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Union Pacific’s Big Boy #4014 Returns To Cheyenne On Tuesday

in News/trains

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By Vince Bodiford, The Cheyenne Post

Cheyenne-based Big Boy No. 4014 returns home next Tuesday, Sept. 7 from a month-long tour of the nation.

Led by Ed Dickens, the Union Pacific Heritage Steam program’s showpiece is the massive locomotive that concluded its restoration in 2019 with a tour that marked the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which became known as the “overland route” which linked the nation. 

The steam locomotive, and its consist of about fifteen support and vintage railcars, is expected to arrive at the Steam Shop in Cheyenne at about 1:45 p.m. next Tuesday. It should be visible on track on the east end of town starting at about 1:00 p.m, arriving from Greeley, Co., its last official stop before arriving home in Cheyenne. 

Right now, Big Boy is making its way across Kansas, and is expected to arrive at Union Station in Denver on Monday. 

Ed Dickens runs the Steam Shop and the UP’s Heritage program, and he is usually found in the engineer’s seat on Big Boy while it is under way. Ed provided exclusive comments to The Cheyenne Post about the 2021 tour: 

Speaking about the 2021 tour in general, Dickens said, “It’s been excellent. Our collaboration with our colleagues across the Union Pacific has ensured that we’re consistently running on time, much to the delight of the huge crowds that have greeted us everywhere we’ve been.”

The completely rebuilt vintage steam engine has been running great during this tour. Dickens said, “Number 4014 has performed outstandingly throughout the trip.  All of the long hours we put into its restoration and continuing maintenance are paying off. It’s running great, but we’re always looking for ways to make it run more efficiently and flexible from a logistics perspective.”

Dickens and his team converted the Big Boy from coal fuel to oil fuel, which helps make the engine run cleaner and more efficiently. This is the first major tour since that conversion to cleaner burning oil fuel. Due to the restoration, No. 4014 is likely in better condition now then when it was new. It’s also been upgraded with all modern railroad electronics, including Positive Train Control (PTC), Cab Signaling, communications, and more. 

The world knows that Cheyenne is home to Big Boy – and Dickens said that it “absolutely does” help increase awareness of Cheyenne as a railfan and tourist destination. “ In every city and town we visit, we introduce the Big Boy to new railfans who can’t get enough of it.”

Ed Dickens said that when the tour concludes in Cheyenne next Tuesday, the UP steam crew will have put 3,800 miles of track behind them. And they are anxious to get home. He said, “It’s time to reconnect with our families after spending the last few weeks 100% dedicated to our steam program.”

Big Boy made whistlestops in more than 90 communities and one-day public display events in five major cities: Fort Worth and Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and Denver, Colorado.

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they had four wheels on the leading set of “pilot” wheels which guided the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels following which supported the rear of the locomotive. 

The massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyo. There are seven Big Boys on public display in various cities around the country. They can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941. The locomotive was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service. Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California, in 2013, and relocated it back to Cheyenne to begin a multi-year restoration process. It returned to service in May 2019.

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Big Boy 4014 Will Leave Cheyenne In August, Return In September

in News/Good news

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Union Pacific’s famed steam locomotive, the “Big Boy,” will travel through 10 states in August and early September in its first major trip since its restoration was completed two years ago.

The Big Boy, the longest locomotive ever built, will leave from Cheyenne for its month-long trip on Aug. 5.

“We’re excited to be bringing the Big Boy back, and sharing the locomotive with the public once again, especially after the past year,” UP senior communications manager Mike Jaixen told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “If our 2019 tour is any indication, we can expect crowds to come and experience history in motion. People came out by the thousands to experience a unique piece of railroad history and to learn more about the impact railroads have made on our society in the past and today.”

This is the steam engine’s first tour since it was restored for 2019’s Great Race tours celebrating the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion.

The multi-year restoration took place at Union Pacific’s steam shop in Cheyenne, following a retirement that spanned six decades.

“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, 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.”

No. 4014 will leave the Union Pacific Steam Shop in Cheyenne on Aug. 5, making brief whistle-stops in communities across Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.

The locomotive will be on display in the following cities:

  • Aug. 14: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Aug. 17: Houston, Texas
  • Aug. 21: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Aug. 29: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Sept. 6: Denver

The Big Boy will return to Cheyenne following the Denver stop.

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific, the first of which was delivered in 1941 to handle the steep terrain between Cheyenne and Ogden.

Of the eight still in existence, No. 4014 is the world’s only operating Big Boy.

The other seven can be found on display in Cheyenne, Denver, Frisco, Texas, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Omaha, Nebraska, Scranton, Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri.

Union Pacific strongly encourages visitors to keep safety top of mind while viewing and photographing the 4014 on its journey. For everyone’s safety:

  • Remember, trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
  • A train’s distance and speed can be deceiving.
  • The average train overhangs the track by at least 3 feet – take extra precaution and stand back at least 25 feet.
  • Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and right of way are private property.
  • Never assume tracks are abandoned or inactive – always expect a train.

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Big Boy 4014 to Run Again, Likely In August

in News/trains

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Union Pacific Railroad’s famed Big Boy 4014 locomotive, the world’s largest steam-driven locomotive, will run again sometime this year, according to a recent announcement.

Last week, UP announced that its steam locomotives would soon be up and running again and that the Big Boy would likely run again sometime in August.

“We know you missed seeing our steam locomotives last year nearly as much as the UP Steam Team missed operating No. 844 and Big Boy No. 4014,” the announcement said. “We have great news, the Steam Team is busy planning an excursion for No. 4014, likely kicking off August.”

UP canceled all plans to run the steam locomotives in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Big Boy was unveiled to the public in 2019 after a multi-year restoration process.

It traveled to multiple states on a “Great Race Across the Midwest” tour, going from Wyoming to Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, just to name a few. It is the only operating Big Boy to travel the rails since the model was retired in 1961.

The Big Boy name is fitting, as the locomotive weighs more than 600 tons and is the longest ever built. Around 25 of the Big Boys were made in the 1940s to pull heavy loads up steep grades between Utah and Wyoming, and only eight remain intact.

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Big Boy back in Cheyenne after Midwest tour

in News/Transportation

The largest steam locomotive ever built is back in its home of Wyoming after a cross-country trip that took it through six states.

“Big Boy,” the refurbished steam engine returned to the rails by Union Pacific in May, was greeted by crowds of train enthusiasts in Pine Bluffs on Thursday as it returned to Wyoming after a trip that took it through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The locomotive, the only one of its kind to travel the rails since the model was retired in 1961, left Wyoming on July 8 for the tour dubbed the “Great Race Across the Midwest.”

Crowds who met the train as it pulled into Pine Bluffs marveled at its size.

“If you look at a baseball field, home plate to first base is 90 feet,” said Joe Partoll of Castle Rock, Colorado. “(The Big Boy) is another 42 feet past that. It’s a pretty incredible size engine.”

The very size of the locomotive — which weighs in at more than 600 tons — had many doubting the Big Boy could be restored, said Ed Dickens, manager of Union Pacific’s Heritage Operations.

“There was a groundswell of pessimism as we announced the project,” he said. “When you look at the locomotive right here and look at how big it is, it’s just a massive machine. So I can understand a little bit of pessimism that ‘Hey, that’s just too big…’ Well, here we are right now in downtown Pine Bluffs and we’ve got this awesome Big Boy.”

Some 25 of the Big Boys were built in the 1940s to pull heavy loads up steep grades between Utah and Wyoming. Only eight remain intact and the one in Cheyenne, referred to as “No. 4014,” is the only one running.

The history attached to the huge locomotive was responsible for drawing some members of the crowd to Pine Bluffs.

“It’s part of America,” said Rob Davis of San Francisco. “America would not be what it is today without the trains.”

Big Boy embarks on Great Race to Promontory Point

in News/Transportation

Watch as the world’s largest steam locomotive returns to the rails as Union Pacific Railroad commemorates transcontinental railroad’s 150th Anniversary.

Train engineer explains the origins of the ‘Big Boy’

in Community/Transportation

Rail enthusiasts from around the world are looking to Cheyenne this weekend as the the largest steam locomotive ever built begins a trip to Utah.

In this interview with the Cowboy State Daily, former steam locomotive engineer Bob Krieger — a member of the Sherman Hill Model Railroad Club, Inc. — discusses the Union Pacific Big Boy Locomotive and explains the allure of steam engines and trains in general. The model train layout in the background is in operation and can be seen every weekend at Cheyenne’s Frontier Mall.

Largest steam locomotive ever made to hit the rails again

in News/Transportation/Tourism
Courtesy: Union Pacific Youtube posted Jan. 29 2019

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A resurrected giant of the rails built specifically to conquer the steep grades of the Rocky Mountain West will roll through Wyoming once again beginning Saturday.

The Big Boy locomotive, the largest steam engine ever built, will take off from Cheyenne’s Union Pacific Depot on Saturday morning, bound for Utah and the 150th anniversary of the completion of the country’s first transcontinental railway.

