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Big Boy draws big crowds

By Bob Lettenberger, Trains Associate Editor | July 29, 2022

No. 4014 makes a three-day run to Denver

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Large steam locomotive pulling a passenger train around a curve.
Large black steam locomotive in crowd of people
Union Pacific No. 4014 — Big Boy — was on display at Denver Union Station Friday, June 30. The large crowd ranged from those experiencing a steam locomotive for the first time to those who saw them running decades ago. — Julie Lettenberger

DENVER—In what will most likely be its sole trip of 2022, Union Pacific No. 4014 — Big Boy — is attracting large crowds during a three-day excursion between Cheyenne, Wyo., and Denver. The proceeds from Sunday’s ticketed excursion will support the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Leading a 12-car train, including an auxiliary tender, EMD SD70M, three dome cars, and a theater-observation car, No. 4014 left Cheyenne, Wyo., at 10 a.m., Thursday, July 28. The train made a scheduled 45-minute stop in Greeley, Colo. Local sources estimate the crowd that greeted the Big Boy approached 2,500 people.

A highlight of the southbound-Greeley visit was Ed Dickens Jr., Union Pacific steam manager, climbing the front of the locomotive to chalk the “Big Boy V” lettering on the smokebox door. Originally, an Alco factory worker chalked this lettering on No. 4000, the first Big Boy. The “V,” formed from the tail of the “Y” stood for victory in World War II. The Big Boys played a significant role in moving war-time freight.

The locomotive was on public display today at Denver Union Station. At times the line of people waiting to see the locomotive extended nearly the length of the train. The crowd was comprised of all ages. Some encountering a steam locomotive for the first time. Others could be heard reminiscing about their experiences when steam locomotives powered trains on a regular basis.

On Saturday, June 30, No. 4014 is scheduled to depart Denver at 7:10 a.m. MDT, arriving in Cheyenne at 12:15 p.m. A stop will be made in Greeley, Colo., at 9:30 a.m.

No. 4014 had been scheduled to visit the Pacific Northwest via California this summer. That trip was cancelled in April with the railroad citing the need to concentrate on service performance [see “Union Pacific postpones Big Boy tour to Northwest,” News Wire, April 22, 2022].

4 thoughts on “Big Boy draws big crowds

  1. Most of the 25 Big Boys manufactured by ALCO between 1941 and 1944 were scrapped, but seven remain on static display -two indoors and five outdoors, under the elements- and an eighth, the fabulous and famous Union Pacific No. 4014, was rebuilt (between 2014 to 2019) to operating condition by the Union Pacific Railroad’s steam program.

    Big Boys were the only locomotives to use a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement: four-wheel leading truck for stability entering curves, two sets of eight driving wheels and a four-wheel trailing truck to support the large firebox.

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

  2. Awesome locomotive saw in person when toured Minnesota and Wisconsin. Also believe the date should be July not June. So should be departing Denver on 30 July.

  3. I guess I should count myself fortunate that the Big Boy has been thru and stopped in my small town twice.

  4. Does anyone doubt the PR value of live steam? A simple display venue will draw large crowds. The rail industry needs these superstars now more than ever.

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