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Submitted on
February 11, 2012
Image Size
1.8 MB


19,010 (12 today)
702 (who?)

Camera Data

Shutter Speed
1464128/100000000 second
Focal Length
6 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Feb 11, 2012, 12:32:36 PM
Nikon Transfer 1.0 W
Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 in Pomona by rlkitterman Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 in Pomona by rlkitterman
The Railfan Nation named this 6 out of the top 50 pictures in the group for the year 2012. Thank you to everyone!

The biggest steam locomotive in the world is the Union Pacific Big Boy, designed by Otto Jabelmann and built by ALCO in 1941 to pull long, heavy trains over the mountains. The class was originally to have been named "Wasatch" for the mountain range. However, during construction, a worker scrawled "Big Boy" on the body of one of the big engines, and the UP decided to call the engines Big Boys.

The UP was obsessed with big engines, which would let them run longer and fewer trains on the steep slopes, and the 4-8-8-4 Big Boy was the acme, the zenith, the biggest Big Engine of all. Each of the 25 Big Boys (Nos. 4000-4024) was nearly 140 feet long, as tall as a house, and weighed over 600 tons. In other words, the locomotive had the size and weight of a small ship. The firebox burned coal fed by a mechanical stoker, and a centipede tender carried the coal and water supply for the long boiler. The 4-8-8-4 articulated Mallet configuration, in which the front of the engine could pivot, let the Big Boy go around curves in the mountains. The Big Boy was not only powerful enough to pull 3000 or 4000 ton trains, but was also very fast for its size, able to reach 80 miles per hour. This became very useful in World War II, when the Big Boys had to haul long military trains across the country.

The Big Boys were retired in the early 1960s, and No. 4014 is preserved at the Railway Locomotive Historical Society ("Rail Giants") at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. Given the sheer size of the Big Boy, which could only be turned on two long turntables, there are no plans to restore it to operating status.

Happy 150 years, Union Pacific!

Over 4000 views in the first day? And hundreds of favorites? Thanks everyone! I've never had a picture be this successful before!

PS: I know there is a lot of debate over this, but I think the Big Boy is generally recognized as the overall biggest steam engine when you average out the size, weight, and power.

PPS: Thank you for everyone who came and viewed this picture, as I have just gotten over 10,000 views on it!

PPPS: According to Trains Magazine, the Union Pacific Railroad wants to take No. 4014 and restore it to operating condition in time for the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad in 2019. If that is true, then the Big Boy will ride again!
Add a Comment:
Daniel-Storm Featured By Owner Edited Aug 31, 2014
That is some kind'a amazing. :clap:
researcher42 Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014
Man I like to see one of these running
down the railroad tracks.
DC1224DC Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014
with a 5 mile fright train behind it
AnonymousLifeform Featured By Owner May 22, 2014
Industry! Yeah!
HearseGurl Featured By Owner May 6, 2014   Photographer
Beautiful Shot! :+fav:
GBR3 Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014
omega-steam Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Well, she's gone. Now replaced by a rather boring SD40-2 in its stead.
zhugebeifong Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Have you heard that the Big Boy departed from California and is now heading to Cheyenne?
rlkitterman Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Yes, I was following the news on Facebook, and I am looking forward to hearing from UP how the restoration is progressing.
zhugebeifong Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That is interesting. You know, I was able to stand by, and board a UP Challenger in Cheyenne. It was impressive to actually see the cab.
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