Railroads & Locomotives Tourist Railroad Profiles Must-see big steam for 2024

Must-see big steam for 2024

By Lucas Iverson | March 11, 2024

| Last updated on May 22, 2024

Canadian Pacific No. 2816 and others are ready to hit the rails this year

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From tourist line operations to a transnational tour, see which of these big locomotives will be in steam and a must-see for 2024!

Additional locomotives and schedules are expected to be added throughout the year based on upcoming news and announcements. Check back regularly for the most up-to-date list of the must-see big steam for 2024.

Canadian Pacific No. 2816

Steam locomotive surrounded by people
Canadian Pacific No. 2816 on display in Calgary, Alberta on April 24, 2024. Kevin Gilliam

When it comes to must-see big steam for 2024, Canadian Pacific No. 2816’s upcoming cross-continental journey after an extended absence is as big as it gets. The overhauled 4-6-4 will embark on the “Final Spike Steam Tour” to commemorate the first anniversary of CPR and Kansas City Southern’s merger into CPKC. From late April to early July, The Empress will traverse parts of Canada, the United States, and Mexico with public displayed stops in selected cities. For those hoping to ride behind No. 2816, you’re in luck with a June 29 public excursion being offered by the Railroading Heritage of Midwest America and Central States Steam Preservation Association. The round trip is planned to operate along the Iowa Interstate Railroad from RRHMA’s Silvis Shop facility to Bureau Jct., Ill

Schedule

  • April 24: Calgary, Alta. display – CPKC Head Office, 7550 Ogden Dale Rd., 3-8 p.m. MST
  • April 26: Calgary to Medicine Hat, Alta.
  • April 27: Medicine Hat to Moose Jaw, Sask.
  • April 28: Moose Jaw display – CPKC parking lot, 3 Manitoba St. E., noon-4 p.m. MST
  • April 29: Moose Jaw to Minot, N.D.
  • April 30: Minot display – Main St. N. railroad crossing, 4-7 p.m. CST
  • May 1: Minot to Glenwood, Minn.
  • May 2: Glenwood to St. Paul, Minn.
  • May 3: St. Paul display – Union Depot, 214 4th St. E., 3-8 p.m. CST
  • May 5: St. Paul to Portage, Wis.
  • May 6: Portage to Bensenville, Ill.
  • May 8: Franklin Park, Ill. display – 9748 Franklin Ave., 3-8 p.m. CST
  • May 9: Bensenville to Nahant, Iowa
  • May 10: Davenport, Iowa display – Quinlan Court, 101 E. River Dr., 2-5 p.m. CST
  • May 11: Nahant to Kansas City, Mo.
  • May 18: Kansas City display – Union Station, Haverty Family Yards, 30 W. Pershing Rd., noon-5 p.m. CST
  • May 21: Kansas City to Heavener, Okla.
  • May 22: Heavener to Shreveport, La.
  • May 24: Shreveport display – CPKC Shreveport Tower Office parking lot, 4540 N. Lakeshore Dr., 4-8 p.m. CST
  • May 25: Shreveport to Kendleton, Texas
  • May 27: Kendleton to Laredo, Texas
  • May 28: Laredo display – CPKC Laredo Yard, 604 Serrano Rd., 4-8 p.m. CST
  • June 7: Mexico City display – Calle Ferrocarril de Cuernavaca y Av. Rio San Joaquín
  • June 29: Silvis to Bureau Jct. – Public excursion

Visit the CPKC website for more information.

Grand Canyon Railway No. 4960

A black steam locomotive pulls passenger cars down a single-track line under a blue sky
Grand Canyon Railway’s 4960, a 2-8-2 Mikado built in 1923 for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, rolls south with a National Model Railroad Association Pacific Southwest Region charter on June 10, 2023. Carl Swanson

After its centennial year in 2023, Mikado-type No. 4960 is picking up where it left off on Arizona’s Grand Canyon Railway. Between March and October, the 2-8-2 is scheduled to operate on select Saturdays, while navigating the sharp curves and steep grades between Williams and Grand Canyon National Park. A Monday trip is also planned on August 12 to celebrate No. 4960’s birthday.

Schedule

  • March 2
  • April 6
  • April 20: Earth Day
  • May 4
  • June 1
  • July 6
  • Aug. 3
  • Aug. 12: No. 4960’s Birthday
  • Sept. 7
  • Sept. 21: Grand Canyon Railway’s Anniversary
  • Oct. 5

Visit the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel website for more information.

