SALT LAKE CITY — One of the largest steam locomotives ever built is making a stop in Salt Lake City on Saturday, and the public is invited to check it out.
Union Pacific had 25 steam engines hauling freight across the country during the 1940s and 1950s. One train, the Big Boy 4014, ran primarily between Ogden and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The 4014 traveled more than a million miles during its 20 years of service. It was fueled with 56,000 pounds of coal, which produced the steam.
In 1962, the Big Boy was retired to a train museum in Pomona, California, and has been there ever since.
Only eight steam engines like the Big Boy remain. Recently, Union Pacific decided that the 600-ton steam engine would undergo a five-year restoration.
“It brings back a lot of memories from when I was a child, and a lot of people I think feel that same way,” Dale Jones, a former Union Pacific employee, said. “It’s an era that’s a long time gone.”
Getting the Big Boy rolling again took an amazing effort. The tedious project began last August at the Rail Giants Train Museum in Pomona.
“It sat for 52 years, some parts were rusty,” Ed Dickens of Union Pacific Heritage Operations, said. “A lot of old oil and grease, and we just had to chip away at it."
The train was almost completely dismantled, parts repaired and in some cases remade. To move the train from the museum to the main rail line more than a mile away, temporary track panels leap-frogged from the back of the engine to the front.
The restoration will take place in Cheyenne, Wyoming. At the various stops during its 1,300-mile journey, the Big Boy is constantly inspected for any problems.
After the three- to five-year complete renovation, the engine will chug down the tracks on its own, powered by liquid fuel.
It has been a popular attraction on its journey thus far, and Dickens is excited to show the Big Boy off in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
“It can live and breathe again and roam the Union Pacific railroad and serve as an ambassador. It makes friends wherever it goes,” Dickens said.
The Big Boy will be on display on the tracks at 1020 Warm Springs Road from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. It heads to Ogden Sunday morning and will be on display there through Monday night, and then it heads to Evanston and Rock Springs. It will arrive in Cheyenne next Thursday, May 8.