‘Big Boy,’ largest operating steam train, scheduled to roll through Colorado this fall

Jun 20, 2024, 4:12 PM

The world’s largest operating steam locomotive, Union Pacific’s ‘Big Boy’ No. 4014, will grace Coloradans with its presence this fall in its second tour of the year as it passes through the state. The last time the train saw the Mile High City’s skyline was during a visit in 2022.

The tour, dubbed the “Heartland of America Tour,” will commence on August 29 in the train’s home base of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and will make its trek to nine states throughout: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Omaha and Texas. The tour will wrap up in late October. Unlike in previous years, the train will not stop for public display in the state, but Denverites can still view a Big Boy up close, as No. 4005 has its home in the Forney Museum of Transportation.

The journey will include whistle stops in Rochelle, Illinois; Houston and Ft. Worth, Texas.

This won’t be Big Boy’s first road trip of the year. The locomotive will have already ventured to the west in its “Westward Bound Tour,” during June and July, where it is scheduled to visit Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California and Idaho.

During World War II, 25 of its kind were manufactured, although only eight survived. Clocking in at 1.1 million pounds and measuring almost half of the length of a football field, the steam-powered locomotives were specifically designed to haul heavy freight through mountainous regions. While in operation, Big Boys typically stayed between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Although the other seven are on public display throughout the country, No. 4014 is the only still in operation. The other seven can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Big Boy no. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December of 1941, and, after putting in 1,031,205 miles, retired in 1961 after 20 years of service. It was in the RailGiants museum in Pomona, California, when Union Pacific once again took possession in 2013. The train was moved to Cheyenne, where it underwent a restoration process and was able to operate once again to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s completion in May of 2019.

Specifics on the tour, including route and time, will be released by Union Pacific as the tour draws closer. Big Boy’s whereabouts will be tracked here.

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‘Big Boy,’ largest operating steam train, scheduled to roll through Colorado this fall