Giant steam locomotive highballing near you

Union Pacific's Big Boy 4014 is a sight to behold

By Leigh Elmore

Railroad enthusiasts in the Discover Vintage America circulation area are in for a real treat in November. The world's largest steam locomotive, Union Pacific's Big Boy No. 4014, is currently on the final legs of its third and final tour celebrating the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad's completion in 1869, giving rail fans across the Midwest an opportunity to experience history.

Side view of the Union Pacific's Big Boy 4014, the world's largest steam locomotive still in operation. The map shows the route that Big Boy is taking this fall. (photos courtesy Union Pacific)

Earlier this year, the newly restored locomotive completed a tour across the upper Midwest and a trip to Ogden, UT, for a May 9 ceremony commemorating the anniversary.

The Big Boy's return to the rails is the product of more than two years of meticulous restoration work by the Union Pacific Steam Team. No. 4014 is the world's only operating Big Boy locomotive, according to Scott Moore, senior vice president at Union Pacific.

Front view of the Union Pacific's Big Boy 4014 locomotive.

No. 4014 left the Steam Shop in Cheyenne, WY on Sept. 27 for the "Great Race Across the Southwest," making brief whistle-stops in communities along its route through Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The full schedule through Discover's readership area is listed at Here are a few stops where readers can inspect Big Boy 4014:
• Nov 15: North Little Rock, Conway, Ozark and Van Buren, AR
• Nov. 16: Gore, Claremore, Nowata, OK and Coffeyville, KS
• Nov. 17: Coffeyville, Durant, Garnett, Osawatomie, KS and Kansas City, MO
• Nov. 18: Kansas City, MO
• Nov. 19: Kansas City, MO, Lawrence and Topeka, KS
• Nov. 20: Topeka, Manhattan, Junction City, Salina, KS
• Nov. 21: Salina, Ellsworth, Russell and Hays, KS
• Nov. 22: Hays, Ellis, Quinter, Oakley and Sharon Springs, KS

Departing Sharon Springs, KS on Nov. 23 the locomotive will begin its return to Cheyenne, WY with a route through northeastern Colorado. Some of the stops are for only 15 – 30 minutes, so it's advisable to arrive at the stop early. Because of the dynamic nature of these operations, running times and scheduled stops are subject to change. The most accurate steam schedule information always will be located on the Union Pacific website. Join the Union Pacific Steam Club on the website to be notified of major schedule updates. Small schedule changes will be communicated immediately via the UP Steam Club Facebook Group.

"Weighing in at 1.2 million pounds, the Big Boy makes a big impression in communities it visits, reminding us of bygone days and the important role the railroad continues to play in our global economy," said Scott Moore, senior vice president – Corporate Relations and chief administrative officer. "Union Pacific wants to thank the countless rail fans and communities who have helped us celebrate this tremendous anniversary."

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific, the first of which was delivered in 1941 to handle the steep terrain between Cheyenne and Ogden. Of the eight still in existence, No. 4014 is the world's only operating Big Boy. In May, it completed its inaugural tour to Ogden for Union Pacific's 150th anniversary ceremony.

Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad's Completion

The Big Boy and historic steam locomotive Living Legend No. 844 met nose-to-nose, recreating the iconic image taken May 10, 1869, when the last spike was tapped into place at Promontory Summit, creating America's first transcontinental railroad.

Union Pacific strongly encourages visitors to keep safety top of mind while viewing and photographing No. 4014 on its journey. For everyone's safety:
• Remember, trains can't stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
• A train's distance and speed can be deceiving.
• The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet – take extra precaution and stand back at least 25 feet.
• Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and right of way are private property.
• Never assume tracks are abandoned or inactive – always expect a train.

'The Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car,' a new, multi-media walk-through exhibition providing a glimpse at the past while telling the story of modern-day railroading, will accompany the Big Boy on its tour. A route map and No. 4014's GPS location tracking information is available at

Key Definitions 

On Display – In addition to day-long display hours, display days include access to the Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car. Special-edition Big Boy and Golden Spike souvenirs also are available for sale from the merchandise tent. Admission to display days are free. These are the best times to see the Big Boy.

Viewing Only – Locations where fans can safely view the Big Boy. In some cases, the Big Boy will be displayed behind a fence or other perimeter. Unlike display days, the Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car will not be available for tours and merchandise will not be sold. Unless otherwise noted on the schedule, all stops are "viewing only" locations.

Passenger Excursion – While listed on the steam schedule, passenger excursion tickets are sold by outside entities -- not Union Pacific -- and are not available on the day of the excursion.
No Public Access – Locations where the public is not allowed to view the Big Boy because of safety or security reasons. This usually means the locomotive will be stored within a rail yard or other Union Pacific property where live rail operations are being conducted. Non-employees who access these locations without permission will be treated as trespassers. 

About Union Pacific

Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP). One of America's most recognized companies, Union Pacific Railroad connects 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country by rail, providing a critical link in the global supply chain. The railroad's diversified business mix is classified into its Agricultural Products, Energy, Industrial and Premium business groups.

Union Pacific serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers, operates from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways, connects with Canada's rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major Mexico gateways. Union Pacific provides value to its roughly 10,000 customers by delivering products in a safe, reliable, fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible manner.

Leigh Elmore can be contacted at