On the road with Big Boy No. 4014: Texas

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Monday, November 11, 2019

MARSHALL, Texas – Everything is bigger in Texas … except Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014.


On a cloudy rainy Monday as the cold front swept through, UP’s steam public relations mega force sat on display and entertained crowds in this former Texas & Pacific shop town. In fact, the locomotive and its display train occupied the site of the now demolished T&P shop.


In the last few days since we met No. 4014’s train in College Station for the donation announcement of UP’s George Bush No. 4141 SD70ACe to the Bush Library there, No. 4014 has continued to work its charm in former Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific territory. No. 4141 left the train at Palestine, Texas, and a standard UP freight motor took its place.


A few random thoughts from the journey:


  • UP management should have left the George Bush unit, which is bound for Jenks Shops in North Little Rock, Ark., with the Big Boy trainset, which is also going there. When you have a duet that is over-the-top good, leave it together. It takes nothing away from the Big Boy.


  • Photographing Big Boy in Texas is a challenge due to the heavy overgrowth that lines the tracks nearly everywhere. The few breaks we’ve seen have been spectacular, and the hills on the MoPac are definitely there.


  • Tuesday’s journey will see Big Boy back past, switch tracks, and then pass the Marshall depot, a brick T&P station that may be one of the best Amtrak stations around. It is nothing less than spectacular. The second-floor balcony must be one of America’s great train-watching locations. Join us on the Trains' Facebook page to see it live. 


  • No. 4014 in east Texas and Arkansas: More proof that those who told us that a Big Boy would not and should not ever run again didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s two 4-8-4s under one roof, but today’s railroad infrastructure is in great shape, and that articulation works well.


Remember to watch from a safe distance and to help the public do the same. Our special issue, Big Boy Back in Steam and its DVD (also now available on Blu-Ray)  are in stock at www.kalmbachhobbystore.com, and we’re filming for another DVD of the Midwestern, Southwestern, and Southern tours of 2019 that will be released in January. You can pre-order it now. You'll also find coverage of the fall tour in our January (Cheyenne-El Paso) and February (El Paso-Cheyenne) issues. Thanks, and see you trackside!  




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