Big Boy 4014: Waiting on a schedule

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

So, you and the rest of Train World are waiting on Union Pacific to announce the schedule for Big Boy 4-8-8-4 No. 4014.  It was supposed to be out a month ago. But now it’s late (as if delays are anything new in railroading) and you’re frustrated. You want to take time off. You want to make travel plans. You want to revel in the thought of standing trackside with significant amounts of the rest of humanity in the likes of Creston, Wyo., or Morgan, Utah, in approximately two months to see this monster roll by.

Cue a song, please. The theme song of the highly anxious late winter 2019 steam fan is none other than Carly Simon’s wonderful 1971 hit, “Anticipation.” It fits perfectly. I suggest you call it up on YouTube and take a listen. It’s all about waiting.

Steel yourself. The 4014 schedule announcement could be soon or it could be later. I went back two years to 2017 to see when UP announced No. 844’s schedule for its trip to Boise, Idaho. The trip ran in April, and the announcement of the detailed was made a little over a month in advance.

This isn’t the first time steam fans have had to wait to hear the news they long for. As a teenager and an adult, first the Southern Railway and then the Norfolk Southern steam schedule was the most anticipated piece of mail to arrive in March. Back in the 1970s, 1980s, and until 1994, when SR and NS operated as many as 60 trips a year (yes, you read that right, sixty!), the annual spring announcement was pure gold. It was an opportunity to plan the year’s railfan excursions. It was a chance to see where the train would go that it hadn’t been before or hadn’t been to recently. The train’s manager, Jim Bistline and his successor, Carl Jensen, would include a brief highlight letter and from there, your railroad enthusiast year was set. Waiting on that letter and schedule were truly a game for the patient and calm.

 Today, because a Big Boy has not run in 60 years, anticipation is high once again. The anticipation may exceed what we felt all those years ago waiting on the annual SR and NS schedules. One suggestion: Distract yourself by reading Newswire to see what else is happening in the U.S. steam scene. There’s plenty else going on with 765, 1309 and Iowa Interstate and its Chinese-built 2-10-2. SR 4501 is running north Georgia excursions again. Reading & Northern’s 4-6-2 No. 425 is set to run this year. Skookum will be in California next month. 1225 will be running. A three-truck Climax will steam in West Virginia. The picture for steam 2019 is not so bleak, after all. There’s plenty ahead to delight us all. To quote another pop singer, the late Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part.



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