Big Boy finds its footing as trip west continues

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BigBig_0505_PointOfRocks_Wrinn
UP 4014 and 844 round the curve at Point of Rocks, Wyo., on the afternoon of May 5.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn
BigBoy_0505_RockSprings
Nos. 844 and 4014 tie down to a hero's welcome in Rock Springs, Wyo., Sunday afternoon. The steam doubleheader continues to draw huge crowds along its route.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn
ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. – Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 strode across southern Wyoming Saturday with a bit more confidence Sunday, the second day of its journey to Ogden, Utah, and the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike. The crew opened up the engine a bit more as it surpassed the 300-mile mark with no significant troubles.

The locomotive, whose restoration only concluded in time for a test run on Thursday, turned in a remarkable performance, cruising along at 35 mph for long periods of time Sunday, with a diesel in full dynamic braking, 4-8-4 No. 844, and nine passenger cars on the drawbar. The 7,000-hp steam locomotive didn’t even notice.

Once again, thousands turned out to view the engine, whether it was children on their way to Sunday school or travelers from across the continent and around the globe to witness the first Big Boy locomotive in steam and on the main line in 60 years. “It wasn’t supposed to happen,” said one fan. “We never thought we’d see this day.”

The locomotive arrived in Rock Springs to a hero’s welcome. It will spend the night here. On Monday, the special is scheduled to leave at 4 a.m. to get around a maintenance-of-way work window. It is scheduled to arrive in Evanston, Wyo., at 8:45 a.m. — although the first two days have slid well off the schedule — and will lay over in Evanston on Tuesday before making a triumphant entrance into Ogden, Utah, on Wednesday via spectacular Echo and Weber Canyons.

Trains will live stream the westward journey, and is collecting material for a special issue, Big Boy Back in Steam, and a special 2-hour DVD, both available from Kalmbach Hobby Store online. Our live streaming is sponsored by Nevada Northern Railway and RailfanDepot.com.
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