The Union Pacific Big Boy 4041 Steam Locomotive photographed as it passed through Jefferson City Missouri on August 5, 2021.
The massive steam powered engine was delivered to Union Pacific in December of 1941. It was one of 25 Big Boys built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad
. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. Big Boy 4014 served the railroad for twenty years before being retired in 1961 after traveling 1,031,205 miles.
Union Pacific ordered these locomotives in preparation for World War II because bigger was better in the eyes of the Union Pacific Railroad—especially when it came to a new locomotive for the Wasatch Mountains. Located in eastern Utah, the Wasatch Mountains were troublesome along the Union Pacific route. Because of the steep slopes, a traffic bottleneck was forming and with World War II looming on the horizon, the bottleneck became a significant challenge that needed attention. The answer was a single locomotive that could pull a 3,600-ton train, unassisted, over this stretch. Big Boy was that locomotive. A massive machine measuring nearly half a football field long and weighing in at over 600 tons, Big Boy easily surmounted the Wasatch. The locomotives were tested at speeds between 70 and 80 m.p.h. In regular service, Big Boys were limited to a top speed of 55 m.p.h. From the time the engineer applied the brakes, until the time the Big Boy and train came to a complete stop was between 1 to 1.5 miles.
There are seven Big Boys on public display in various cities around the country. They can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Read more on our Schaefer Photography Blog Post.