Field of Dreams – UP 4014 in Iowa/Nebraska (photo essay)

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  • Member since
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Field of Dreams – UP 4014 in Iowa/Nebraska (photo essay)
Posted by mfmalk on Thursday, August 15, 2019 2:29 AM


Follow the link above to my photo essay of the Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 in Iowa and Nebraska last month. The weather was miserably hot and humid, yet people turned out in droves. Surprising was the numbers just standing around trackside. Not inline for anything – just soaking it all in. It was so much more than just the images captured; rather the rare experience and magic of bringing great joy to countless thousands by an operating steam locomotive from a bygone era.

But not just any steam locomotive. Twenty five ‘Big Boy’ locomotives were built to haul freight over the Wasatch Mountains between Utah and Wyoming. In the late 1940s, they were reassigned to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where they hauled freight over Sherman Hill to Laramie. These were the only locomotives to use a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement: four-wheel leading truck for stability entering curves, two sets of eight driving wheels and a four-wheel trailing truck to support the large firebox.
Eight Big Boys survive today, most on static display at museums across the country. 4014 was re-acquired by the Union Pacific Railroad in 2013 for restoration to operating condition. The locomotive’s rebirth was completed in May 2019 and made its first runs since 1959 that same month, allowing it to regain the title as the largest and most powerful operating steam locomotive in the world.
Doing the job it’s now called on to perform as a public relations tool, 4014 is an absolute home run! The locomotive looks good. Union Pacific looks good. The public left with a good opinion of the railroad. Steam and community brought together. All of those people who came out to witness the 4014 operating were surely not all railfans. Mission accomplished!
At some point I will rejoin the chase as 4014 again embarks from home base in Cheyenne for some Southern California excursions in October; I look forward to seeing so many families out enjoying the view of the train performing. And seeing that menacing yet very graceful beast in motion.
Thank you to Union Pacific and the steam crew for all their hard work in making this experience so enjoyable for us all.


  • Member since
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  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 7:56 AM

Great work Matthew, as always!

I did smile at the cornfield shot, great "Field of Dreams" reference.  Of course, anywhere Big Boy shows up is a field of dreams!

Did Jim Wrinn know you were "stalking" him?  Wink

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  • From: Louisiana
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Posted by Paul of Covington on Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:20 PM

   Beautiful work, Mathew.   Thank you.

   I got a kick out of "Little & Big Boys", with the two boys, one with dad covering his son's ears, and the other covering his own ears.   Reminds me of the first couple of train trips the family took.  My older sister and I were excited as the train approached, but as the locomotive got closer with all the noise and steam spewing, we turned and closed our eyes and covered our ears.


   "A stranger is just a friend you ain't met yet."  ___ Dave Gardner

  • Member since
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  • From: Great Plains
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Posted by York1 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:39 PM

Great pictures.  Glad you got one in there of Omaha Union Station.

If some of you haven't seen it, it is worth the time and effort.  It's a beautiful art deco station, with lots of displays.

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by mfmalk on Friday, August 16, 2019 4:38 AM


It was my first time to Iowa and Nebraska; never saw so many lush cornfields. The ‘Field of Dreams’ movies is one of my favorites, I was very happy to be in Iowa chasing 4014 amongst the corn.

I was talking to Jim Wrinn for a half an hour before; as the train started to move he was shooting both stills and video. I saw him too late, missed the shot. I walked up to him, asked him to do that again, and captured the image. Not cheating, but it was slightly staged…



Thank you! The “Little Boys” photo is my favorite of the bunch, in one form or another it is how so many of us became interested in trains; me included. I can only image that the kids pictured are fans of Thomas, and maybe this was their first exposure to a live engine. I’m willing to bet they are now hooked for life.



Omaha Union station is gorgeous, both inside and out - it has retained so much of its original glory. But how that all was back in the heyday, just a few hundred yards away is the former CB&Q station as seen in the very last photo.



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