Milwaukee Road No. 261

Steam locomotive pulls passenger train
Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 pulls an excursion on the Twin Cities & Western Railroad. Steve Glischinski

It was a quiet 2023 for this 4-8-4, having made two short trips in June and November/December for events at St. Paul Union Depot. But quiet certainly wasn’t the case for the Friends of the 261 and Railroading Heritage of Midwest America, which were busy with capital projects in Silvis, Ill., and Minneapolis. As for No. 261 in 2024, the Northern Lines newsletter from Dec. 21, 2023, hints there are more trips planned for the locomotive this year.

Stay tuned for the 2024 schedule.

Visit the Friends of the 261 website for more information.

Nickel Plate Road No. 765

People gather around a steam locomotive during an event
Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 takes part in an Indiana Rail Experience excursion out of Angola, Ind. Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society

No. 765 certainly found its place along the Indiana Northeastern Railroad. While the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is always on the search for additional operating opportunities, the third year of the Indiana Rail Experience on the mentioned short line is already on the docket. One of the new events to the experience in 2024 is the return of the society’s Throttle Time program for participants to operate the Super Power star.

Schedule

  • May 24-26: Indiana Ice Cream Train, Angola, Ind.
  • May 25: Wine & Whiskey Train, Angola
  • June 14, 17, and Sept. 2: Throttle Time, Pleasant Lake, Ind.
  • June 15: Tri-State Scenic Excursion, Edon, Ohio to Hillsdale, Mich.
  • June 16: Tri-State Scenic Excursion, Edon to Jonesville, Mich.
  • Aug. 1 and 2: Indiana Railcamp, Pleasant Lake
  • Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Rolling Victory Weekend, Pleasant Lake
  • Oct. 19 and 20: Fall Color Train, Pleasant Lake to Hillsdale

Visit the Indiana Rail Experience website for more information.

Pere Marquette No. 1225

The family watches a steam-powered train go by during the winter.
Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225 leads the North Pole Express excursion near Ashley, Mich., in December 2021. Steam Railroading Institute

After an extensive wheel and running gear rebuild, No. 1225 returned to service in late 2023, just in time to lead the Steam Railroading Institute’s popular North Pole Express excursions once again. In 2024, the Owosso, Mich.-based organization plans to expand the 2-8-4’s operations beyond the holiday season for the first time since 2019.

Schedule

  • June 7-9, 14, and 16: Hands on the Throttle, Owosso
  • June 15: Freedom Flyer – Vintage Baseball Train, Owosso to Ashley, Mich.

Visit the Steam Railroading Institute website for more information.

Reading & Northern No. 2102

steam-powered doubleheader.
A 2022 doubleheader excursion with Reading & Northern Nos. 2102 and 425 heads east near East Mahanoy Junction, Pa. Dan Cupper

It’s a new year for 4-8-4 No. 2102 with all-new destinations as part of the summer 2024 Iron Horse Rambles excursions. While the first of the three trips will repeat the previous routing from Reading to Jim Thorpe, Pa., the other two will each depart from Nesquehoning and head into the beautiful Lehigh Gorge. Layovers are expected to take place at Tunkhannock’s Founder’s Day Festival and Pittston’s Tomato Festival. Additional excursions are planned during the fall season with details and ticket sales to be announced later.

Schedule

  • May 25: Reading to Jim Thorpe
  • June 22: Nesquehoning to Tunkhannock
  • Aug. 17: Nesquehoning to Pittston

Visit the Reading & Northern Passenger Department website for more information.

Santa Fe No. 2926

Large crowds around steam locomotive
Crowds mill around Santa Fe No. 2926 during its May 6, 2023, appearance at an Albuquerque brewery. Alex Gillman

Relearning to crawl before it could run was the focus for this mammoth 4-8-4 in 2023. No. 2926 put in its first miles of operation, post restoration, with appearances at the nearby Tractor Brewing Wells Park and Albuquerque’s downtown Rail Yards. The locomotive’s owner, the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society (DBA New Mexico Heritage Rail), states the operating season of public and private events is scheduled for 2024.

Schedule

  • May 4: Escape The Gate Anniversary at Tractor Brewing Wells Park
  • June 26 and 27: Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society convention at Albuquerque’s downtown Rail Yards
  • Sept. 27-29: New Mexico Railroad Days at the Rail Yards
  • Oct. 28 and 29: Pete Lerro yard photo shoot

Visit the New Mexico Heritage Rail website for more information.

Southern Railway No. 4501

Steam locomotive pulling excursion train with caboose and passenger cars next to line of trees.
Southern Railway 2-8-2 No. 4501 leads an excursion from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Summerville, Ga., at Rossville, Ga., in April 2018. Jim Wrinn

After returning to Summerville Steam Special duties last fall, 2-8-2 No. 4501 will have an extended 2024 schedule. On select days in the spring, summer and fall, passengers will ride behind the famed excursion veteran from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Grand Junction in Chattanooga, Tenn., over Genesee & Wyoming’s Chattooga & Chickamauga Railway to Summerville, Ga. The June 1 and November 3 trips will each feature a doubleheader with Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630. The consolidation-type will mainly oversee the shorter Missionary Ridge Local and Evening Ridge Runner excursions at the museum.

