Traveling across the mid-west, Big Boy #4014 makes North Platte home for the weekend

More than a Whistle stop at North Chestnut and North Poplar Streets
Published: Aug. 7, 2021 at 11:10 AM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Rail Days are well underway in North Platte, and one of the main events is traveling through just in time.

Big Boy #4014 is the world’s largest operating steam locomotive, and the traveling piece of history is stopped in North Platte on the tracks near the corner of North Chestnut Street and North Poplar Street.

Conductor Jim Leonard with Big Boy #4014
Conductor Jim Leonard with Big Boy #4014(Melanie Standiford)
Conductor Jim Leonard, Big Boy #4014
Conductor Jim Leonard, Big Boy #4014(Melanie Standiford)

The 1941 locomotive, after being retired after twenty years of service in 1961, and after over one million working miles, is putting on some new miles for a new crowd.

“It’s really cool, it’s super cool. My dad told me it was built a long time ago.”

Colton Way, out with his familiy to see Big Boy #4014

Long before he was born.

Colton Way
Colton Way(Melanie Standiford)
Conductor Jim Leonard, Big Boy #4014
Conductor Jim Leonard, Big Boy #4014(Melanie Standiford)

The massive locomotive was in North Platte and along a similar route in 2019 for a debut tour after being restored, in conjunction with the 150th Anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. This year Big Boy, along with the Union Pacific’s classic passenger train, is making its way through parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. The trip coincides with many of the nation’s most famous train days.

Passenger Train, UPPR
Passenger Train, UPPR(Melanie Standiford)
Big Boy #4014 in North Platte
Big Boy #4014 in North Platte(Melanie Standiford)

Of note, while the passenger train is being pulled by Big Boy, there are no paying passengers along for the ride during this part of the trip. Some lucky folks, however, in New Orleans, have the opportunity to purchase special tickets for the Gala Fundraiser for the Union Pacific Museum. That trip is happening on August 22.

Big Boy #4014 in North Platte
Big Boy #4014 in North Platte(Melanie Standiford)

Big Boy #4014 pulls back into its home steam shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Tuesday, September 7 after his journey is done. In the meantime, folks in North Platte can go see him until Sunday. The beautiful piece of rolling history heads east out of North Platte at 8 am on Sunday morning.

Big Boy #4014 in North Platte
Big Boy #4014 in North Platte(Melanie Standiford)

Press Release from the Union Pacific Railroad:

Union Pacific’s Big Boy Locomotive Returns in 2021 With 10-State Tour; Two Overnights in North Platte, Nebraska

“Big Boy No. 4014, the famed Union Pacific steam locomotive built in the 1940s to conquer mountains while carrying equipment in support of World War II, is embarking on a 10-state tour that will include a two-day stop in North Platte, Nebraska.

On Thursday, Big Boy will leave its home base at the Union Pacific Steam Shop in Cheyenne at 8 a.m. MDT. On Friday, at about 2:30 p.m. CDT, Big Boy will arrive in North Platte where it can be viewed near East Front Street, between Chestnut and Poplar streets.

In addition to North Platte, Big Boy will make two whistle stops on Friday, Aug. 6, in Nebraska and Colorado:

The two whistle stops scheduled Aug. 6, with estimated times:

· 9:30 a.m. MDT – Julesburg, Colorado, 201 W. 1st St.

· 11:15 a.m. MDT – Ogallala, Nebraska, S. Spruce St.

Big Boy will leave North Platte on Sunday, Aug. 8., at about 8 a.m. CDT.

This is the first time Big Boy has gone on tour since its post-restoration debut in 2019 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion. It is returning in 2021 with brief whistle-stops in more than 90 communities and one-day public display events in five major cities: Fort Worth and Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and Denver, Colorado.

Train enthusiasts of all ages will get a chance to hear, smell and see the train when it passes through their town. Depending on the schedule, Big Boy will be in town for about 45 minutes for each whistle stop. This will give participants plenty of time to see or talk to the steam team, as well as take a “selfie” with the world’s largest steam locomotive, one of 25 of its kind built and the only one still in operation.

Fans can share their photos on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and use the #BigBoy2021 hash tag for a chance to win a Big Boy T-shirt. Fifty winners will be selected throughout the tour. Union Pacific reminds all participants to be safe and stay 25 feet back from the tracks when taking a picture. (Big Boy is so big that putting a little distance between you and this mighty locomotive makes for a better photo.)

Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December of 1941. This powerful machine was built to cross the Wasatch Mountain Range east of Ogden, Utah. It was retired in 1961 after traveling a little over a million miles, reacquired by Union Pacific in 2013, and restored to service in 2019.

A complete schedule of Big Boy’s 2021 multi-city tour, along with a map tracking its journey, can be found at The public can also follow along with Big Boy’s adventure on Twitter at #BigBoy2021.five

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