Chasing Big Boy 4014, Day 5: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Barry Lewis

For three days, thousands of adoring fans ogled 4014 and sister 844 and talked with their crews in Ogden Union Station. Sunday it was time to head home to the Cheyenne steam shops, the Valhalla of steam.

We headed east to catch the train as it leaned into the grade through Echo Canyon, about 30 miles from Ogden — on the way to the Sherman Hill climb the Big Boys were built for. Along the way, every rest stop and possible pullover was filled with fans waiting to see super-power steam in action. As a Bostonian, I relate to this like the time the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, their first in modern times: we witnessed something we thought we’d never see in our lifetimes. Now we can die happy.

On the train were a select group of folks who can die even happier: For a few thousand dollars each, they rode the UP executive train from Ogden into Wyoming, and were later bussed back to Ogden.

We stuck around for awhile to witness what the UP does for a living: big-time transcon railroading. In less than an hour, we witnessed a 120-car stack train and a 113-car mixed consist (44 auto racks and 69 assorted tankers, covered hoppers, boxcars and coil cars) drifting downhill, along with a 118-car stack train working its way up the grade. See the highlights of all the action in today’s video.