Railfans can’t help but love this Associated Press description of a Union Pacific locomotive that once hauled freight over the Rocky Mountains.
“In its prime, a massive steam locomotive known as Big Boy No. 4014 was a moving eruption of smoke and vapor, a 6,300-horsepower brute dragging heavy freight trains over the mountains of Wyoming and Utah.”
Even better for train aficionados, Big Boy No. 4014 is coming back to life after sitting silent for the past half century. Union Pacific is embarking on a years-long restoration project that will put the behemoth back to work pulling special excursion trains.
The locomotive is one of 25 monsters built by the American Locomotive Co. in Schenectady, N.Y., during World War II.
Earlier this month, Big Boy was moved from the RailGiants Train Museum at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, Calif., to a Union Pacific shop in Colton, Calif.
A crew at Colton will begin Monday towing it across Nevada, Utah and Wyoming to Union Pacific’s steam shop in Cheyenne, Wyo., where it is scheduled to arrive May 8, according to the wire service.
“It’s sort of like going and finding the Titanic or something that’s just very elusive, nothing that we ever thought would happen,” said Jim Wrinn, editor of Trains, a magazine that covers the railroad industry.
“Something that’s so large and powerful and magnificent, we didn’t think any of them would ever come back,” he said.
The locomotive lives up to its nickname. It’s 132-feet long, including the tender, which carried coal and water, and weighs 1.2 million pounds with a full load of fuel.