A massive steam locomotive known as Big Boy will roll out of Pomona’s Fairplex on Sunday morning on its way to restoration at Union Pacific’s rail yard in Cheyenne, Wyo., and its eventual return to rail tracks across America.
Union Pacific crews will sever the Metrolink tracks shortly after midnight near the Fairplex Metrolink station and push the 600-ton locomotive on the main line, where it will be towed by modern diesel freight locomotives 56 miles to Colton as it is readied for its trip to Wyoming.
Track crews will work under floodlights to restore the mainline to service before dawn, officials said.
Big Boy, also known as engine No. 4014, will be on public view at Union Pacific’s Colton yard from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 1-2 and Feb. 8-9, said Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt. Visitors should enter the rail yard at 19100 Slover Ave. in Bloomington.
“Visitors will be permitted in the display area for No. 4014 only. There will be no other rail yard access,” he said.
Big Boy was one of 25 huge steam locomotives used on transcontinental tracks starting in 1941. No. 4014 was primarily used pulling heavy freight trains over the Wasatch Mountains between Ogden, Utah and Green River, Wyo. It was retired after a 17-year operating career and donated to the RailGiants Train Museum at the Fairplex in early 1962. It’s been parked there ever since.
Union Pacific has declined to say how much it will spend restoring No. 4014. After about five years in the Cheyenne shop, the steam engine will begin traveling the country on Union Pacific’s 35,000 miles of tracks, which connect about 7,000 cities.
“It’s been sitting here in sort of a railroad Jurassic Park,” Ed Dickens, senior manager of Union Pacific’s Heritage operations, told The Times in November. “We’re going to bring T. rex back to life.”
Since November, the locomotive has been slowly moved across Fairplex grounds on 4,500 feet of temporary track.
In exchange for getting No. 4014 back, Union Pacific plans to deliver diesel locomotive No. 3105, a caboose and a box car to the RailGiants museum, company officials said.