On the road with Big Boy 401: Into the wilds of Utah we go!

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Friday, October 4, 2019

MILFORD, Utah – Today was one of those amazing days when a steam locomotive cuts through a rugged and beautiful landscape and plops you down in an out of the way place that you’d never travel to otherwise. 


Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 made its way down the Sharp Subdivision from Provo, Utah, to Lyndyll, where it meets up with the much busier Lyndyll Subdivision for the trip south to Delta, Deseret, Black Rock, and the destination, Milford. Local fans tell me they never expected to see UP steam, much less a Big Boy, on the Sharp. We enjoyed the day for many reasons:


• At Provo, the train was turned north for ease of display, and it had to be wyed to go south. That meant backing No. 4014 onto the former Rio Grande mainline, so we can truly say that today was the first time a Big Boy ever operated on the Rio Grande. 


• At Lyndyll, we watched a coal train short on crew time, pass No. 4014, which proceeded south from there, after a show and tell stop in Delta, with wonderful urgency. The locomotive and train looked great, rolling off mile after mile in the late afternoon sun, entering Milford, a UP crew change point, to a hero’s welcome.


• Milford was a rare Big Boy destination back the day, but not unheard of. Saturday’s trip to Caliente, Nev., marks new territory for an operating Big Boy. 


Some favorite photos from today: 


Near Leamington, where a soda ash mine dominates the landscape and the train crosses the Sevier River, a small crowd of 20-30 fans gathered to watch the spectacle. 


South of Deseret, No. 4014 rolled along in stark contrast to a windmill farm.


At Milford, a gentleman brought out his ’36 Chevy to provide a contrast to the 1941 Alco. 


If you enjoy these images, check out our 100-page special issue, Big Boy Back in Steam and the companion DVD of the same name that is now available in Blu-ray at www.kalmbachhobbystore.com. A full story on No. 4014’s Southwestern tour will be in our January issue, and we’ll produce another DVD of this tour and the Midwestern tour early in 2020. 

I'll bid you a good night with this shot from just south of Santaquin,Utah, where No. 4014 has crested a short grade and is dropping down hill. 

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