They were called Big Boys, and in the public’s mind they were indeed huge. The “Big Boy”, Union Pacific’s Class 4000 steam locomotives, may not have been the biggest in every dimension or measurement (see that discussion here), but they were biggest where it counted, in public relations, in the hearts of the public and in longevity – outlasting all competitors for the “biggest” crown.

In fact, there’s a Big Boy running today. We’ll fill you in on the entire history of the Big Boy locomotives, but particularly the history of Union Pacific Big Boy 4014. After 60 years sitting at a museum park in California, she moved her wheels under her own steam again in 2019.

By the way, steam locomotives are properly referred to as “she” or “her”. It seems odd calling a machine, let along one called Big Boy, a female pronoun, and railfans have had some pretty heated discussions about that subject over the years! We attempt some enlightenment with “Hey, Big Boy is a HE, why did you call Big Boy a SHE?“. Enjoy all our Big Boy articles!

No posts