One of the largest steam locomotives ever built is scheduled to make a rare, brief stop in Stockton this Friday.
The Big Boy No. 4014 was one of 25 large steam engines built exclusively for the Union Pacific Railroad in 1941, according to an informational fact sheet from the Union Pacific Railroad. The engine was retired in 1961 and eventually donated for public display in Pomona, CA.
The Big Boy 4014 is scheduled for a makeover in Cheyenne, Wyoming this year. While making the journey from California, the engine will stop at several towns and cities along the Union Pacific line, including Stockton.
According to the engine’s official Union Pacific schedule, the Big Boy 4014 will stop at Silver Ave. in Stockton for about 15 minutes this Friday afternoon. While there, the engine will give a whistle demonstration while undergoing some brief maintenance.
“It has a deep, throaty sound that will make your chest vibrate,” said Rand Johnson, a Tooele resident and train enthusiast who said he has made a daily habit of tracking the 4014’s progress toward Utah.
Johnson, whose grandfather once worked for Union Pacific, said he viewed the event as a local opportunity to relive history.
“Steam engines represent a heritage,” he said. “The technology is no longer used, but it’s still kind of romantic.”
The Big Boy engines are each 132 feet long and weigh about 1.2 million pounds, according to the Union Pacific. The engines were so long that the frame had to be built with articulated “hinges” to allow the locomotive to travel on curved tracks. In the 1940s and 1950s, the engines typically operated between Cheyenne, WY and Ogden, UT.
The Big Boy 4014 is currently inoperable and will be towed to Cheyenne by two modern diesel engines. However, the steam engine will be visible from Stockton from 4:45 p.m. – 5 p.m. this Friday. The engine will also be on display in Salt Lake City, at 1020 Warm Springs Road, all day Saturday.
Once it arrives in Cheyenne, the engine will undergo a restoration process prior to returning to service for various Union Pacific Goodwill tours. The restoration is expected to take at least five years, so Johnson said that he suspected this will be the one foreseeable opportunity for locals to catch a glimpse of the historic engine.
Because the engine’s travel schedule is subject to change, interested residents can track the train’s location and progress live online at up.com/aboutup/special_trains/steam/trace.cfm. The UP Steam twitter account (@UP_Steam) is also live-tweeting the Big Boy 4014’s progress toward Cheyenne.