Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Celebrating UP's Sesquicentennial: Resurrection of Big Boy!

The centerpiece of Union Pacific's 150 Anniversary will be UP 4014, Whyte Designation 4-8-8-4 —   nicknamed "Big Boy!"  She'll be double heading with another historic locomotive, UP 844 next month.

The American Locomotive Co. in Schenectady, N.Y., built 25 of the monsters to Union Pacific’s specifications between 1941 and 1944, and they became legendary. They were the largest steam locomotives ever to work the rugged terrain of Wyoming, aimed at moving freight at track speeds over the Wasatch mountains.

Seventeen Big Boys were scrapped when they were pulled from service, but eight survived and are on display around the country. Union Pacific chose the 4014 for restoration because it spent more than 50 years in the friendly climate of Southern California, at the RailGiants Train Museum at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona.


•  In late 2012, Union Pacific announced that it was interested in obtaining a Big Boy and restoring it to operating condition.

•  RailGiants agreed to give the Big Boy back to the Union Pacific in exchange for some other equipment to display.

•  On July 23, 2013, Union Pacific announced that it had reacquired 4014 from The Southern California chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, with the goal of restoring it to service.

•  On January 26, UP 4014 was moved from its home at the museum, on temporary track, on to the adjacent parking lot, with plans to take it to Union Pacific's rail yard in Colton, California, before its move to Cheyenne.

•  On April 28, 2014, UP 4014 began the trip towards the Union Pacific Steam Shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming, its final destination for restoration under the guidance of Heritage Fleet Operations director Ed Dickens. The Big Boy was powered by SD70Ms 4014 and 4884. A compressor was on board of the locomotive to sound the impressive whistle during the trip.

•  UP4014 was delivered to Cheyenne, Wyoming on May 8, 2014, to begin the historic rebuilding process.

•  On April 24, 2019, the Union Pacific Steam Team is busy making final preparations for the May 4 christening of the Big Boy No. 4014 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Final touches on its paint job are being applied and the last necessary tests are being conducted.

•  No. 844 will double-head with No. 4014 from Cheyenne to Ogden on May 4 after the 9:30 a.m. MT christening ceremony.

•  Here is the revised 2019 Union Pacific Steam Schedule. (as of 4/24/19)

Other Resources

•  The Road put together a exciting web site, with interactive maps, allowing you to begin either in Sacramento or Omaha, building the first transcontinental railroad.

•  Can't make it to Ogden for the big event May 9? Union Pacific will be streaming the May 9 ceremonies live via the UP Facebook page, located at  (If you haven't already "liked" UP's Facebook page, do it today. You'll be notified as soon as the cameras start rolling.)

•  The May 10th events taking place at Promontory will not be streamed live on UP's Facebook page, but will be available via other online outlets.

•  Here is a handy site, the Union Pacific Steam Club. Admission is free, and promises to keep you up to date with the movements of 4014 and 844 and other Anniversary activities.

•  Union Pacific Steam Shop Tour and Big Boy 4014 Restoration (56 minutes).

•  Close up examination of the intricacies of just the front engine of 4014.

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