Information on the Union Pacific Big Boy........
Boy, the largest successful engine ever created, was not only a technological achievement and trophy piece, rather a necessity
for the Union Pacific Railroad.The Big Boy fleet of twenty five locomotives were used
primarily in the Wyoming Division to haul freight between Green River, Wyoming and Ogden, Utah. Before BigBoy, a helper service was required. This is where a smaller engine is coupled to a mainline freight
to "help" it over the hill. The engine would then return to the bottom of the hill and await the next through train. Not only
was this a slow process, but rather expensive. A new engine was needed, one that could pull a train up the hill unassisted.
The UP Class 4000, 4-8-8-4 articulated BigBoy was the answer.
Alco Locomotive Works was commissioned to build
the engine. Starting in 1941, 20 engines were built: #4000 to #4019, then again in 1944, 5 more were delivered #4020 to #4024.
At 6PM on September the 5th, 1941, the first BigBoy, #4000, strode through the east end of the UP's Omaha yard. After testing
and trials, 4000 was immediately put into active service. Mainly used during the peak season from July through November, the
4000s were used to take the massively heavy red balls over the Hill. The red balls are also known a PFEs, or Pacific Fruit
Express Reefers, basically produce trains. Due to the heavy nature of these cars when fully loaded, prior to BigBoy, it wasn't
unusual to see 2, 3 or even 4 engines struggling up Sherman Hill! Now, just one BigBoy and one engine crew was needed, saving
the Union Pacific a lot of money.
BigBoy served as king of the hill for 21 years! Over those 21 years, his track
record will ever be remembered by steam BUFFs around the world. Traveling an astonishing 1 million miles each (4016 had the
lowest mileage at 1,016,124 and 4006 the highest at 1,064,625), they accumulated more service then most, fighting their way
relentlessly up the grades every day. They reigned supreme over Sherman Hill until the summer or 1957. Normally, it was not
uncommon to see anywhere from 3 to 6 BigBoys traveling from Cheyenne to Laramie everyday, all pulling separate trains.
day came that all steam BUFFs refused to accept, September 4th, 1957, not a single BigBoy was dispatched west out of the Cheyenne
yards. The year 1958 saw even less BigBoy revenue, in fact, it saw the last of the regularly scheduled trains over Sherman
Hill being pulled by a Class 4000. That year, only 10 were called into service and saw constant use from late August to early
October, the rest sat dormant in the RoundHouse and engine storage tracks in the Cheyenne Wyoming yards; waiting for a call
that would never come. The last revenue freight pulled by a BigBoy was July of 1959. "The 10 that saw action are to
be commended, though, for their spectacular show once again on the Hill. It was grand and glorious and a little sad, knowing
this was the last. For the symbol had fallen and the prophets were right, over the great forty-eight steam was gone. One of
this great race should be forever enshrined for posterity at the root of Sherman Hill." (Joe G. Collias, The Last of
Steam). Most were then retired in 1961 after lying and waiting, the last one retired July of 1962. Until September of
1962, 4 were still in fully operational condition, sleeping in Cheyenne...