Best of 2019: The Union Pacific #4014 Big Boy and #844 Steam Locomotives In Action

Best of 2019: The Union Pacific #4014 Big Boy and #844 Steam Locomotives In Action

I don’t know of any little kid that isn’t fascinated by trains. Whether it was listening to the freight trains of the Illinois Central line rip past the backyard of my stepmother’s parent’s house at full song and volume, close enough to actually see the engineers, hearing the far-off echoes of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe line as the trains made their way from Tacoma up to the Canadian border, or listening to the cars couple and decouple in the Yermo yard near Fort Irwin, trains simply entrance dreams: rolling along the tracks of the Northern Transcon line through some of the most beautiful locations in the country; freighthopping for the hell of it when you are young, dumb and adventurous; and stretching out tons upon tons of freight across the Plains, knowing that you were in control of one of the biggest engineering marvels to ever be dreamt up by man. The train rules…the bigger, the better.

And they didn’t come much bigger than Union Pacific #4014. One of the 27 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” steam locomotives that American Locomotive Company cranked out, a 625 ton behemoth of a rig that carried about 25 tons of coal in it’s tender in revenue service , it is the only one that is fully operational. A former museum piece, 4014 was returned to Union Pacific in 2013, and restoration work began in 2016. 4014 first fired in early April of 2019 and at the beginning of May, had started to move under it’s own power for the first time in nearly sixty years…prior to being sent to the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society’s Southern California RailGiants Train Museum in Pomona, California, 4014 had last run a revenue service route in 1959. During the restoration process, the locomotive was converted from coal-burning to a system that burns No.5 oil instead. It is still a steam train, requiring about 24,000 gallons of water to be on-hand to make clouds, chuffing noises, and of course, give the whistle it’s vocal cords.

Nothing against the big diesel-electric movers, but there will always be a place for the steam-puffing locomotive.

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8 thoughts on “Best of 2019: The Union Pacific #4014 Big Boy and #844 Steam Locomotives In Action

  1. geo815

    With the amount time and energy the Cheynne steam yard puts into restoring these iron giants, the attention is well-deserved.

  2. KCR

    This is great. My hat is off to whom ever raised ,or gave money to restore these engines. And of course ,to those that put in thousands of hours to do all the work. With the crowds looking on .I would think ,time well spent.

  3. CyberRanger

    It was within 3 mi of our home & we missed it. Bummer. Turned out there were more people at the water tower & crossing than actually live on the road on both sides of the state line.

    Would’ve been cool to see in person.

  4. Ronnieroadster

    We lucked out on our cross country journey in August to run our car at Speedweek. The big Boy was heading west the same time and day we were in Nebraska. So we were able to see this incredible engine in person at the 5th street crossing in Kearney Neb. Outstanding performance by the entire steam operations crew and the Union Pacific railroad that put up all the money to get this giant back in operation for all to see.

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