Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UP Big Boy Locomotive -- Largest Ever Built -- May Again Roam In Colorado

UP 4014 during her operational days
Photo: Union Pacific
It's official. Union Pacific Railroad announced today that it has re-acquired one of their legendary 4-8-8-4 steam locomotives with the full intention of restoring it to active service. After a lengthy stay in the rumor mill, UP reached an agreement with the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Southern California Chapter in Pomona, to transfer ownership of #4014 back to the railroad. Union Pacific plans to relocate No. 4014 to Cheyenne, WY, where their "Heritage Fleet Operations" team will work to restore it to operating condition.

UP donated #4014 to the historical society December 7, 1961, which was the 20th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the same year that the first Big Boys began operations. The locomotive arrived January 8, 1962, at its current display location at the Rail Giants Train Museum in Pomona.

"Our steam locomotive program is a source of great pride to Union Pacific employees past and present," said Ed Dickens, senior manager of Union Pacific Heritage Operations. "We are very excited about the opportunity to bring history to life by restoring No. 4014."

What About Denver's Big Boy?

Big Boy 4005, the Big Boy on permanent display at the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver may have been considered for restoration, but given the long duration #4005 spent out under the open sky in the years before the museum moved, she almost certainly would have cost more to restore although it's unclear Union Pacific ever seriously considered the locomotive, one of several surviving Big Boys around the country.

More

Opinion 

Union Pacific 4014 in Pomona CA in 2005
Photo: Morven, Wikimedia Commons
It remains to be seen whether Union Pacific has a use for 3 steam engines in a special program. Certainly, the steam program is Union Pacific's prime goodwill ambassador, crushing other companies' PR machines under a million pounds of live steam. On the other hand, could it be setting us up for a retirement of #3985, the Challenger that UP restored back in 1981. Such wouldn't be likely right away, but odds would favor its early retirement if someone finds the costs of running or repairs to be unjustified. Personally, I'm excited at the possibility of finally seeing a Big Boy in motion. I only wonder what the world's largest steam locomotive is truly going to cost.◊

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