Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific steam locomotives’

Union Pacific Releases ‘Big Boy” Tour Sked

August 5, 2021

Union Pacific has released a detailed schedule for the August tour of its “Big Boy” steam locomotive.

The 4014 is slated to depart its home in Cheyenne, Wyoming, today at 8 a.m. with its first stop on the tour set for Sidney, Nebraska.

The tour will continue toward Kansas City before heading south to Texas and then east to New Orleans.

From the Crescent City the “Big Boy will head north to St. Louis through Arkansas, before moving on to Denver for the Labor Day Weekend.

It will then return home to Cheyenne. The 4014 last operated in 2019. A 2020 tour was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information is available at

UP Big Boy to Hit the Road in August

June 16, 2021

Union Pacific announced this week that its “Big Boy” steam locomotive will return to the rails in early August.

No. 4014 will make a 10-state tour that will include Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.

Although the railroad has yet to release an itinerary it said display stops will include: Aug. 14 (Fort Worth, Texas); Aug. 17 (Houston); Aug. 21 (New Orleans); Aug. 29 (St. Louis); and Sept. 6 (Denver).

UP said its “Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car,” a 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 2021 tour.

The tour will begin and end at the railroad’s steam shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Quite a Surprise Awaited Ed at the End of This 1992 Steam Ride After the NRHS Convention

September 2, 2020

After participating in the 1992 National Railway Historical Society convention in San Jose, California, we rode Union Pacific 4-6-6-4 No. 3985 for two days as it returned to its home base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The Pacific Limited group and some NRHS chapters sponsored a week-long passenger carrying ferry move.

Ursula and I rode the ferry move for the first two days of the ferry move.

Day 1 (July 26, 1992) saw the train travel from Milipitas, California, over Altamont Pass to Sacramento.

There were three photo runbys staged during that trip and the first three images in this series were made during those runbys on Altamont Pass.

Each runby featured two or three passes of the train and locomotive.

Day 2 (July 27, 1992) saw the ferry move run from Sacramento to Portola, California, via the spectacular former Western Pacific line through the Feather River Canyon.

We had seats in a dome car and it felt like we were riding the original California Zephyr.

We again had three photo runbys that day, which also was our first wedding anniversary.

After detraining at Portola we rode a bus to Reno, Nevada, for an overnight stay.

At the hotel the train sponsors had something waiting for train passengers, something I never expected on any excursion.

There was a champagne reception to help us celebrate our anniversary.

This has to rate in the top three of all steam excursions I’ve ridden.

Article by Edward Ribinskas

UP Won’t Run Steam in 2020

April 30, 2020

There will be no Big Boy steam operations this year but Union Pacific has vowed to return the 4-8-8-4 steam locomotive to the rails in 2021.

UP announced on Wednesday that it was cancelling all planned steam activities this year due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing rules.

“We saw last year how much America loves the Big Boy, and what it can do as the giant, rolling ambassador of the Union Pacific,” said UP Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Scott Moore.

No schedule for operating the Big Boy this year had yet been announced but there had been speculation that it would operate in the Pacific Northwest in late summer.

The Big Boy had made its inaugural trip last year to Utah for the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike to complete the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.

The National Park Service said this week that the annual commemoration at the Golden Spike National Historical Park, set for May 10, has been cancelled because of the pandemic.

Brandon Flint, incoming superintendent of the park, said in a news release that this year’s commemoration will be held “on a more individual and personal level.”

There are videos, stories, and photos on the park website and Facebook page. However, the park, its visitor center, and its bookstore remain closed.

Highlighting 1982: Circle Trip in the Rockies

April 26, 2020

My only photos that I found from 1981 were a few so-so images of Chesapeake & Ohio No. 614 when it ran from Columbus, Ohio, to Russell, Kentucky. That trip and everything else from that year were regular movies.

So here are my favorites of 1982 which all are a circle trip with the National Railway Historical Society Convention in Colorado.

From top to bottom the photographs show the Rio Grande Zephyr in Gore Canyon on July 10.

On the Durango & Silverton on July 11 are K28 Mikado No. 473 departing and K36 Mikado No. 481’s train soon to be boarded at Durango on July 11; and K 28 Mikado No. 473 picking up an order at a McDonalds.

Shown on the Cumbres & Totec Scenic is K36 Mikado No. 487 during a lunch stop at Osier on July 13,1982; and a brakeman atop passenger-carrying converted boxcars at Cumbres Pass.

