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Railfans view UP Big Boy in Huffman

Photos by Jody Fuchs and Chris Wisdom

HUFFMAN – The world’s largest steam engine made an appearance in Huffman and Houston last week, on its 10 state, 32 day tour through the midwest of the United States.

Union Pacific No. 4014 is also known as “Big Boy” for its huge and unique size.

It was restored in 2019, and since has been housed in the UP engine facilities in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Almost every year the UP takes one of their restored steam locomotives on a tour of the United States for publicity purposes. Last year they skipped the tour due to the Pandemic, so Railfans were very enthusiastic to get a chance to see 4014 this year.

After spending a day in downtown Houston, where the public got to board the train and the Museum car that it was pulling, it steamed away toward New Orleans, passing through Huffman and stopping for photo opportunities. Several hundred people were on hand to witness the huge locomotive and enjoy the unique experience.

No. 4014 left the Steam Shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming, August 5, making brief whistle-stops in communities across Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. The locomotive will be on display in the following cities:

Fort Worth, Texas
Houston, Texas
New Orleans, Louisiana
St. Louis, Missouri
Denver, Colorado

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they had four wheels on the leading set of “pilot” wheels which guided the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels following which supported the rear of the locomotive. The massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyo.

There are seven Big Boys on public display in various cities around the country. They can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941. The locomotive was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service. Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California, in 2013, and relocated it back to Cheyenne to begin a multi-year restoration process. It returned to service in May 2019 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion.