The most famous Big Boy photo you'll never see ... and one that you will right now!

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Thursday, July 11, 2019

Some days begin well and end rough. Others start out on the wrong foot and end up in a waltz.

Today was one of the latter as many of us chased Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 on its eastbound trek across the Midwest. The day started off at one of the most iconic locations on the Omaha-North Platte, Neb., route, the s-curve known as Buttermilk Curve, about 20 miles east of North Platte near the village of Brady. We arrived early and enjoyed a procession of one freight train after another in both directions. While we’d noticed on Wednesday a predominance of eastbound trains, today it seemed as if there were more westbounds. That should have been on omen.

Sure enough, not long before 11 a.m., No 4014 came into view. At the same time so did a westbound hopper train. You know the story. We got royally shunked by the hoppers. This will be the most famous photo of an eastbound Big Boy on its first journey on the Overland Route through Nebraska that you will never see.

We had a great day intercepting the locomotive and its short train at several locations. At Grand Island, where BNSF Railway’s main line flies over the UP, we set up in hopes of an over and under shot with one of Warren Buffett’s trains and the Big Boy. Sure enough, the distributed power unit sailed over top of No. 4014 as the steam locomotive slowed to enter the UP yard. Some days that start out badly do end well.

*** More on No. 4014’s Midwestern tour tomorrow, including live streaming on the Trains Facebook page. If you want more Big Boy, be sure to check out, where our special issue, Big Boy Back in Steam, and the companion DVD, are available, as well as other great products

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