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 Post subject: Field of Dreams – UP 4014 in Iowa/Nebraska (photo essay)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:23 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:39 am
Posts: 102

Follow the link above to my photo essay of the Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 in Iowa and Nebraska last month. The weather was miserably hot and humid, yet people turned out in droves. Surprising was the numbers just standing around trackside. Not inline for anything – just soaking it all in. It was so much more than the images captured; rather the rare experience and magic of bringing great joy to countless thousands by an operating steam locomotive from a bygone era.

But not just any steam locomotive. Twenty five ‘Big Boy’ locomotives were built to haul freight over the Wasatch Mountains between Utah and Wyoming. In the late 1940s, they were reassigned to Cheyenne, Wyoming, hauling freight over Sherman Hill to Laramie. These 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.

Eight Big Boys survive today, most on static display at museums across the country. 4014 was re-acquired by the Union Pacific Railroad in 2013 for restoration to operating condition. The locomotive’s rebirth was completed in May 2019 and made its first runs since 1959 that same month, allowing it to regain the title as the largest and most powerful operating steam locomotive in the world.

Doing the job it’s now called on to perform as a public relations tool, 4014 is an absolute home run! The locomotive looks good. Union Pacific looks good. The public left with a good opinion of the railroad. Steam and community brought together. All of those people who came out to witness the 4014 operating were surely not all railfans. Mission accomplished!

At some point I will rejoin the chase as 4014 again embarks from home base in Cheyenne for some Southern California excursions in October; I look forward to seeing so many families out enjoying
the view of the train performing. And seeing that menacing yet very graceful beast in motion.

Thank you to Union Pacific and the steam crew for all their hard work in making this experience so enjoyable for us all.


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