In an event to be attended by hundreds of train enthusiasts from around the world, the “Big Boy” will be christened at 9:30 a.m. Saturday before leaving for Ogden, Utah. Ogden is about 30 miles from Promontory Point, where the “golden spike” was driven in 1869 to link the Central Pacific’s line built east from Sacramento, California, with the Union Pacific line built west from the Missouri River. UP no longer has lines near the site.

This will mark the first time since 1961 that any of the 25 Big Boys built between 1941 and 1944 has been in active service for Union Pacific and the event is drawing rail fans from as far as Norway and Australia, said Bob Krieger, a former steam locomotive engineer who now runs the UP Historical Society in Cheyenne.

The attraction for many, Krieger said, rests in the allure of steam engines themselves.

“A steam locomotive is a living, breathing piece of machinery,” he said. “You can see its muscles. You can hear it breathe as it pulls a grade. All steam engines do that. The Big Boy is just the biggest.”

Weighing in at more than 1.2 million pounds, the Big Boy is 132 feet long and hinged in the center so it can negotiate turns in the rails.The Big Boy was created primarily to haul large loads up the Wasatch grade between Ogden, Utah, and Evanston, Wyoming.

“As the railroads expanded and grew their business, the train got longer and heavier and they had to have more powerful engines for the grades,” Krieger said. “The Big Boys, when they were designed, were actually going to be called the ‘Wasatch Class,’ but on the first one to come out, somebody had chalked on the smoke box ‘Big Boy.’”

Of the 25 Big Boys created, only eight remain intact on display around the country. Union Pacific obtained one from a transportation museum in California for refurbishment to take part in the “golden spike” celebration.

The locomotive was brought to Cheyenne, the headquarters for UP’s Steam Division, to be restored. There, crews relied on old schematics to recreate machinery parts that were no longer available for the locomotive, which was retired from UP’s roster in 1961.

After more than two years of work, the Big Boy — now fitted to burn oil instead of coal to generate steam — is ready for the trip to Promontory Point. It will be joined for the trip by UP’s “Living Legend” locomotive, the last steam locomotive to be built for the railroad.

The christening itself is a ticketed event and tickets have been sold out for weeks. However, the locomotives will be stopping at several points along the route before reaching Ogden, Utah, on May 9. (For details, see the schedule at the bottom of this story or visit Union Pacific’s website).

The locomotives will be viewable in Harriman, Laramie, Medicine Bow and Rawlins on Saturday.

Or, for a look at a smaller version of the world’s largest steam locomotive, a visit to the Frontier Mall in Cheyenne might be in order, where a model train version of the Big Boy holds a place of honor in the Sherman Hill Model Railroad Club’s layout — atop a trestle passing over a deep canyon.

Krieger, a member of the club, said the fact that up to 500 people visit the layout each weekend shows how popular trains remain for Americans.

“It’s a part of Americana,” he said. “During the (WWII) years, the railroad was the mainstay for moving freight, troops and supplies. A lot of us, when we were young, were very interested in watching trains run.”

The popularity of the layout translates well for the club’s annual railroad show at the Frontier Park exhibition hall, where several thousand will visit on the weekend of May 18-19. The event will feature nine model railroad layouts and 43 vendors.

Schedule for the “Great Race to Ogden”

To be traveled by the “Big Boy” and “Living Legends” locomotives

Saturday, May 4:

10 a.m.: Depart Cheyenne

11:15 a.m.: Arrive Harriman, depature 11:30 a.m.

12:30 p.m.: Arrive Laramie, departure 1:15 p.m.

2:30 p.m.: Arrive Medicine Bow, departure 3:15 p.m.

4:45 p.m.: Arrive Rawlins.

Sunday, May 5:

8 a.m.: Depart Rawlins

9:15 a.m.: Arrive Wamsutter, departure 10 a.m.

11:15 a.m.: Arrive Rock Springs

Monday, May 6: 

4 a.m.: Depart Rock Springs

4:55 a.m.: Arrive Green River, departure 5:10 a.m.

6:15 a.m.: Arrive Granger, departure 7 a.m.

8:45 a.m.: Arrive Evanston

Tuesday, May 7:

Full day in Evanston, no public display.

Wednesday, May 8:

8 a.m.: Depart Evanston

9:25 a.m.: Arrive Echo, Utah, departure 9:40 a.m.

10:20 a.m.: Arrive Morgan, Utah, departure 10:35 a.m.

11:35 a.m.: Arrive, Ogden, Utah.

Thursday, May 9:

10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.:  Free public display at Ogden Union Station

The location of the Big Boy can also be tracked via GPS at the UP website: https://www.up.com/forms/steam-trace.cfm

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