By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Southeast Texans had a chance to see a piece of railroad history last week as the Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 steam locomotive made its way through the area on a cross-country journey that will end in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Nov. 27.
Along the 12-state path, Union Pacific held public viewings in dozens of cities, including Houston, Spring and Navasota on Friday, Nov. 8. Hundreds of people braved the rainy weather on Friday at the Ellis Street railroad crossing in Spring to await the train’s arrival.
Among those anxiously waiting to see the train was Dennis Rothacker, a Houston-area photographer. For Rothacker, it was a reunion of sorts as he first saw the locomotive 15 years ago at the Pomona Fairgrounds outside of Los Angeles, Calif.
“I was in Pomona for drag races. The drag strip and the railroad museum are on the same grounds. The Big Boy was on display with a couple more steam engines. I still have photos I took from inside the train,” Rothacker said. “I never thought that I would see it again, so this has been wonderful.”
The Big Boy 4014 is one of 25 steam locomotives that were commissioned exclusively for Union Pacific. The first of the locomotives was delivered in 1941. Measuring 132 feet long and weighing 1.2 million pounds, Big Boy 4014 was retired in December 1961 with 1,031,205 miles of service, according to Union Pacific’s history.
The locomotive was moved to Wyoming in 2013 to undergo a restoration in anticipation of Union Pacific’s 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s completion.
To see a Bluebonnet News video of Big Boy 4014 as it rolls out of Spring, click here: