Big Boy Westward Bound

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Union Pacific photo.

Union Pacific has announced the general schedule for a summer tour of Big Boy 4014, the world’s largest operating steam locomotive.

4014’s Westward Bound Tour will start June 30 in Cheyenne, Wyo., enroute to Roseville, Calif., before returning to Wyoming by the end of July. The 4-8-8-4 Big Boy will make numerous whistle stops in communities along the way, with public display stops scheduled for July 12-13 in Roseville and July 20-21 in Ogden, Utah. This is one of two public tours planned for the Big Boy in 2024, with a second tour planned later this fall with stops in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Illinois, among other states. Details of the second tour will be released later this spring.

Union Pacific photo.

The locomotive was returned to service in 2019 following an extensive restoration. In 1941, Railway Age reported on its debut with an extensive technical article (download below).

During the tour, the Union Pacific Museum will host a special passenger trip. “The unique experience is the annual gala fundraiser for the nonprofit organization and provides a rare opportunity to travel on this historic heritage equipment,” UP said. More information on the specifics will appear at when they become available.

“The month-long Westward Bound Tour will honor Union Pacific’s rich railroad legacy and celebrate the railroad’s employees and communities it serves,” UP said. “For part of its journey, the Big Boy’s consist will include an assortment of railcars giving spectators a glimpse into what the locomotive looked like pulling freight in its heyday. This rolling spectacle goes beyond the ordinary journey, transforming into a moving display that honors UPs extensive railroad history, its committed employees and the vibrant communities we serve.”

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014, along with Union Pacific 844, en route to Ogden, Utah at Echo, Utah, to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike. Photo: Wikipedia/Aaron Pedersen

“The Big Boy locomotive symbolizes the pivotal role railroads played in shaping our nation’s history, and the technological advances we have witnessed within our industry,” said Union Pacific CEO Jim Vena. “We are thrilled to share this living piece of history with our employees and the public, and we love seeing the enthusiasm this locomotive generates wherever its whistle blows.”

UP added that in Fall 2023 it anticipated including Boise, Idaho, and Portland, Oregon on the Westward Bound tour, but as planning continued, “determined that the network capacity on our Northern Corridor could not accommodate [the locomotive] along with anticipated demand on a single track. Our goal is to share the Big Boy with as many railfans as possible across our network, and we look forward to seeing everyone trackside–25 feet back–this summer and fall.”

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