Where to find Big Boy locomotives

Look for these legendary locomotives from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, and, of course, Wyoming
With clouds overhead mimicking steam, Big Boy No. 4004 sleeps in October 2013 at Cheyenne’s Holliday Park, just a few blocks from UP rails.
Jim Wrinn
No. 4004 • Holliday Park, Cheyenne, Wyo.

BUILDER’S DATE: September 1941
HISTORY: The fifth Big Boy constructed seems to have had an uneventful career.
DATE RETIRED: February 1962
PRESERVATION: According to Bess Arnold’s 2004 book, “Union Pacific: Saving a Big Boy and other railroad stories,” the 4004’s salvation is the direct result of a retirees group that recognized how quickly the railroad was disposing of its steam power. The group reached out to UP Vice President-Operations E.H. Bailey about saving a Big Boy. Bailey concurred, and brakeman Fred Mueller, Dr. Ralph Gramlich, and retired machinist Frank Hardy went to the mayor’s office in Cheyenne, Wyo., where they got approval to preserve an engine. The UP Old Timers Club sold raffle tickets and collected more than $2,000 to build a concrete pad for the locomotive in what was once Holliday Park’s Lake Minnehaha. A diesel switcher moved the locomotive across 600 feet of panel track on June 28, 1963. As an extra precaution, a city truck followed to feed air to the locomotive’s brake system in case it broke free from the diesel, and a crawler tractor was tethered to the 4004 as a further safeguard to prevent it from rolling free. The locomotive was flooded in 1986 when heavy rains caused ponding in the park and enough water accumulated to almost cover the 68-inch drivers. Small parts have been removed for use on UP’s active steam engines.
Tucked inside the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver, No. 4005 tells the Big Boy story up close.
Jim Wrinn
No. 4005 • Forney Museum of Transportation, Denver

BUILDER’S DATE: September 1941
HISTORY: Of all the preserved Big Boys, No. 4005 has more of a story than the others. No. 4005 was the only Big Boy converted to burn oil as an experiment in 1946, during a miner’s strike. The locomotive operated in this fashion through March 1948, but the test was deemed unsuccessful and the engine was reconfigured to burn coal, which it did for the rest of its operating life. The locomotive was involved in a fatal derailment on April 27, 1953, on a run from Rawlins, Wyo., to Green River, Wyo. It was pulling 62 cars and a caboose when it entered an open siding switch at Red Desert and derailed at 50 mph. The locomotive and tender came to rest on their left sides and the first 18 cars piled up in the crash, which killed the engineer, fireman, and head-end brakeman. No. 4005 was repaired at Cheyenne and returned to service, still bearing scars of the accident on the left side.
PRESERVATION: Donated to the museum in downtown Denver in 1970. The museum
was relocated to its present location in 1998 and reopened in 2001.
January 2014 images of No. 4006 show the significant work that took place to restore this
mammoth locomotive to the appearance of an operating Big Boy.
Mark Mautner
No. 4006 • Museum of Transportation, St. Louis

BUILDER’S DATE: September 1941
LIFETIME MILEAGE: 1,064,625. This was
the highest-mileage Big Boy of the 25
locomotives in this class.Tender from No. 4003.
PRESERVATION: Negotiations to save a Big Boy for the Museum of Transport (as it was known then) began in 1954, long before the 4-8-8-4s were withdrawn from service. UP formally donated the locomotive to the museum in June 1961, moving it to Kansas City, Mo., in a journey that took four days at a top speed of 25 mph. In Kansas City, Missouri Pacific took over for the rest of the trip, but instead of going straight to the museum, the engine went to the Alton & Southern shop in East St. Louis for cosmetic work that took about a year. During its delivery to the museum, the locomotive encountered one of the best-known steam locomotives in American history, the American-type General of Civil War “Great Locomotive Chase” fame. The meeting took place when No. 4006 left the Alton & Southern yard in East St. Louis on June 5, 1962. With two diesels pulling it, No. 4006 rolled across the MacArthur Bridge over the Mississippi River. The General was in St. Louis on the first leg of a Civil War centennial tour. Said the Museum of Transport in an announcement, “One hundred years of steam locomotive development were embraced in the encounter between the 600-ton articulated giant built in 1941 and the 31-ton 4-4-0 constructed in 1855.”
No. 4012 stands near the entrance of the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pa., where Delaware, Lackawanna & Western 4-8-4s once held sway.
Jim Wrinn
No. 4012 • Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, Pa.

