It has been called the last of the giant freight locomotives, a lumbering behemoth known as the “Big Boy 4014.” For half a century it has been on display at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, drawing railroad buffs from around the nation.
Now the mammoth steam engine is about to take another trip -- to the vast plains of rural Wyoming.
Union Pacific Railroad officials recently announced that the company has reached an agreement to acquire the locomotive from the RailGiants Train Museum at the fairgrounds. The railroad said it plans to move the engine to maintenance shops in Cheyenne, where crews will try to get it back to running condition.
“We’re really excited about the acquisition of the 2014 Big Boy,” railroad spokesman Aaron Hunt told the Los Angeles Times, adding that Union Pacific will post updates about the move, planned for the near future. Updates will be posted on Twitter @RailGiants.
Hunt said the Cheyenne maintenance shops also maintain other operating steam locomotives, but the Big Boy restoration promises to be an enormous undertaking for the company’s Heritage Fleet Operations Team, given the locomotive's age and complexity.
Twenty-five of the massive and powerful engines were built in the 1940s to haul heavy Union Pacific freight trains over Wyoming and Utah mountains. The last was retired in 1962.
Union Pacific donated No. 4014 in 1961 the RailGiants Train Museum. A year later the locomotive arrived in Pomona, according to a company news release.
"Our steam locomotive program is a source of great pride to Union Pacific employees past and present," Ed Dickens, senior manager of Union Pacific Heritage Operations, said in the release. "We are very excited about the opportunity to bring history to life by restoring No. 4014."
The Pomona railroad museum said the locomotive would remain there through the end of the Los Angeles County Fair in September.
“Our board of directors decided to return the locomotive to Union Pacific for restoration and operation because it will be the best way to preserve this locomotive for future generations of rail fans and students of railroad history,” the museum said.
Built in 1941, the Big Boy No. 4014 logged 1,031,205 miles hauling freight until its retirement on July 21, 1959.
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