Skip to main content

    Union Pacific Railroad is going to attempt to get Big Boy #4014 back in service. For those of you who have no idea who "Big Boy" is, it's one of the surviving examples of what were among the biggest steam locomotives ever built. (Many say THE biggest.) Union Pacific ordered 25 of the 4-8-8-4 monsters to haul long trains over the mountains back in the 1940s. The last one retired in 1962.

     Complete with tender, the entire locomotive stretches 132 ft 9 1⁄4 in (40.47 m), and weighs in at 1,250,000 lb (566,990.5 kilograms) according to wikipedia. Top speed was 80 mph (130 km/h), although climbing through the Wasatch Mountains while pulling a mile of freight cars was more about tractive effort - 135,375 lbf (602.18 kN) - than speed. The size and weight of these locomotives meant that they were restricted to trackage that could handle them - Union Pacific had to lengthen turntables at the engine service facilities to handle them and be very careful which bridges they ran across. These restrictions likely mean that Big Boy 4014 will not be going on a nationwide tour once it is back in steam - not without some very special arrangements!

     They all came from Schenectady, NY, from the American Locomotive Company (Alco) and all ran on coal. Union Pacific plans to convert 4014 to burning oil if the restoration goes as planned - it will join the other steam locomotives in its heritage fleet, 844 and 3985. Restoration is expected to take 3 to 5 years at the U.P. shops in Cheyenne, Wyoming. When complete, #4014 will be the largest operating steam locomotive in the world. Eight of these engines were set aside for display after Union Pacific took them out of service. Most are in the midwest or west; 4014 has been in Pomona, CA at the RailGiants Train Museum. 4012 is the only one east of the Mississippi, at the Steamtown National Historic Site, in Scranton, PA. (The picture at the top of this diary is a composite of overlapping photos taken of 4012 in 2010 at Scranton.)

       Returning a Big Boy locomotive to operation has been a long-running fantasy of many a rail fan - that's it's finally going to happen (fingers crossed, knock on wood) is almost too much to believe. When it does, it will be a real reminder of an important part of American history - this country was shaped as few others by steam engines and the railroads that operated them. Union Pacific hopes to have it operating in time for the sesquicentennial of the driving of the Golden Spike. Regular updates can be found at Twitter @RailGiants.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

Poll

My reaction to a Big Boy being restored to operation:

4%19 votes
2%10 votes
12%57 votes
64%293 votes
15%71 votes
0%2 votes
0%3 votes

| 455 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site