BUILDER’S DATE: November 1941
MILEAGE: 1,029,507
DATE RETIRED: February 1962
PRESERVATION: No. 4012’s 1964 trip from the UP yard at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Bellows Falls, Vt., to become the largest and most impressive piece in Nelson Blount’s extensive Steamtown U.S.A. collection, was not without excitement. First off, according to James R. Adair’s 1967 book, “The Man from Steamtown,” it cost Blount $6,000 just to ship the locomotive dead-in-tow. Then, the centipede tender derailed three wheels at Manchester, N.Y., causing much consternation among the crews who had to rerail the giant tank.
This view of No. 4014, made on the first day of moving out of the RailGiants Museum, highlights the multiple rows of flexible staybolts arrayed along the top of the firebox to allow for expansion of the crownsheet. Also note the brakewheel-like ashpan and grate dumps for easy cleaning.
Jim Wrinn
No. 4014 • On the road to restoration in Cheyenne, Wyo.

BUILDER’S DATE: November 1941
DATE RETIRED: December 1961
PRESERVATION: The amazing tale of how No. 4014 came to be the chosen one has to include the heroic efforts of members of the Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, notable among them, Paul Guercio. Chapter volunteers removed firebrick, cleaned out the ash and cinders from the smokebox and firebox, then needle-scaled both to remove rust and scale, cleaned and painted the gauges, repaired the firedoor, and rewired the engine for lights. They also scooped out sand from the domes, made a sheet metal cover for the whistle well to keep rainwater from entering the smokebox, installed the pistons in the cylinders, and painted and lettered the engine. They kept the engine oiled and greased. They even set it up so that compressed air could power the bell and blow the whistle. These tasks, and many more, kept No. 4014 in good shape and helped make it the prime candidate for restoration to operation when the Union Pacific came calling. To all of them, we say, thank you!
No. 4017 resides indoors inside the National Railroad Museum’s Lenfestey Center alongside a famous Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric locomotive. No. 4017 is one of the most complete Big Boys on display
Brian Schmidt
No. 4017 • National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, Wis.

BUILDER’S DATE: December 1941
PRESERVATION: Letters flew in 1960 and 1961 between the museum’s Harold Fuller and UP leadership, including Vice President-Operations E.H. Bailey, President A.E. Stoddard, and board Chairman E. Roland Harriman. The letters introduced the young museum and laid the groundwork for the Big Boy donation. Once accomplished, the next issue was getting it from Cheyenne to Green Bay. The Chicago & North Western was set to take No. 4017 across Iowa, Illinois, and into Wisconsin. At the last minute, the Milwaukee Road stepped in and asked for the honor of moving the engine. The Milwaukee Road did so, but couldn’t claim all the glory: The Milwaukee Road still had to hand No. 4017 over to the C&NW for final delivery.
Complete, save for the main rods, No. 4018 looks good in the Texas sun prior to its trip from the Dallas fairgrounds to its new, permanent home in Frisco.
John Hewitt
No. 4018 • Museum of the American Railroad, Frisco, Texas

BUILDER’S DATE: December 1941
HISTORY: No. 4018 was shopped at Cheyenne in April 1957 and ran the following September. This was short-lived, and it was stored at Green River by October, never to run again.
PRESERVATION: The locomotive arrived at the Age of Steam museum at the Texas State Fair in Dallas in 1964. In 1998 the museum was approached with plans to restore 4018 to operation for a movie. This plan never materialized.
From its perch on a hillside in Lauritzen Gardens, No. 4023 overlooks the Missouri River and Iowa to the east as well as Union Pacific’s Omaha yard and Interstate 80 just below.
Cate Kratville
No. 4023 • Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, Neb.

BUILDER’S DATE: November 1944
HISTORY: One of five Big Boy locomotives
built to supplement the original 20.
PRESERVATION: Big Boy No. 4023 was kept inside the roundhouse at Cheyenne, Wyo., (with Challenger No. 3985) until the mid-1970s when it was relocated to Omaha and placed adjacent to the UP shops there. A steam exhaust line was fashioned so that it appeared that smoke and steam were coming from the twin stacks. After the shops closed, the engine was relocated to the Durham Western History Museum in downtown Omaha and repositioned in 2004 to its current location at Kenefick Park in Lauritzen Gardens. This move required a trip over city streets in a special cradle designed to spread the weight of the locomotive. Wasatch Railroad Contractors performed a complete cosmetic restoration of the steam locomotive during the five months following the move. In addition to a new jacket, many functional appliances were replaced with new, mock appliances. This included the safety valves, whistle, and lubricators.
This story originally appeared in the 2014 Big Boy special issue of Trains Magazine.
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