The series wraps up with Union Pacific 8444 (844) at Denver Union Station preparing for trip to LaSalle, Colorado, on July 15.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

UP Formally Retires its Challenger Steam Locomotive

February 12, 2020

One of the nation’s best known excursion steam locomotives has been retired.

An email posted on a railfan chat list from the Union Pacific Steam Club said Challenger No. 3985 broke the news.

The message indicated the move was tied to the railroad’s Unified Plan 2020, which is UP’s plan to implement the precision scheduled railroading operating model.

UP plans to retain its steam program, but said that it has “streamlined its operations in all areas, including the Union Pacific Steam and Heritage Fleet programs.”

Noting that many have asked about the future of 4-6-6-4 locomotive, UP said there are no plans to restore No. 3985.

“Many years of hard operation have resulted in the locomotive requiring a complete frame-up restoration similar to what was needed to make (Big Boy) No. 4014 operational,” UP said. “Historically, Union Pacific’s steam program has had two steam locomotives on its roster, and that count will remain the same moving forward.

The Challenger will now have been retired by UP twice. It’s original retirement occurred in 1957, but it was stored in Cheyenne, Wyoming, until 1975 when it was placed on public display near the Cheyenne passenger depot.

UP employees volunteered to restore the locomotive to running condition in 1981.

The railroad said it has not been decided where No. 3985 will be placed.

Big Boy to Continue Operating into November

September 28, 2019

Union Pacific has announced that its Big Boy 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 will operate in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming in November.

The steam locomotive is expected to arrive home in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Nov. 27 after it completes a Western and Midwestern swing that began on Friday.

This week’s announcement extends the tour of No. 4014 beyond late October.

UP Big Boy Returns to the Road Sept. 27

September 5, 2019

Union Pacific has announced that its Big Boy steam locomotive will begin a tour on Sept. 27 that will take it through Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Details about display stops during the 5,000-mile tour will be released later this month, the carrier said.

No. 4014 will leave from Cheyenne, Wyoming, on the Overland Route to Ogden, Utah, then proceed south via Las Vegas, east on the former Southern Pacific to El Paso, Texas, for an extended break that lasts through Oct. 31.

From there, the locomotive and its train will go east to Houston, north to Little Rock and Kansas City and then west to Denver on the former Kansas Pacific routes before returning home to Cheyenne sometime in November.

On Oct. 12-13 the Big Boy will pull public excursions over Cajon Pass in California.

More Big Boy Ventures Hinted at by Group

August 27, 2019

Union Pacific’s Big Boy locomotive might be slated for more travel time this fall.

The Camerail Club of Omaha, which has ties to the Union Pacific steam program, has reported that the 4-8-8-4 could be on the road from late September to mid-November.

However, the organization, which is based in Omaha, Nebraska, did not say where No. 4014 might be traveling.

UP announced some time ago that the Big Boy would pull public excursions in California on Oct. 12 and 13 and another report has suggested that it will appear in Limon, Colorado, in November.

UP has said that it will announce in early September the schedule for the Big Boy for the remainder of the year.

N&W 611 Delayed En Route to Strasburg, Hint Dropped About Another UP Big Boy Appearance in November

August 20, 2019

As it turned out Norfolk & Western 2-8-4 No. 611 did not make it to Strasburg, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday.

The Class J locomotive was tied down for the night in Shenandoah, Virginia, on Monday.

Instead, the crew will seek to make Enloa Yard near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, today, and complete its trip to the Strasburg Rail Road on Wednesday.

Trains magazine reported that a freight train that suffered a broken knuckle delayed the 611’s ferry move on Monday.

Although the 611 won’t be pulling excursions on the Strasburg until late September, it is arriving well ahead of time so that workers can conduct an annual inspection and prepare the steam engine for a full slate of events that will extend into October.

The 611 is expected to return in November to its home at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke.

In other steam news, Trains reported on Tuesday that there are hints that the Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotive will make another appearance later this year aside from the already announced excursions on Oct. 12 and 13 in California.

The magazine’s editor in chief, Jim Wrinn, wrote on the Trains website that No. 4014 may visit Limon, Colorado, in November.

Wrinn said the Limon Heritage Museum & Railroad Park issued a “save the date” notice on its Facebook page.

Limon is located on the former Kansas Pacific route from Kansas City to Denver.

UP has said it will release in early September a complete fall schedule for the Big Boy.

In yet another bit of UP steam news on Tuesday, Union Pacific will allow the public to tour the shops in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 was restored to operating condition.

The Cheyenne Depot Museum has said the tours will be offered on Aug. 30, Sept. 6 and Sept. 12.

A trolley will transport visitors to and from the shop. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased by calling 307-778-3133.