The Union Pacific steam locomotive ‘Big Boy No. 4014’ came to Arizona in October as part of the year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
The first Big Boy No. 4014 stop in Arizona was near Yuma, on October 15. It passed through Fortuna, Arizona on October 16, and headed east, stopping near Dome and later Mohawk, Arizona. By 2:30 in the afternoon, it had reached Gila Bend. Big Boy No. 4014 made it to Casa Grande at 5:35 PM on Wednesday, October 16. After a longer stay near Tucson, Big Boy No. 4014 crossed from Arizona to New Mexico on Saturday, October 19. Along the way, thousands of Arizonans gathered for a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of the historical steam locomotive.
The route can be followed at https://twitter.com/UP_Steam.
About the Big Boy Steam Locomotive
The Big Boy class of steam locomotives are the heaviest single expansion steam locomotives ever built, weighing in at over one million pounds, built exclusively for Union Pacific. The locomotives are so long they are hinged in the middle to enable rounding curved tracks during travel. A total of 25 Big Boys were built, all coal burning engines. No. 4014 was built in November, 1941.
Big Boys were used extensively during WWII to haul servicemen, vital raw materials, war cargo and essential military equipment across the country.
Builder: American Locomotive Company, Schenectady, New York
Length: 133’ long
Top Speed: 70 MPH on level ground
Maximum horsepower: 6290 at 35 MPH
Fuel needed on a typical run from Ogden, Utah to Evanston, Wyoming: 35 tons of coal, 35,000 gallons of water (Today, it would take a little over an hour to drive in your car from Ogden to Evanston.)
Years in active service: 20
Miles accumulated during active service: 1,031,205
Last trip before retirement:
July 21, 1959
Only eight of the original Big Boy locomotives still exist. Union Pacific reacquired Big Boy No 4014 from the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Southern California Chapter in 2013 and began to restore it for display and operation in its Heritage Steam Locomotive fleet. As part of the restoration process, it was converted from coal to fuel oil. The restoration took over two years. At this time, No. 4014 is the world’s only operating Big Boy locomotive, returning to service in May 2019.
About the Transcontinental Railroad
The Transcontinental Railroad was built as a result of President Abraham Lincoln’s Pacific Railway Act of 1862. The Central Pacific Railroad of California was authorized to start building in Sacramento and head east. The Union Pacific Railroad Company was chartered to start building at the Missouri River and head west. Each railroad was given $48,000 in government bonds for every mile completed.
Central Pacific had to create many massive cuts and construct 15 tunnels through the Sierras dealing with winter snow and thick granite. On some days, the progress was measured in inches or feet, rather than miles. According to the Union Pacific website, Central Pacific constructed “…690 miles of track through some of the most difficult terrain ever encountered by a railroad.”
Union Pacific constructed eight bridges and four tunnels, despite battling harsh winter weather and brutal heat. All together, Union Pacific laid 1,086 miles of track between the Missouri River and Promontory Summit, Utah, where the two railroads met on May 10, 1869 and drove in a golden spike to commemorate their achievements.