On the road with Big Boy 4014: Nevada welcomes the King of the Rails, Elvis, I mean, 4014!

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Sunday, October 6, 2019

LAS VEGAS – Elvis may have been the king of Rock and Roll in this city once upon a time, but the undisputed King the Rails is Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014. The locomotive and its 10-car train arrived Sunday to a warm welcome and thousands of spectators who gathered along the tracks on the 126-mile route from Caliente, Nev., to 1001 Iron Horse Court in downtown Las Vegas, just north of the strip.

This was something of a complete circle for me. In 2014, when the unrestored Big Boy was being towed some 1,400 miles from southern California to Cheyenne, Wyo., and the UP steam shop, this is where I picked up the story. I followed that move to Cheyenne. I’d never seen so many people come out to view a dead steam locomotive, and I predicted, correctly as it turns out, that pandemonium would break out when the restored engine ran here. I photographed the unrestored Big Boy with the Las Vegas Stratosphere tower, with the smokebox front looming large in the 2014 photo, and this time the barrel of the boiler dominating the scene this time. In 2014, Cheyenne was my end point. In 2019, Cheyenne was my starting point, and Las Vegas my ending location. It is time to say goodbye to the train, the crew, the spectators, and the people behind the scenes who make it all happen and return to my office job. I’m OK with that because the journey was a successful one: We have great content to share with you here, and in print in our January issue, and for DVD to follow up our Big Boy Back in Steam video available at www.kalmbachhobbystore.com.

We also got to see the Big Boy thread spectacular Meadow Valley Wash between Caliente and Moapa. The scenery was truly equal the to the grandeur of the Big Boy. Here are some favorite shots from today. Here are some favorites from Sunday. 

We start out with this look at one of the many canyons that make up Meadow Valley Wash. At the left, you can see the chase crowd on highway 317.

From there, we went south of Elgin to catch the locomotive exiting one of the many tunnels on the line.


In Moapa, we got skunked when a northbound empty hopper train blocked the view from Nevada 168. This shot was made looking under the chain link fence on the bridge over the railroad. 


At Hidden Valley, No. 4014 opened up and roared right along.

At Las Vegas, there was a rock star’s welcome for the engine. Like I said, Big Boy is the King of the Rails, the Elvis of the rails! 





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