Part 17: Big Boy Departs Laramie


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The Trip

When we spotted Big Boy in Laramie, we really, really wanted to see it under its own power.  Our visit the prior day was rewarded with nice views of a stationary locomotive in shutdown.  After some extended discussions, we decided that staying close to the track was the best way to insure that we got a good view of the train leaving Laramie.  Indeed, it was an excellent decision.  The night was cold and windy, but the new camper made the stay comfortable and warm.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Kathleen and I had not decided whether we would chase Big Boy after he left Laramie.  So, we set our alarms for "early" and insured that Thor was ready to roll with no delay.  When I got outside for the first time, I could see the steam clouds coming from Big Boy.  We knew from conversations with other people that the crew was in the cab 2 hours before the scheduled 0800 departure.  They were not idle, but rather brought the boilers up to operating temperature.  The steam clouds rose in the frigid morning air.

Starting Thor was a smoky challenge.  Nothing like a "high, cold" start to create huge clouds of acrid smoke.  After the motor warmed up a bit, we moved Thor from our sleeping spot to a place close to the embankment and ready for a hasty exit chasing the train.  Our plan was simple: climb the embankment of the overpass and get an unobstructed view of Big Boy's passage.  From higher up we could see the individual steam plumes from 4014 and 844.

We waited about 10 minutes and then 4014's light came on and huge clouds of steam were released.

As the engineer engaged the throttle, clouds of black smoke rose from the engine.  4014 was on track 3, but needed to get to track 1.

The clouds of steam obscured everything as 4014 transitions from track 3 to track 2.  Big Boy is so long that the front boiler is articulated to handle tighter radius turns.

Big Boy was rolling very slowly as it worked it's way from track 3 to track 2.

Now taking the transition from track 2 to track 1.

A spectacular display of raw power as jets of steam are vented.

4014 has transitioned to track 1 but the trailing cars are on other tracks, so progress was slow.  The spectators were engulfed with steam as the engine slowly passed by.

It is not clear whether the spectators knew what they were going to experience by standing so close.

4014 was approaching our position, so I had to widen the lens to get the loco and tender in the same shot.

A slightly wider view of the train.

The first locomotive started going underneath the freeway, we would lose our view soon.

This would be our last view of 4014.

Behind 4014 was 844 another steam engine with tender.

2650 was along in case of mechanical failures.

The baggage car door was open with a worker peering out at us.

The dome car was filled with folks waving at me because I was pointing a lens in their direction.

When the cars in the train were prepared for this trip, the undercarriages were cleaned and painted silver.

Staying the night at trackside was definitely the right idea and put us in a great location with minimum hassle.  The embankment provided a great, unobstructed view of the train.  All in all, a great experience.

We ate at at a cafe next to the tracks and had an awesome breakfast.  From Laramie, we headed north on the asphalt toward Casper, WY.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2018, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.