Big Boy #4014 will stay in North Platte until further notice due to Nebraska flood waters

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - In the biggest railroad classification yard in the world sits the world's biggest steam railroad engine.

Bailey Yard in North Platte will be the temporary home for Big Boy #4014 until further notice. This, due to the flooding in Central Nebraska early on Monday.

This piece of moving history will move again, and folks out east will also get to enjoy seeing its magnificence in size, sound and history.

Here's a bit of that history in case you missed hearing about it.

There were 25 Big Boys built for the Union Pacific Railroad, nearly 80 years ago. Eight of those remain. Big Boy #4014, which sits currently in North Platte is the only one that is operational, and the only one now again owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Locomotive Engineer Ed Dickens is proud to be a part of the "great team" which looks after Big Boy #4014. He is the manager of the Steam Program, and Big Boy's engineer.

He said, "It's very historic in that there has not been a Big Boy steam locomotive operating since 1959."

While many became scrap metal, and those left sit still in museums (many rusted from the elements), this "Big Boy" has come back in a big way.

Dickens said they drew the locomotive's original name on the front with chalk. Big Boy got the name in 1941.

The engine no longer uses coal to make steam. Rather, it gets filled up with recycled motor oil. A contractor follows the route of the engine, filling the tanks, while crew members add water, and other attend to Big Boy's many other needs.

Dickens says he loves having "the giant" out for people to see.
"People are fascinated with steam locomotives, and they've been asking, 'when is the Union Pacific going to restore a Big Boy steam locomotive for three decades or more."

He added, "Well here you have it, right here in North Platte."

Dickens said, "It's always heart warming, but it's really a special reaction - particularly the older generation that remember the steam locomotives."
Larry Golden of North Platte is retired from the Union Pacific Railroad. He recalled seeing the engines in motion.
"I was an engine dispatcher in Cheyenne. Cheyenne, North Platte, to Grand Island, and I called the 4000's west out on the Fifth District, which was Cheyenne West. It was quite a machine."

Dickens says it's also the young children who get very excited.
"They actually get to see a real live, breathing, animated engine. It's just really special for them."

Big Boy #4014 was retired in 1960 after traveling 1,031,205 miles. The Union Pacific reacquired this locomotive from the Rail Giants Train Museum in Pomona, California in 2013. It was taken to Cheyenne for restoration.

This Big Boy was scheduled to travel east to Omaha in time for Railroad Days there, but it will now wait until the trip is possible.