On the road with Big Boy 4014: On home turf on Wasatch grade

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

PROVO, Utah – Some locomotives photograph better when they’re in their native element. Norfolk & Western No. 1218 and 611 on the N&W Pokey Division in West Virginia, Frisco 1522 on the SLSF mainline between Springfield and St. Louis at Swedeborg, Mo., and Santa Fe 3751 on the Transcon in Arizona all fall into that sacred category. Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014, likewise, never looks better than when it is on the Overland Route, and especially on the Wasatch Grade for which it was designed.


On Tuesday, those of us lucky enough to be present on a patented Utah sunny day, witnessed the giant head west over from Evanston, Wyo., just a ballast throw away from the state line, and crest the summit at Wahsatch, Utah. Thanks to a preceding westbound stack train with more than 600 axles in its mammoth consist, No, 4014 had to dog its journey, stopping often, and giving those of us on the ground following for images what can only be described as an embarrassment of riches. A frosty morning aided and abetted in this cause, giving us plumes of smoke that evoked images of volcanic activity in the Pacific. We were blessed. 


Let’s look at a few of the images we got today.


First up, Evanston departure, a few minutes after leaving the station site, No. 4014 begins to lean into the Wasatch grade with a ferocity that was soon squelched by the stack train ahead of it. 


Second shot, almost on the Utah / Wyoming state line: We got this thanks to the stack train that held up No. 4014. 


The locomotive that was supposed to be called the Wasatch type crests the grade at Wahsatch, Utah. Not visible below in a cut is the eastbound mainline. 


Echo Canyon from the I-80 west rest area: An eastbound stack train had arrived and stopped with its rear just below us. As No. 4014 approached from the east, another eastbound stack pulled up to within a few car lengths of the last well car. No. 4014 still cast a dramatic pose in this classic location.


The descent of Weber Canyon almost complete, No. 4014 drops down grade through Uintah, Utah.


 I hope your enjoy these images. Please be sure to check our videos of No. 4014 in action and pick up a copy of Big Boy Back in Steam, our 100-page special issue, and our 2-hour DVD of the same name, now available in Blu-ray, both available at


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