Schedule

  • March 23
  • June 1: Doubleheader with No. 630
  • June 22
  • Sept. 14 and 28
  • Oct. 5, 12, 13, 19, and 20
  • Nov. 2
  • Nov. 3: Doubleheader with No. 630

Visit the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum website for more information.

Union Pacific No. 4014

Big Boy No. 4014 steam locomotive in a larger crowd. Five mind-blowing facts — steam locomotives.
Even though it was replaced by diesel locomotives nearly 65 years ago, Union Pacific’s Big Boy No. 4014 continues to fascinate. Bob Lettenberger

The Union Pacific Railroad’s 2024 steam schedule will see Big Boy No. 4014 heading back to the Golden State before traveling east to the Land of Lincoln. This summer, the “Westward Bound Tour” will depart Cheyenne, Wyo. for public displays in Roseville Cali., and Ogden, Utah. The section from Roseville to Sparks, Nev. on July 14 will host a public excursion, organized by the Union Pacific Museum as a fundraiser. The second tour for the 4-8-8-4 will take place in the fall, traversing through Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Illinois, with additional states to follow – details yet to be released. The anticipated Pacific Northwest tour, however, won’t be in the cards this year as UP states: “As planning continued, we determined that the network capacity on our northern corridor could not accommodate Big Boy No. 4014 along with anticipated demand on a single track.”

Schedule

  • June 30: Cheyenne to Rawlins, Wyo.
  • July 1: Rawlins to Rock Springs, Wyo.
  • July 3: Rock Springs to Evanston, Wyo.
  • July 4: Evanston to Salt Lake City, Utah
  • July 6: Salt Lake City to Elko, Nev.
  • July 8: Elko to Winnemucca, Nev.
  • July 9: Winnemuca to Portola, Cali.
  • July 11: Portola to Roseville, Calif.
  • July 12 and 13: Roseville display – Atlantic and Vernon St., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. PST
  • July 14: Roseville to Sparks – Union Pacific Museum public excursion
  • July 16: Sparks to Winnemucca
  • July 17: Winnemucca to Elko
  • July 19: Elko to Ogden
  • July 20: Ogden display – Ogden Union Station, 2501 Wall Ave., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. MST
  • July 21: Ogden display – Ogden Union Station, 2501 Wall Ave., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. MST
  • July 22: Ogden to Montpelier, Idaho
  • July 23: Montpelier to Rock Springs
  • July 25: Rock Springs to Rawlins
  • July 26: Rawlins to Cheyenne

Visit the UP Steam website for more information.

U.S. Sugar No. 148

Train with steam locomotive crosses wooden bridge
U.S. Sugar 4-6-2 No. 148 pulls a special train for Trains readers across Fisheating Creek near Palmdale, Fla., on Jan. 30, 2022. Jim Wrinn

This smart-looking 4-6-2 was busy in 2023 and will remain so in 2024. Not long after the holiday season, No. 148 was already hard at work hauling passenger excursions across the U.S. Sugar system in Central Florida. From short train rides to all-day trips, from Clewiston to Lake Placid, the locomotive is operating nearly every weekend with more to come late in the year. There are plenty of opportunities for must-see big steam in the Sunshine State.

Schedule

  • March 9 and April 13: Clewiston Comet, Lake Placid to Clewiston
  • March 10, April 14, and June 16: Highlands County Crescent, Sebring to Childs
  • March 16: Sugarfest Local, Clewiston
  • April 20 and 21: Sugar Express Photo Charter, Clewiston
  • April 27, May 18, and June 22: Lake Placid Limited, Clewiston to Lake Placid
  • April 28, May 19, and June 23: Sugar Cane Ice Cream Train, Clewiston
  • July 26 and 27: Caladium Festival Flyer, Lake Placid
  • July 28: Farm to Table Train, Lake Placid to Clewiston

Visit the Sugar Express website for more information.

Western Maryland No. 1309

A steam locomotive rolls along under a dense black cloud of exhaust smoke
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s No. 1309, a 2-6-6-2, was photographed during a 2022 Trains Magazine photo charter. Carl Swanson

For those looking to experience the “Beast of the East” thunder from Cumberland to Frostburg, Md., you might have to wait a bit longer. The 2-6-6-2 was sidelined last December when the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad discovered they needed to replace the piston heads and rods. Fundraising is currently in progress, and the scenic railroad eyes the return of No. 1309 by mid-summer.

Stay tuned for the 2024 schedule.

Visit the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad website for more information.

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