If you haven’t heard already, Union Pacific is in the process of restoring a Big Boy locomotive for operation. This is pretty exciting news for railfans, especially foamers (I use this term affectionately) with a penchant for steam locomotives. So far, UP 4014 has been moved from the RailGiants Train Museum at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, CA to Union Pacific’s steam locomotive shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming. UP anticipates the restoration will take about 5 years; they are hoping to have it operational in time for the 150th Golden Spike Anniversary in 2019.
What makes Big Boys unique? The Big Boy was originally designed by the American Locomotive Company as an articulated, coal-burning, 4-8-8-4 to power wartime tonnage over the Wasatch Mountains and Sherman Hill. In fact, originally it was going to be called the Wasatch locomotive but one of ALCO’s mechanics working on the project wrote the words ‘Big Boy’ in chalk on the boiler and the name stuck. There were originally 20 built for Union Pacific with an additional order for 5 more to handle the increasing loads required by the war effort. Due to the impending switch of the industry to Diesel engines, there were no more produced. Only 8 of the Big Boys survive and all are in various states of (dis)repair in static (non-operating) display.
Once Union Pacific decided they wanted to restore a Big Boy, their Steam Operations Team went to visit all 8 remaining Big Boys to determine which was in the best shape to be restored to operation. They decided upon Big Boy 4014 owned by the Southern California Chapter of The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society where it had been on display in the mild climate of Southern California since 1962. To lessen the blow of taking Big Boy #4014 off their hands, UP gave the museum a freshly painted SD40-2C Diesel Locomotive (UP 3015), UP insulated boxcar #453665, and a CA-13-2 Bay Window Steel Caboose (UP 24567). The RailGiants Museum blog has many pictures and reports of the play-by-play action of the Big Boy moving out and the replacements moving in.
Pentrex was also on hand for the elaborate process of moving the 4014 out of its Southern California home and onto the rails. Their new DVD, Big Boy 4014 Update gives some history of the Big Boy locomotive including some nice vintage footage. The majority of the DVD is detailed coverage of how the Big Boy #4014 made its way from its home of 52 years back onto the tracks so it could be relocated to Wyoming. The DVD shows a front-end loader towing 4014 from its static home at the RailGiants Train Museum through the parking lot using pre-built panel track sections (just like snap track!), to the San Gabriel Metrolink line. Then it joined a Special made up of UP Heritage 1996 (SD70ACE), 7 flat cars (6 empty and 1 carrying a vehicle and supplies for the Steam Operations Team) and UP 4014 (a diesel locomotive specifically chosen to help the Big Boy 4014 head to UP’s facility in Cheyenne, WY which took it onto the mainline.)
The first half of the DVD has almost constant narration about the logistics of each step of the elaborate move. The 2nd half of the DVD shows many long run-bys (including some nice footage on Cajon Pass), train meets, and the crowds of fans who turned out along the way to get a glimpse of this historic locomotive and its journey as it passes through Southern California.
More Big Boy
From Greg Scholl:
From Sunday River Productions:
For HO Modelers, from Rivarossi:
Show off your Big Boy enthusiasm with this great Big Boy T-Shirt:
To read more about Big Boys here are some links:
The UP 4014 Project – Memories of the Move (YouTube Video from Union Pacific Railroad)