On the road with Big Boy No. 4014: Chicago ahead!

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Watch out Chicago! Big Boy is heading your way! 


Yes, Union Pacific No. 4014 is making its way across Wisconsin today, tomorrow, and Thursday. The 4-8-8-4 will cross the Cheddar Curtain into Illinois on Friday on its way to a three-day display in West Chicago at the Larry Provo training center. It’s going to be the King of Steam in America’s Railroad Capital Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! 


And it may be the first time a Big Boy has visited Chicago under steam.


Most certainly, all 25 Big Boys went west via Chicago & North Western’s main line across Iowa to Omaha, where they were set up and run west to spend their working lives in Utah and Wyoming with occasional jaunts to Denver and North Platte.  


We know that No. 4024 attended the Chicago Railroad Fair of 1948. According to William Kratville’s “Motive Power of the Union Pacific,” the engine went dead in tow via C&NW. It appears from images that 2-8-2 No. 1935 was displayed with No. 4024. 

We also know from photos in our David P. Morgan Library that No. 4022 did the honors in 1949. I suspect it also went dead in tow. We found pictures that show it with a miniature railroad built around it as well as crossing gates for presumably what was a gravel path leading to the cab. 


So, Big Boys are no strangers to Chicago, but having one there in steam is truly a rare thing. Just having UP steam in town is rare enough: Challenger No. 3985 last visited in 2002. 


If you’re looking to see Big Boy in the Chicago area, set up somewhere along the UP line that Metra uses between Elmhurst, Villa Park, Glen Ellyn, and Wheaton for a show that never has been seen before, and possibly might never be seen again for a long, long time. 


A reminder that we will live stream portions of No. 4014’s visit to Chicago on Thursday and Friday and next Tuesday. This will be shown on the Trains Facebook page. Don’t forget to visit www.kalmbachhobbystore.com/shopBigBoy for great 4000-class products, including our exclusive DVD, Big Boy Back in Steam, and the 100-page special issue of the same name. Tell them I sent you! Be safe! 

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