Crowd estimates for Big Boy 4014: 1.1 million plus

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4014atWestChicago
UP 4014 on display in West Chicago in July.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
OMAHA, Neb. — How many people saw Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 run in 2019?

That is a question whose answer we’ll never know with full certainty, but estimates are coming in.

UP says it counted 115,000 visitors who went through its Experience the Union Pacific exhibit car during layovers on the three tours that began May 4 and ended Nov. 26. The company places the overall size of the spectators at 1.1 million people.

Meanwhile, a railfan club with close ties to the UP steam program has a more optimistic view of how many people witnessed Big Boy No. 4014 on its multiple tours in 2019. The Camerail Club in its monthly Mixed Train newsletter also says the huge public relations bonanza of the steam train means that No. 4014 will operate next summer.

“The bottom line is that the tour was just one grand success by any measure of standards that can be applied,” the newsletter says. “In view of the overwhelming successful tour, the Union Pacific will operate another for next summer. The route and details are yet to be worked out, but as they say in TV land, ‘stay tuned.’” UP spokeswoman Kristen South told Trains the company has no details on possible 2020 operations. But some sources say Pacific Northwest, California, or St. Louis tours may be possible.

The Camerail Club, which supplied staff for the “Experience the Union Pacific” exhibit car, says 112,500 people went through the car, or about one-third of the people who visited the locomotive and train. The club went on to say that number is a quarter to an eighth of the people who witnessed No. 4014’s operations from May through November. Using that as a guide, they estimated spectators at 1.35 million to 2.7 million.

UP restored No. 4014 to operation this year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad. It is the first time a Big Boy locomotive has operated in 60 years. Trains covered the restoration in its special issue, Big Boy Back in Steam, and the corresponding video documentary of the same name. A second video, Big Boy on Tour, 2019 Part II, 4014 in the Midwest, Southwest, and South, will be available in January. The fall tour is covered in the January issue of Trains, available now, and in the February issue, available shortly after the new year. All are for sale at www.kalmbachhobbystore.com





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