modern-day railroading,” will accompany the Big Boy on its 2021 tour, according to UP.

This is the first tour for the locomotive since UP restored it for 2019’s “Great Race” tours commemorating the transcontinental railroad’s 150th anniversary. The five-year restoration took place at UP’s Steam Shop, after the Class I railroad reacquired it in 2013 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, Calif., following a retirement that spanned six decades.

American Locomotive Company (ALCO) manufactured 25 Big Boys for UP. The first was delivered in 1941 to haul heavy trains over the Wasatch Mountains between Ogden, Utah, and Green River, Wyo., on a 1.14% ruling grade; 19 others were delivered the same year and five in 1944. As the story goes, the 4000-class series originally was to have been designated the “Wasatch,” but an unidentified ALCO worker wrote “Big Boy” in chalk on the smokebox of one unit during construction, and that’s the nickname that stuck.

The units saw service until their fires were dropped for the last time in 1961. Eight survived. No. 4014 is the only Big Boy in operation; the other seven are on display in Cheyenne; Denver; Frisco, Tex.; Green Bay, Wis.; Omaha, Neb.; Scranton, Pa.; and St. Louis.

A nine-page Railway Age article of Oct. 4, 1941 (download below) describes the Big Boy in full technical detail. Also for download: elevation and cross-section technical drawings.

“Weighing in at 1.2 million pounds, the Big Boy makes a big impression in communities it visits, reminding us of bygone days and the important role the railroad continues to play in our global economy,” said Scott Moore, UP’s Senior Vice President-Corporate Relations and Chief Administrative Officer. “This summer, we are proud to announce that the Big Boy will be back to tour through 10 of the states and hundreds of the communities which Union Pacific serves.”

A steam-tracking map showing No. 4014’s location and route as well as a complete list of overnight and whistle stops will be available at http://upsteam.com.

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