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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Trains Top 10 stories for 2019, No. 1: Big Boy’s triumphant return NEWSWIRE

Trains Top 10 stories for 2019, No. 1: Big Boy’s triumphant return NEWSWIRE

By | December 27, 2019

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For Trains editors, the story of 2019 is — and has to be — the return of a Big Boy.

Yes, we mean Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 — a speedy 700-tons of steel and steam when fully fueled and ready to go.

Despite being out of service since the time Dwight Eisenhower was President, UP put Big Boy in the hands of Ed Dickens and made mechanical magic happen. In this process, the railroad made a lot of grown men’s boyhood dreams come to life. More important, the railroad won over a new fan base of people who might not have considered that a Transcontinental Railroad anniversary meant anything to them — let alone a regular, old freight train rumbling through or near their homes.

Instead of waxing on about superlatives or the historic nature of the locomotive’s operations, we’re just going to post a video above our text. Please enjoy, with our compliments.

Happy New Year from Trains!

7 thoughts on “Trains Top 10 stories for 2019, No. 1: Big Boy’s triumphant return NEWSWIRE

  1. I’m concerned that railroads have destroyed customer service as a result of Harrison’s experiment. Look at the drop in car load stats. This must be alarming. Cutting employment to cut costs is preventing the rail companies to look for new business. Yes, the Big Boy is news but I’m concerned where we are headed.

  2. Pictures and video are barely enough to describe how awesome it is to stand next to this powerhouse of the rails. Whether sitting quietly, or thundering down the rails, the UP 4014 emits an aura of steel, smoke, and majesty of the rails. It was quite an experience for me to see it El Paso (and I’m sure for it was the same for anyone else who got close to this behemoth.)

  3. No, this isn’t the top story. It’s only a Top Story for fans of old steam engines. The actual Top Story is the fall in freight volume and most of the rail industry shooting itself in the foot.

  4. Charles – You do get cranky at Christmastime, don’t you. I’ll look forward to your joyous posts when the name of the magazine is changed to “Freight Volume.” Should do wonders for circulation. Bah! Humbug!

  5. Charles L.: I appreciate your point of view. What we unscientifically considered in addition to immediate significance was the rarity of an event or a story. Given the time it’s been parked, 4014’s return makes it about as rare as seeing Haley’s Comet for most people.

    Freight traffic, by contrast, has been up and down, and was at its nadir during the Great Recession. 2019 numbers don’t come close to that, we think.

    What’s more, Big Boy stitched together communities throughout UP’s network and drew more than 1 million people (UP’s figures) to see the locomotive. This was big for steam fans, but an even bigger existential boost for railroading. If you haven’t watch the video above, please do. People were going gaga over this locomotive all year long. UP, and railroads generally, benefited from it and will reap rewards for years.

    That’s what makes Big Boy No. 1 this year.

  6. This deserves to be #1 as it was and is a huge story. My friends and I were lucky enough to catch the train going thru Echo on our way to Ogden. We paced it for 25 mins or more, and not much traffic on the road, we were able to keep up until the train veered away. One friend did get a video of it, and plenty of pics taken too. We also saw #4014 in W. Chicago so we could get a close look and talk to crew, too many people at Ogden. One friend knows the steam crew and she got us into the steam shop in 2017. #4014 was in sections but Ed said they would get it done on time and they did. I also saw it again in Kansas City a few weeks ago and we hope it will come to St. Louis. This video is awesome and shows the huge crowds that turned out everywhere. Steve, I agre with what you said and your #6 story was about HH and PSR and how that has impacted the industry.

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