Trains magazine chase guide to Big Boy No. 4014's Cheyenne-Ogden route, May 2019

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Thursday, April 04, 2019

So, it’s less than a month away from the day when Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 leaves Cheyenne, Wyo., on its epic inaugural journey across original Big Boy territory to Ogden, Utah. I can’t believe it. You can’t believe it. But believe it. It’s going to happen.

 

A lot of people are coming from a long way to see this. Most have not been to this part of the UP before. So, let’s get you some suggested locations for viewing and photography. Let’s take the westbound trek first.

 

• Cheyenne. Southwest Drive at I-80 Business. This is the famous crossing with the Burlington Route bridge in the background.

 

• Otto Road. There’s a pull off just after the tracks pass under I-80.

 

• Speer. There are a surprising number of public roads in the industrial park at the top of the hill at I-25 Exit 4. Get back to Berwick Drive. Bring a stepladder and watch over the fence separating UP property. Given the mid-morning departure, this may be some of the best sun when the engine is pointed south until much later in the day.

 

• Tie siding. Use county road 222 to reach this spot from either the Ames Monument off I-80 or

U.S. 287.

 

 • Laramie. A footbridge over the tracks next to the station has always been a fan favorite.

 

• Bosler to Medicine Bow. Plenty of shots from U.S. 30 all along the way.

 

• Hanna. Plenty of open spaces here.

 

• Creston. Crossing of the continental divide at 7,044 feet and entry into a bowl-shaped bit of geography. Good overhead images from highway 789 on the east side of this location, as above.

 

• Red Desert. Exit 165 off I-80 west. Plenty of viewing here at the site where Big Boy No. 4005 derailed.

 

• Tipton. Crossing of the continental divide at 6,996 feet. It’s the west side of the bowl.

 

• Bitter Creek. Exit 142 off I-80. It’s a ways back off the highway, which may lend itself to fewer people.

 

• Point of Rocks. A frontage road follows I-80 west of here. Take it.

 

•  Peru Hill. Leaving Green River going west, this long grade crests near the I-80 underpass. View the climb from the highway 37 bridge.

 

• Granger. You can shoot an ordinary shot here, as with this westbound intermodal, above, but the benefit is in its remoteness from I-80.

 

• Carter. Nothing out of the ordinary but again, away from the masses. Note: DO NOT try to drive Leroy Road west of here following the tracks or you will be sorry.

 

• Leroy. Exit 24 off I-80 to Leroy road north to the junction of road 32 and the grade crossing. This was the start of the old line to Piedmont.

 

• East approach to Aspen / Altamont tunnels. Exit 24 off I-80 to Piedmont Road, then west on county road 180 to an underpass.

 

• Evanston-Wahsatch. Take Wasatch Road (yes, they’re spelled differently) that follows the tracks to the top of the grade.

 

• Castle Rock. Big hillside that is a perfect overlook for you and 500 of your friends. Take exit 185 and enjoy the show. Remember, the tracks crossover each other on a bridge out of sight at Curvo just up the hill so that what was a train on the right side of a double track main line is now going to be on the left side from here all the way into Ogden.

 

• Emory. Take exit 178 off I-80 but be prepared to be stuck on Echo Canyon Road behind a traffic jam.

 

• I-80 West welcome center / rest area. Magnificent majestic view. Plenty of parking. Restrooms. Snacks and drinks. Need we say more?

 

• Devil’s Slide. Pull off and viewing area for this odd geographic formation, but watch out for the fence that separates the parking lot from the tracks.

 

That’s my recommendations for the westbound chase.

 

Going eastbound remember that trains leave Ogden running left-hand main and the tracks cross over each other on a bridge at the inaccessible spot called Curvo, just below the summit of Wasatch Grade.

 

• The first good spot eastbound is the I-84 rest area not far out of Ogden.

 

• Double bridges. Take Exit 92 then an immediate right to a dead end road. A nice hillside overlooks the whole scene. I decided to climb it in 2014.

 

• Taggarts double tunnels / double bridges. Take exit 108 and follow the old road to the bridges. DO NOT cross the tracks. (After this shot, if you’re done, go back under the Interstate to Taggart’s Grill. Tell them we sent you.)

 

• Henefer. Exit 112, follow the road to creekside.

 

• Henefer to Echo along old U.S. 30 / Henefer Road / Echo Road. Take Exit 115 and turn left. The road follows the tracks on a hillside all the way to Echo. See photo above.

 

• Echo to Emory along old U.S. 30. It’s spectacular. It will be crowded. Go early. Stake your claim. Stick to your spot. You get a reward. Come late and plan to be watching taillights. (alternatively, take I-80 to Castle Rock, double back to the Utah Welcome Center/ I-80 West rest area and watch the show from above [see notation on the westbound chase above])

 

• Castle Rock. See the notation for the westbound chase, but remember that the train will be on the mainline perched high on the side of the bluff. Check out the pic we got in 2014.

 

• Wahsatch. Exit 191. Watch the train crest the grade here or follow Wasatch Road into Evanston. Remember, the trains cross at Curvo, so your target is now on the closest main to you.

 

• Leroy, Carter, Granger. See entries for westbound chase.

 

• Peru Hill eastbound. I-80 to Exit 83. Left over the bridge, then a left again onto road 374. I love the decaying snow fence, as in the image from the 2014 chase, above.

 

• Green River, Airport Road. Take I-80 to Exit 111, then south to the crossing. Or take the frontage road that runs all the way to Point of Rocks.

 

• Tipton, Red Desert, Creston. See westbound chase notes. The above is the eastbound view of No. 4014 dropping downgrade from Tipton.

 

• Sinclair. Home of the dino the dinosaur refinery. Take I-80 out of Rawlins and immediately exit for road 76 into Sinclair. Follow through town to the overhead bridge on the east side.

 

• Hanna. Good photos on the east side of town where the U.S. 30 bridge crosses the tracks.

 

• Tie Siding. See Westbound entry.

 

• Buford. Exit 335 off I-80.

 

• Granite. Exit 342 off I-80 to frontage road.

 

• Otto Road. Exit 348. This road follows the tracks into Cheyenne. It was a parking lot in 2014 when the dead 4014 came home. No reason to believe it would be anything different in 2019 with a live specimen, but if you come early, you can get a spot and watch the grande finale of the greatest show on rails for 2019.

 

Please remember, stay off railroad property. Stay off private property. Drive safely and sanely. Keep at least 15 feet back from the tracks, and help your fellows do the same. We’ll see you there!

 

 

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