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Trains LIVE — Union Pacific’s Ed Dickens

By Steve Sweeney | December 7, 2023

A conversation about Big Boy with the UP's steam executive

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Trains LIVE — Union Pacific’s Ed Dickens — 08-17-2022 — Between July 28 and 30, 2022, Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 made a trip from its home base in Cheyenne, Wyo., to Denver and back. Bob Lettenberger, Tr

Large black Big Boy steam locomotive in crowd of people. Trains LIVE — Union Pacific's Ed Dickens.
Big Boy pauses in Greeley, Colo., en route to Denver on July 28, 2022. Heavy rains soaked the area the night before and everything was muddy, but this did not stop a crowd of nearly 2,500 from greeting Big Boy in this north central Colorado town. Bob Lettenberger

ains associate editor, followed the trip and rode along in the cab from Greeley, Colo., to Cheyenne on the return leg. Seeing Big Boy while standing trackside is one thing, but riding in the cab provides an entirely new perspective on the world’s largest operating steam locomotive and how the crew operates this incredible machine.

This week, Bob reflects on his Big Boy adventure and talks with Union Pacific’s Ed Dickens, manager of steam operations, about Big Boy No. 4014. The conversation takes us into how the crew functions while running and the nuances of operating an 80-plus-year-old steam behemoth. Dickens shares his thoughts on what it is like to manage the UP’s steam program and what it means for him to take the throttle of Big Boy. While the motion and sound of Big Boy may appear to be chaotic, there is a beautiful order to making this 1.18 million pound machine go. This is Trains LIVE with Union Pacific’s Ed Dickens.


Trains LIVE is a regular video segment, recorded live and unscripted from Kalmbach Media. The series began in July 2022. Trains LIVE features Bob Lettenberger, Trains associate editor, Kalmbach Media staff, and guests talking about railroads and trains in a casual, behind the scenes format. Trains LIVE will ask the questions you would like to ask and take you into places not normally open to the public. Trains LIVE also takes you on the road to museums, trackside locations and other railroad-related venues. It is unscripted and presented every other Wednesday at 2 p.m. Central time. If you have questions or comments, please log-in and leave a comment in the area at the bottom of the page. We will attempt to answer questions during future episodes. All aboard! It’s time for Trains LIVE!

Updated from the original version on Aug. 17, 2022.

One thought on “Trains LIVE — Union Pacific’s Ed Dickens

  1. Too bad Ed isn’t running UP. Hope the hated Vena feels gov’t heat, big layoffs right before Christmas, because, why wouldn’t they??

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