good to get rolling again. We had been shop-bound for a
bit over 4 weeks, so feeling the sway of the road was
nice. Our new (to us) air-ride seats performed as expected
and we were pleased. From La Junta we headed to Pueblo, CO
and then north past Colorado Springs to Black Forest to see my niece
and husband Becky and Peter. We spent a few days in Black
Forest and then headed north to see the Union Pacific steam
locomotive X4014 AKA "Big Boy" in Cheyenne, WY. We saw Big
Boy in Colton, CA when it was being prepared to be towed to
Cheyenne for a 5-year restoration. Five years passed in a
flash and now 4014 is functional and returning from Ogden, UT
from the 150th anniversary of the completion of the
photos below are what we saw.
and Peter's place in Black Forest has a spectacular view of
Pike's Peak when the weather is clear.
few days visiting, we headed north through Denver to Loveland,
CO. We spent the night there, took in a movie and some
sushi. The following morning we continued north and
outside of Fort Collins we spotted this firefighting helicopter
doing practice with a dipper basket.
chopper made several passes as we rolled past. The water
was on a long cable dangling far below the chopper.
rolled into Cheyenne for lunch and to do some intelligence
gathering on 4014's schedule. The UP posted the "official"
schedule online, but the return to Cheyenne was not planned to
be an official event. After we parked on a side street, we
hit the bricks to find some lunch. We spotted this nice
at the Albany restaurant next to the Cheyenne UP depot.
The depot was very well preserved and housed a museum and
visitor center. We spoke with the visitor center personnel
and concluded that there were multiple paths that the train
might take so we decided to do some field recon to find the best
decided that the best way to insure that we would see 4014 was
to travel to Laramie, about 45 minutes west. The train was
in Laramie being serviced before departing at 0800 the following
morning. While we could not approach the train because it
was in a restricted area, we could still take photos from a
distance. At the park next to the Laramie depot we spotted
had constructed a pedestrian bridge to allow foot traffic to
cross over the tracks. From the bridge we got our first
view of the train.
full zoom on my lens and a tight crop we were able to see the
crews attending to the train. UP decommissioned track-side
water towers years ago so water trucks were needed to fill Big
Boy's water reservoirs at every stop. Later in the day we
decided that the only sure viewing point for Big Boy was next to
the freeway overpass, so that is where we decided to camp for
was refurbished as part of the UP's "heritage program".
Along the way, they also refurbished some coach and sleeper
cars. These were the gold-standard of travel before
airplanes. As part of the trip to Ogden for the Golden
Spike ceremony UP offered tickets for travel on the train.
Your choices were the cheap seats at $3,000 or the better seats
at $5,000. Ouch. A once-in-a-lifetime trip, but
dome car was part of the entourage.
bridge we could see some rolling stock currently at rest.
And, some fine abodes on the wrong-side-of-the-tracks.
the bridge and walked past the park to a fenced-off area.
We could see Big Boy, but had to shoot over the chain link fence
to get an unobstructed shot. This guy is huge, about a
million pounds of steel and steam. The crews were busy
checking the mechanical systems and filling the various fluid
was a whole team in the cab. Below the road number is the
wheel designation of the machine: 4-8-8-4
tender has 7 axles to support the weight of the fuel oil and
water used to drive the train.
is so long that I had to get quite a distance away to get the
engine and tender in one photo.
all those moving parts and linkages! Note the chain
connecting one of the linkages with an automatic oiler.
These engines are very complex, very high maintenance and it is
no surprise that the railroads migrated to diesel electric
locomotives at the earliest opportunity.
look this is an "oh shit" party, but it turns out that it was
just a simple inspection.
with 4014 is 844, also a steamer. This unit is a 4-8-4
its own tender for oil and water.
along for the ride "just in case" of a mechanical failure on the
steam engines. This is an active-duty motor and very
the mail rail line was a small outdoor exhibit with another
steam locomotive and a push plow for snow. This must have
been a ugly assignment for the engineer as the cut of the plow
would surely direct a fire hose of snow right at the operator's
steam engines are a tinker's delight with plenty of linkages.
stopped for coffee and considered our viewing
alternatives. In the end we both concluded that being
close to the departure point was the only way to insure that we
could see Big Boy in motion. We traveled down the railroad
service road and found an open area that was flat and set up for
the night. Our plan was to ascend the flanks of the
freeway overpass for a better view.
|Trip Home Page|
Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2019, all rights
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.