After several days of cooking for a large Thanksgiving meal and gathering– poof! It was all over! And yes, we were able to eat outdoors. Warm and dry, we gathered under the tent, and spent several hours leisurely visiting and sharing family time.
As host, I was running a little too quickly to also function as house photographer. As well, my family is primarily camera-shy when it comes to sharing our experiences more publicly. So I can only give you a little glimpse of how we assembled, but you’ll at least be able to see that we enjoyed the nice warm sunshine.
We extended our outdoor time into the evening around a blazing wood fire. And then do you know what happened? It rained the next day! It was the best of all possible situations.
As busy as we were in the days leading up to the “main event,” we were also closely following a local news story about one of the 25 Big Boy locomotives built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad in the 1940s.
We are a railroad family. Jay hired out with Southern Pacific Railroad in 1973…40 years later, he continues his career as a switchman for the Union Pacific Railroad.
The Big Boys, with a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, were the largest steam locomotives ever built. Numbers 4000 through 4019 were built in 1941 and five more were added in 1944.
No. 4014, the heaviest single-expansion steam locomotive ever built, was retired in December 1961 and donated by Union Pacific to the Southern California Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, and has been inside the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds since 1962.
There is a great deal of local excitement as Big Boy No. 4014 is once again on the move. Union Pacific reacquired it and is in the process of a massive restoration project with the goal of moving the engine to Cheyenne, Wyoming for use in its Heritage Steam Locomotive fleet.
Restoration includes a nearly complete disassembly, an inspection of parts and then re-assembly with restored and repaired replacement parts, including the conversion of fuels from coal to No. 5 fuel oil.
To understand a little bit about how this wonderful old engine is being moved to its final destination, click HERE, and be sure to watch the very brief video. The overall plan is very impressive.
We watched some of the track being placed in front of No. 4014, a tedious job reminding me of child’s play. A few feet of track…move the engine…place more track…move the engine and pull up the track that’s left behind…this is a BIG job for a BIG engine.
Eight of the original 25 Big Boys still exist. The dry Southern California climate has served to preserve the No. 4014. It is in very good condition.
Rail Buffs might be interested in a few specifications of Union Pacific No. 4014.
- Total Weight: 600 tons
- Length: 132 ft. 9.875 in.
- Fuel: Soft Coal
- Coal Capacity: 28 tons
- Water Capacity: 24,000 gallons
- Steam Pressure: 300 psi
- Top Speed: 70 MPH
- Builder: American Locomotive Company, Schenectady, New York
It’s an impressive part of American Railway history.
You should see all the “little boys” with their noses right up against the chain-link fence just hoping to catch the moment when “Big Boy” No. 4014 makes a move. I think it’s a little sad it will be leaving us, but the idea that one of these powerful engines will be on the move for the first time in 50 years is really quite exciting, don’t you think?
- A railroad dinosaur is coming back to life (latimes.com)