An imposing piece of railroad history has returned to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Union Pacific’s No. 4014 ‘Big Boy’ completed the more than 1,000 mile trip from Colton, California to Cheyenne. It will now undergo an extensive renovation to restore it to full steam powered service.
Just 100 feet shorter then a Boeing 747, the massive steam engine rolled into town to the fanfare of thousands lining the tracks as it was pulled into Cheyenne by a modern bright yellow and red Union Pacific diesel engine.
Bill Nation of Cheyenne was beaming as the 4014 pulled into the Union Pacific Depot. 51 years ago, he was the leading architect in bringing the city's first Big Boy, No. 4004, to the city in 1963. That one currently sits in Cheyenne’s Holliday Park.
“Now we have this one, what a thrill on top of it. And to see all these people who are such railroad fans. We in Cheyenne, we’re great railroad people,” Nation said.
25 Big Boys were built by the Union Pacific Railroad. The 4014 entered service in December 1941 and was in use for 20 years. It was retired in 1961.
Following decommission, the 4014 was on display in California. It joined it's other brothers on display at varies museums across the country including Green Bay, Wisconsin, Pomona, California and in Denver at the Forney Museum of Transportation. California's climate was a key reason the 4014 was chosen for extensive restoration.
Cheyenne resident Kim Coalver and her 3-year-old son Daniel peered through a chain link fence watching crews from the Union Pacific Steam Program inspect the engine after its journey from Laramie.
“My older sons they’re nine and I just have always loved trains. And we’ve always kept track of whenever old steamers come to town, so I thought I’d bring him down today to share in the experience,” Coalver said.
Cheyenne Mayor Richard Kaysen presided over the welcoming festivities. He noted that it’s been 73 years since the 4014 has been based in the city.
“On behalf of all of Cheyenne, and if I may, the Wyoming citizens; we are most, most grateful to Union Pacific for making this such a momentous day and bringing Big Boy 4014 home,” Kaysen said.
Standing to the side of the presentation inside the historic Cheyenne depot, Bill Nation said he remembers coming to tracks when he was younger.
“When you grow up with the Union Pacific, we used to come down and like to listen to the train masters say ‘leaving 15 minutes all points west’ and he’d announce all the stops it'd make,” Nation said. “We’d all get a real kick out of that.”
Once the 4014 is fully restored, it will begin a nationwide tour as part of Union Pacific’s steam program. It will join other antique steam engines including the No. 844 which carries The Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days train from Denver to the rodeo each year.