The Big Boy is Back: Union Pacific massive 1941 steam locomotive on tour

Belen Ward
bward@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/7/21

Union Pacific's No. 4014 the Big Boy came roaring, blasting its steam trumpet and smoke blowing out of its stack on its annual tour through Brighton and Fort Lupton on August 7. Brighton and Fort …

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The Big Boy is Back: Union Pacific massive 1941 steam locomotive on tour

Posted

Union Pacific's No. 4014, the Big Boy, came roaring, blasting its steam trumpet and smoke blowing out of its stack on its annual tour through Brighton and Fort Lupton Aug. 7.

Brighton and Fort Lupton residents were up early along the tracks to see the Big Boy in action. Brighton's Dee Dee Lewis and her son have ridden every train in Colorado. Her son, who has a love for trains, had to work, so she came in his place, hoping to get a good photo.

"I'm excited to see Big Boy in motion. I missed it last time when it was in Denver," said Lewis.

According to Union Pacific, 25 Big Boy steam locomotives were built for Union Pacific in 1941, weighing 1.2 million pounds and measuring 132 feet long. Because of its length, it was built with movable parts such as a hinge so it can move easily around curves.

Its locomotive was built with  a "4-8-8-4" wheel set up. Four wheels support the pilot that guides the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels that support the rear of the locomotive. The gigantic engine traveled through rough terrain between Ogden, Utah, and Wyoming in its heyday.

The train was wrapping its Midwest tour, leaving downtown Denver at about 8 a.m. Sept. 7, according to the company, and traveling to its final destination in Cheyenne later in the day, with stops in La Salle and Greeley along the way.

David Masten came to see Big Boy, one of his favorite engines.

"I have not seen the Big Boy moving, and that's why Big Boy is my favorite engine, " said Masten.

Around the country, there are seven Big Boys on public display in St. Louis, Missouri, Dallas, Texas, Omaha, Nebraska, Denver, Scranton, Pennsylvania, Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Big Boy No. 4014 traveled about a million miles in 20 years of its service and retired in December 1961 at the Rail Giants Museum in Pomona, California. Union Pacific inherited it and relocated it back to Cheyenne for years of major restoration. They brought it back to the tracks in May 2019 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad's completion -- May 10 1869.

Since 2019, Big Boy No. 4014 and Living Legend No. 844 have been touring the tracks of towns and cities celebrating the Transcontinental Railroad's completion. But the Big Boy is the world's only operating locomotive of its size, according to Union Pacific.

"I've never seen the locomotive engine myself, not outside the movies. It's exciting to see it, " said Jarett Bieker.

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