Wyoming’s Big Boy 4014 Locomotive Rescues Freight Train Stuck In Nebraska

During a break in its recent tour of the tracks between Cheyenne and the College World Series in Omaha, Big Boy 4014, the heaviest locomotive of all time, powered up to help move a stuck freight train.

Greg Johnson

July 10, 20232 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It may have retired 64 years ago, but Union Pacific Railroad's giant Big Boy 4014 locomotive still has plenty under the hood. Just ask the stuck freight train Big Boy pushed out of a jam during its recent jaunt across Nebraska for the College World Series in Omaha.

The heaviest single expansion steam locomotive ever built, Big Boy 4014 measures 132 feet long and weighs in at a whopping 1.2 million pounds. Its 7,000 horsepower was just what was needed June 29 when a freight train became bogged down heading west over a feature called Blair Hill near Omaha.

Having completed its schedule of being on display at the College World Series, Union Pacific’s Big Boy was ready to return to its home base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but was close enough to answer the freight train’s call for assistance.

“A locomotive that was experiencing a mechanical issue got a little help from Union Pacific’s Big Boy No. 4014 steam locomotive last month,” Union Pacific says in a statement to Cowboy State Daily. “Big Boy hooked on and pushed (another) Union Pacific train for about 20 minutes on June 29, helping the train clear a steep hill.”

Watch on YouTube

Still Has The Muscle

The rescue was captured on video by YouTuber Otto the Railfan, and in just over 12 minutes you can watch Big Boy 4014 creep up behind the freight train, hook on, then power up as it begins to push.

Gleaming black and looking sleek, Big Boy was actually working for the first time in more than six decades, and it appears the engineers were having as much fun as those looking on.

The video then cuts to a railroad crossing, where an eclectic mix of rusted railcars, some with colorful graffiti, trundle by until Big Boy 4014 comes into view, it’s telltale 1940s steam engine chug-a-chugging unlike any that have likely crossed those tracks for decades, a strong white plume of steam spouting from the back of the locomotive.

After about 20 minutes, the freight train was able to pull away and finish the route on its own and Big Boy 4014 resumed its trip back to its home base in Cheyenne, UP says, adding that, “Big Boy was in the right place at the right time to help keep our network open.”

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Greg Johnson can be reached at greg@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.