Magnificent Big Boy

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  • Member since
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Magnificent Big Boy
Posted by Gramp on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 9:32 PM

I drove over to Altoona (WI) with a friend to see the Big Boy today.  Mind you, his adult children, upon his telling them on Sunday he was gonna drive three hours today to see a steam engine, mocked him mercilessly for the thought of doing that.

When we arrived, there were cars parked for many blocks from the station, jammed everywhere.  Altoona is a small town that's part of a smallish city, Eau Claire.  Luckily we found a parking spot two short blocks from the station.  (By the way, The "400" Bar and The Golden Spike Bar and Grill are across the street from the station...vintage Wisconsin).

As we walked to the station, HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE of all ages were crowded around the train.  It was magical.  As American as apple pie.  The engine is fantastic.  Alive!  That steamboat whistle?  Oh, man.  The UP people...just great!  So heartening!

Ed Dickens, in blue bib overalls and a bill cap, was project manager for the restoration (2 1/2 years to accomplish) and is operator of the locomotive.  He was presented with a neat plaque by town dignitaries in front of the locomotive.

Upon our leaving, there was a 2 1/2 block long line throng waiting to go through the Union Pacific Experience car and a half block line waiting to get to the souvenir tables.

What an experience.  My friend was amazed and impressed.

On Thursday I plan to see the Big Boy in motion, south of Friesland.

If you can, go see it while you have the chance! 

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Posted by JOE LAMBERT on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 6:28 PM

I wish to echo the sentiment. I brought my dad down from Michigan to West Chicago to see the train. We were fortunate enough to find parking nearby as the UP training center is practically in the middle of a neighborhood. People attending were all very nice and patient. The staff and (I assume) volunteers were helpful as well. We waited in a pretty long line to move through the “Experience “ car, which is tastefully done and very concise representations of the history and operations of Union Pacific. Of course everyone wants the angle for the best picture of that magnificent tribute to human engineering, and with a touch of patience and courtesy, I think everyone was able to get that shot. Highly recommend making the trip to see it if it’s anywhere near you. 

Thank you Uncle Pete for sharing this piece of history with the rest of us. 

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Posted by Sunnyland on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 8:55 AM

Friends and I saw her at Evanston, WY, running thru Echo, Utah when we happened to be in the same place as the train and was able to pace it for 20 mins or so, filming a video and taking pics.  Was not able to get close in Ogden, way too many people but we watched the ceremony on Jumbotron from bleacher seats and could hear what was going on.  We just returned from W. Chicago, IL where she was on display and an immense crowd there too. But we were able to get right next to engine, one of our friends knows Ed and other steam crew members, so we were able to talk to them.  Ed had given us a private tour of steam shop in 2017 when we were in Cheyenne on way to CO. She was all stripped and being worked on, but they pulled it together as we knew they would.  My friends waited in line for about 2 hours for the UP Experience car, I cannot stand long time, so I sat on folding chair in shade until they got close to boarding and called me to join them. That worked out well and car was very interesting. Never got near it or even found it in Ogden.  I was busy visiting museums in Ogden station-they have a nice one on UP and SP history and also John Browning the gun designer who was from Ogden.  Remembered passing thru the station a number of times on way to CA being switched over from UP to SP and vice versa, so was very familiar with that station and glad they kept it and restored it, still as beautiful as I remember. Glad to see huge crowds and know that many people are still interested in trains.  I grew up being a railfan with my parents who were railfans too, working for Frisco. Mom was 3rd generation in her family.  

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 9:31 AM

I caught it on both sides of Evanston WY and was in Ogden on May 9th for the celebration.  There is no substitute for seeing it in action, in person.  

Who knows how long UP will remain interested in their steam heritage?  Go see it now, if you can!

https://flic.kr/p/S57jde

https://flic.kr/p/25d6Xz2

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 10:47 AM

oltmannd

I caught it on both sides of Evanston WY and was in Ogden on May 9th for the celebration.  There is no substitute for seeing it in action, in person.  

Who knows how long UP will remain interested in their steam heritage?  Go see it now, if you can!

https://flic.kr/p/S57jde

https://flic.kr/p/25d6Xz2

 

 

That is always the dark cloud hanging over corporate steam programs.  They can disappear overnight depending on who's fanny is in the CEO's seat.  Unless he's overruled by the board of directors.

Given the massive turn-out and positive publicity generated by the Big Boy I wouldn't worry about the UP steam program.  It's doing exactly what it's meant to do, spread goodwill and tell the UP story. 

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Posted by ndbprr on Thursday, August 01, 2019 7:02 PM

Does anyone know the name of the Alco employee who wrote the "Big Boy" on the smokebox?  I assume he is lost to history.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, August 01, 2019 9:15 PM

As far as I know he's "...lost to history."  Too bad.

Still, it wasn't unusual for any BIG steam locomotive in the old days to be referred to as a "Big Boy."  There's even a scene in the 1930 movie "Danger Lights" where one of the characters is told to "...work on the Big Boy,"  long before THE "Big Boys" ever showed up. 

Anyway, the name stuck, and stuck permanently, to the 1941 ALCO product. 

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Posted by Lord Atmo on Friday, August 02, 2019 12:27 AM

Being a lifelong resident of Eau Claire, I was all over this! I chased 4014 to Altoona from Bethel MN. I was able to meet Ed and get a picture with him too. As for the exhibit car, I wanted to check it out, but like OP said, the line was nearly as long as the train itself! So I spent hours just gawking at that massive steam locomotive. It's just cool to finally see some UP steam here for the first time since they took over this track in 1995. I certainly made the most of it!

Listen twice, talk once.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, August 02, 2019 12:37 AM

From Lake County:

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, August 02, 2019 8:09 AM

Great shot Overmod!  Well done!

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Posted by Sunnyland on Monday, August 19, 2019 7:30 PM

Friends and I went to W. Chicago too, and we were able to get as close to #4014 as we wanted, One of my friends knows Ed Dickens and was able to talk to him and the other crew members that she knows too. They were very patient answering plenty of questions that people were asking. They waited in line 2 hours for Experience car, I sat on folding chair in shade and they texted me when they got close. That was very interesting.  We had also been at Ogden & Promontory Point in May and we were able to get much closer and see things that we could not do there.  Crowds were huge and fences in some areas kept people standing in line and not really able to get close to the engines.  So it was well worth the trip to finally get pictures of Big Boy. We were able to chase her for a short time at Echo,Utah when we found her just by chance and that was a big thrill too.  Thanks to UP for making all of this happen.  

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, August 19, 2019 8:43 PM

You folks are very lucky. I’m sure the Big Boy isn’t coming anywhere near Maine, where I live.

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