There were 25 “Big Boy” steam locomotives built by American Locomotive Company between 1941 and 1944. Of those, eight remain in existence but none were operational - until now.
After five years of restoration, Big Boy No. 4014 is headed out on tour to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad.
According to coverage in Business Insider, Big Boys were designed to carry freight between Utah and Wyoming. Not surprisingly, the Big Boy is BIG: it’s said to be longer than two city buses, and it weighs more than a sold-out Boeing 74.
Two massive engines and a 250-ton boiler support Big Boy’s ability to haul cargo up steep mountain grades, and the locomotive is even reported to be able to pull the equivalent of 16 Statues of Liberty at once. Weird illustration, but… you get the picture.
Jim Wrinn, editor of Trains magazine, reportedly said that industry experts considered this train so complex they never thought it would be possible to restore one to a fully operational state. He called it the railroad version of the Goodyear blimp and estimated it probably cost about $4 million to restore.
One big change to modernize the 4014 was converting its energy source from coal to fuel oil to keep the drivers from becoming covered in soot.