Heritage Railway


The world has waited six decades to see a Union Pacific Railroad (UP) Big Boy 4-8-8-4 back in action – and now No. 4014, one of eight survivors of the behemoth class, has taken over as the biggest operational steam locomotive on the planet.

As highlighted in issue 252, UP has spent more than five years and an estimated but unconfirmed $4,000,000 to bring American Locomotive Company (ALCO), 1944-built No. 4014 back to life through an exhaustive and highly complex overhaul, to mark the company’s own 150th anniversary celebrations of the ‘golden spike’ completion of what first became known as the Pacific Railroad, then the Overland Route and now the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The ceremonial linking of the Central Pacific Railroad from the west to the Union Pacific Railroad from the east at windswept Promontory Summit overlooking the Great Salt Lake in Utah at 12.47pm on May 10, 1869, was a seminal moment in the history of the US, a landmark in its recovery from the worst excesses of the Civil War that had divided the nation. Similarly, the return of a Big Boy marks a fresh pinnacle in world railway heritage, one which only a handful of years ago few would ever dare hope to see.

Following its international headline-grabbing appearance at the ‘Spike 150’ celebrations, No. 4014 has now taken the place of UP Challenger articulated 4-6-64 No. 3985, hailed the largest and heaviest operational heritage steam locomotive in the world until mechanical

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