A historic steam locomotive en route to Denver made its first Colorado appearance in Kit Carson on Saturday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s completion.
Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy No. 4014 is making dozens of stops as it rolls across the country. The tour started Sept. 27 in Cheyenne and crossed Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, touring the Union Pacific rail system, before its last leg in Colorado.
After stopping in Kit Carson on Saturday , the train continued on to Hugo and Limon. Monday, the train is scheduled to arrive in Strasburg by 10:15 a.m. and Denver by 2 p.m. Tuesday, the locomotive will arrive in La Salle at 10:25 a.m. and Greeley at 11:15 a.m. before returning to Cheyenne.
Along the train’s tour, thousands of people have gathered to watch the metallic wheels chug across the tracks at each of the train’s stops, said Kristen South, a Union Pacific spokeswoman.
A team of nine people worked to restore the Big Boy train for more than two years in preparation of this year’s tours, South said.
During World War II, 25 Big Boy trains were commissioned for Union Pacific to support the war effort. Weighing in at 1.2 million pounds and 132 feet long, the trains required special frames with hinges that allowed them to handle curves in the railroad. Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941 and retired 20 years later. The company reacquired the locomotive from the RailGiants Museum in California in 2013 to begin its restoration process. On May 10, 1869, Union Pacific and Central Pacific, the nation’s most prominent railroad companies at the time, met in Promontory, Utah, to create the first continuous railroad line that connected eastern and western rail systems. Scott Moore, senior vice president of corporate relations for Union Pacific, said the greatness of the locomotive was representative of celebrating the monumental achievement that the Transcontinental Railroad accomplished.
“Big Boy makes a big impression in communities it visits, reminding us of bygone days and the important role the railroad continues to play in our global economy,” Moore said in a news release.
Only eight Big Boys are left, South said, and No. 4014 is the only operational one.
“It really is just a tribute to the intrepid nature of our nation, and Americans generally, that they take on obstacles and move forward regardless of the challenges,” said Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, in the video. The train will end it’s 2-month-long journey back at Cheyenne, South said, where Union Pacific is still deciding what to do with it. It will likely remain there on display, South said, for hundreds more to enjoy.
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