The value of five minutes and Big Boy No. 4014

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Monday, May 06, 2019

What is five minutes worth?

On Monday, I found out twice today while following Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 on its trip from Rock Spring, Wyo., and Evanston, Wyo.

The first occasion took place at Green River, where I’d set up to try for a dawn shot of the doubleheader with 4-8-4 No. 844 at the classic bridge shot with Castle Rock in the back ground. The place has been photographed since the construction of the original transcontinental railroad in the late 1860s. Big Boys were often photographed at the base of Peru Hill with Castle Rock in the background. It is one of those iconic shots in railroading.

Because of a maintenance of way window, the steam train departed Rock Springs shortly after 4 a.m. It arrived a few minutes late in Green River and departed about 5:34 a.m. Sunrise is at 6:10 a.m. you know what happened next: It was almost light enough for a shot with the ISO turned way up high on my Nikon. Almost being the operative word. It was just not quite light enough. Results below. If I’d only had another five minutes.

The second place where I could have used an extra five minutes was at Altamont / Aspen tunnels near Evanston and the end of the run. UP generously responded to my request to photograph the train at the tunnels. We arrived with our UP escort to find a gate that was supposed to be locked still locked. After finding a local UP crew with a key, we proceeded to the tunnels. As we stepped out of our cars, I heard and felt a familiar rumble. I raised my camera for a grab shot. Results are below. Ah, if we’d have only had another five minutes.

Others on the Trains team had better luck – some of it the shot of a lifetime. You’ll see their work in our July issue, in our special issue, Big Boy Back in Steam, and our DVD of the same name. And remember to watch our live Facebook coverage of 4014’s historic run is sponsored by Railfan Depot and Nevada Northern Railway Museum.

No. 4014 and No. 844 are off on Tuesday. They’re laying over in Evanston. They’ll make the final lap of their trip on Wednesday. I’ll go location scouting in Echo Canyon. For now, I’ve been up since a little after 3 a.m. It’s nappy hour and to dream what might have happened this morning at two locations – if I only had five minutes more!

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