‘Big Boy’ passing through Pine County

Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Engine No. 4014 had the capacity to haul 24,000 gallons of water and 56,000 pounds of coal to produce the steam that powered it.

The largest steam engine in the world will travel through the area twice in the coming weeks. On  July 19, the Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Engine No. 4014 will be passing through Pine County on its way to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth. According to the Union Pacific (UP) website, the locomotive is on tour as part of the 150th anniversary  of the transcontinental railroad’s completion. Of the 25 Big Boys built for Union Pacific, only eight remain, and the 4014 is the only Big Boy operating, having been newly restored for this commemorative tour.

While there are numerous places along the tracks to view the Big Boy as it passes by, there are several places spectators can get a good, long look. Its run north from St. Paul on Friday the 19th will include a stop in Bruno at the Pine Street crossing from 1:05-1:50 p.m. According to the schedule, the Big Boy will be on display, along with a walk-through exhibit in a converted box car called “Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car” on Saturday, June 20, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. The public can view both the Big Boy and the box car exhibit for free. Additional activities are also being held during the three-day Festival of Steam. For more information on the festival, see https://duluthtrains.com/event/festivalofsteam/.

The 4014 will come back through the area on Monday, July 22, as it continues on its Midwest tour with another stop in Bruno from 9:45-10 a.m. and a stop in Hinckley from 10:50-11:35 a.m.

To be safe when viewing the train, UP recommends keeping a 25-foot distance from the tracks. Also remember that trains can’t stop quickly, and their speed and distance can be deceiving.

About the Big Boy

Big Boy No. 4014 was manufactured by the American Locomotive Company and delivered to Union Pacific Railroad in December of 1941. It is an articulated (or hinged, because its frame is so long) 4-8-8-4 steam locomotive which, according to the UP website, means it 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, which included the firebox. The Big Boy had the capacity to haul 24,000 gallons of water and 56,000 pounds of coal to produce the steam that powered it.

These massive, 132 foot-long, 1.2 million-pound locomotives were built between 1941 and 1944. They were constructed to haul freight through the mountains between Wyoming and Utah. No. 4014 was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles.

UP reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California in 2013 and relocated it to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to begin a multi-year restoration process. As part of the restoration, the engine was converted from coal-fired to oil. On the  first weekend in May 2019, it rolled out of the UP restoration shop in Cheyenne, headed for Ogden, Utah. In Ogden, the locomotive was part of a reenactment of the Golden Spike ceremony, celebrating 150 years of the intercontinental railroad system.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see this piece of history as it rolls through Pine County. All times listed are approximate and subject to change. To see the full  proposed schedule, go to www.up.com/heritage/steam/schedule/index.htm.

 For major schedule updates, the UP website recommends joining the Union Pacific Steam Club  to be notified. The UP website states that small schedule changes will be communicated immediately via the UP Steam Club Facebook Group and the @UP_Steam Twitter feed located at twitter.com/up_steam.

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