The Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 is one of the largest steam engines in the world, and she is embarking on a journey from Fairplex, CA to Cheyenne, WY.
In order to accomplish this, a railroad is literally being built into the L.A. County Fairgrounds, connecting Big Boy from her home at the Rail Giants Train Museum to the Metrolink station on Arrow Highway. This is the first time Big Boy has moved in 51 years. Union Pacific crew members have spent the last 2.5 months cleaning and tending the engine in preparation for her big move. That’s no easy feat; the locomotive will weigh 605 tons by her departure.
“We are making sure this track is meticulously built,” said Ed Dickens, head of the big train endeavor. [Big Boy] is our baby. We’re taking good care of her.”
The railroad track will run approximately a mile in length. Big Boy will travel to Colton, CA for a brief period of restoration before continuing on the 1,300-mile trek across the Pacific trans-continental railroad to Wyoming. Once in Wyoming, she will undergo restoration and repair by the Union Pacific’s Heritage Fleet Operations team.
Big Boy’s active years date back to World War II, when she spent most of her days pulling mile-long freight trains as part of the transcontinental railroad. “It opens the imagination,” Ed said. “It’s a living piece of history.” Just looking at the enormous piece of machinery invites you into the past.
Big Boy is one of the toughest pieces of machinery in the world. If it were to be taken apart, the metal could build hundreds of thousands of cars. Once she is up and running, she can go as fast as 70 mph.
We hope to welcome Big Boy back to Fairplex at some point in the next few years. Until then, we wish this beautiful engine a wonderful time of restoration and recovery. We can’t wait to see what she looks like in nine years!