Big Boy commands attention, but shares right-of-way

UP freight traffic means 4-8-8-4's train generally strays from planned schedule
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Nos. 4014 and 844 pass a stopped westbound freight near Hanna, Wyo. The steam train was following two eastbounds through an area of track work, and the westbound was waiting its turn.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn

LARAMIE, Wyo. – No matter how big you may be, you still have to share the railroad.

That’s the lesson after Big Boy No. 4014 pulled into town on the last lap of its homeward journey Friday some 2½ hours late. Despite leaving Rawlins, Wyo., on time, and perhaps a few minutes early, the train soon bogged down a few miles later at Benton, Wyo., just east of Sinclair. The culprit? Not the locomotive. It was track work and a whole mess of merchandise and intermodal trains zipping their way across the heart of the UP system. No. 4014 and train even posted to Facebook about a delay of up to 90 minutes.

Track work and heavy volume of traffic has been a familiar theme in the two weeks the locomotive has been on tour between its home base in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Ogden, Utah, where it and 4-8-4 No. 844 participated in celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike. On Thursday, the pair and their 12-car train sat in the middle passing siding at Wamsutter, Wyo., while fleets and east- and westbound freight trains zoomed by. And on the westbound journey, there was a 4 a.m. departure from Rock Springs, Wyo., to get through a work window.  

Nos. 4014 and 844 are in Laramie Saturday but not on public display. On Sunday, the two complete their journey with the final Laramie-Cheyenne leg starting at 8 a.m., and scheduled to arrive in Cheyenne at 11:05 a.m. That train, no matter what time it arrives, will conclude the epic inaugural trip of No. 4014.

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