|One of the Big Boys in action|
ALCO built 20 of these giants in 1941 and another 5 in 1944. Each locomotive connected to its gigantic tender weighed 1.2 million pounds!
The Big Boys last saw service in July, 1959. The UP kept them ready for service until 1962, at which time they began scrapping or giving them to museums. Fortunately, because of their unique place in railroading history, lots of museums wanted one. Remarkably, of the 25 locomotives built, eight still survive. Until recently, they were located at:
4004: Holliday Park, Cheyenne, Wyoming
The locomotives had a so-called 4-8-8-4 configuration. A heavy 4-wheeled "truck" guides the front of the locomotive. It is followed by two sets of eight 68-inch diameter driving wheels. Each set of eight has its own pistons and power cylinders. And these wheels are able to pivot under the locomotive frame in order to negotiate curved track. Finally, there is another hefty 4-wheel truck that supports the mammoth firebox, made even larger by UP's need to burn low-grade coal that came from their mines. With their tenders, each of the Big Boys was just shy of 133 feet in length! A most impressive sight when underway pulling a 600-car freight train.
A couple of years ago, the Union Pacific decided they would re-acquire one of the Big Boys and restore it as part of their corporate steam restoration and preservation program. They negotiated a deal with the RailGiants Museum in Pomona to get 4014 in return for some other locomotives.
Recently, after several months of meticulous preparation, Big Boy 4014 left Colton, California under tow by three modern diesel locomotives (one of which bore the number 4014) and proceeded to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where it will receive the full restoration treatment. 4014 will roll again under its own incredible power! I couldn't be happier.