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Big Boy back in Cheyenne after Midwest tour

in News/Transportation
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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
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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
1325

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
1313
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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