The railfan community has been buzzing for the last few months as Union Pacific has reacquired steam locomotive UP 4014 from Rail Giants exhibit of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society at LA County Fairgrounds (I have never accepted the new "Fairplex" desgnation). UP workers have already done some preliminary work, and the 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" is expected to leave Pomona for Cheyenne Wyoming sometime after the Fair season closes on Sept. 29. There was a question on the Gold Line Foothill Extension board wondering whether engine would go to the UP East LA facility for final preparation before the long haul, or would it be made ready at the Fairgrounds, moved to the Metrolink San Bernardino Line over temporary track, and then moved directly to Cheyenne. Remembering that when it came to the Fairgrounds in 1961, it was routed over the old Pacific Electric tracks that were torn out and replaced by Metrolink in 1991-92. At least it has much more robust track for the planned relocation Now the question is: Will it go east to San Bernardino, and transfer to the BNSF line over Cajon Pass there, or will it go west to Bassett, reverse direction, go east to Montclair over the former SP, transfer to the UP (ex LA and SL) at Montclair, and get on the BNSF at Riverside? Presumably it will go on the BNSF to Daggett, where it will switch to UP rails for the trip to Wyoming. There are other possible routings, but one would think that a special move like this would follow the shortest practicable route.
Last Edit: Aug 22, 2013 21:59:56 GMT -8 by bobdavis
That would indicate that it will go to Bassett, and "swap ends" there. From West Colton, it could go over the Colton-Palmdale Cutoff and transfer to BNSF in Cajon Pass; there used to be an intertie track somewhere near Summit.
There are two interchange tracks between the Colton-Palmdale line and BNSF, Keenbrook, which is near the I-15/I-215 junction (Devore area), and Silverwood, which is near Summit. The other way would be to go east from W. Colton to the Colton crossing, which now has an overpass taking UP over the BNSF. There's probably still an interchange track to the BNSF but I'm not sure what shape it's in.
Post by Alexis Kasperavičius on Oct 7, 2013 13:11:00 GMT -8
Apparently they're starting some work on the 4014 in Pomona and had to lubricate other engines to get them to move out of the way. Here are some videos that were just uploaded by the guy running the project - interesting tidbits. This is a list of videos, so it's a link:
Current speculation has it moving on Thanksgiving Day weekend, when Metrolink traffic is fairly light. UP has already brought in the panel track segments which will be deployed to get 4014 back to "live" rail.
UP 4014 is now at the north end of the parking lot, and the UP crew will be getting it into position for the big transfer move. Right now the engine is oriented roughly north and south; it will need to be more east and west to go onto the Metrolink track. According to an on-site UP representative, it will not be moving onto "live" rail until next month.
Post by Alexis Kasperavičius on Nov 25, 2013 1:44:51 GMT -8
By David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin POSTED: 11/14/13
In midcentury, No. 4014, the world’s largest steam locomotive, traveled up to 70 mph, hauling freight over the mountains between Wyoming and Utah along the intercontinental railroad.
On Thursday, after a half-century of retirement, the Big Boy was on the move again — inches at a time, and under tow.
Movement was almost imperceptible, but the train was pulled 1,000 feet in 90 minutes — roughly 0.13 mph — along temporary track at Fairplex in Pomona, to the excitement of rail fans and railroad officials.
Built in 1941 and operating until 1959, the Big Boy, as it’s known, arrived at the Rail Giants train museum on the fairgrounds in 1962, a gift from Union Pacific. Now the railroad is reclaiming the locomotive, with the blessing of the museum, with a plan to restore it and operate it as a passenger train for nostalgia trips.
At 132 feet in length and 1.2 million pounds in girth, it’s not only a Big Boy, it’s a bad boy.
“It’s like an industrial age dinosaur coming back to life,” marveled Jim Wrinn, editor of Trains Magazine, who traveled from Waukesha, Wis., to cover the story, which for his readers is international news.
Wrinn set up a camera to stream video to his website, trainsmag.com, on Wednesday. Given the slow progress, this might seem akin to watching live video of paint drying. But in its first 24 hours, his live webcam had been viewed several thousand times by rail fans across the United States and in Europe.
It’s news, Wrinn explained, because the eight surviving Big Boys are inoperable, and rail experts for years had insisted that restoring one to working order was impractical. And yet, here one was, on its way.
“For rail fans, this is nothing short of a miracle,” Wrinn said. “It’s the biggest thing to happen in rail preservation since the American Freedom Train in 1976,” he added, referring to the 20-car train that traveled across America with artifacts to celebrate the Bicentennial.
I appreciated the perspective. For me, it’s a local story. I saw the Big Boy in July for a column on its impending move. I was there Thursday for this followup.
Word of the photo opportunity had spread among rail fans. Steven Ricotta, 18, of Upland was there with his dad, Rick. The younger Ricotta enjoys taking photos and videos of trains. As we spoke, a friend from San Diego phoned him to inquire about the progress.
“It’s nice to see this thing move,” Steven told me. “It’s beautiful.”
Ed Dickens thinks so too. He’s the senior manager of Union Pacific’s heritage operations. He’s leading a crew of eight in getting the Big Boy ready.
They’ve made small repairs which nonetheless have required disassembling heavy pieces of the complex machinery and then reassembling them.
“You’re looking at state of the art steam technology,” Dickens said fondly. “It looks old, but it’s in good shape, and the core machine is sound.”
Two smaller locomotives had to be moved to clear a path for the Big Boy’s move, which will take the locomotive northwest across the Fairplex parking lot and National Hot Rod Association grounds to the Metrolink tracks.
Dickens’ crew is laying temporary track atop plywood to protect the asphalt. The train will travel a total of one mile. After its short journey Thursday, the track behind the train would be disassembled and then reassembled in front of it for another short journey.
Because Fairplex needs the property for various events, building a full length of track for the days-long pull was deemed a nonstarter.
“We have to use this leapfrog technique,” Dickens said. He didn’t seem to mind. The Colorado man said he was enjoying the Pomona sunshine and joked that he wouldn’t mind stretching out the job until next June.
Dickens expects to have the locomotive up to the Metrolink tracks near Arrow Highway and White Avenue by early next week. The Big Boy will rest there a few days while the crew goes home to see their families.
From there, the locomotive will be towed west on Metrolink tracks to a junction, then travel Union Pacific tracks to Colton for more repairs before eventually heading to Cheyenne, Wyo., for a projected four years of restoration.
As we spoke, an older gent in classic pinstriped engineer overalls came up and told Perkins he’d like to show him photos of his Big Boy. I think he meant a model, but still, this could be a new tack for Anthony Wiener.
Members of the Southern California Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, which operates the museum, have a mix of emotions: thrilled to see the train in motion, optimistic about its restoration but personally a little sentimental.
Paul Guercio knows the Big Boy better than almost anyone. He’s been volunteering on its restoration since 1989, joined a year or two later by Rick Brown.
Guercio, a chemical engineer for Exxon, knew about the Big Boy from childhood, and the museum was one of his first stops when the company transferred him here from Virginia. He signed up with the society and was soon given keys to the gates so he could spend weekends working on the Big Boy.
Little had been done from 1962 to 1989. “Ashes and cinders were still in the firebox and smokebox,” Guercio said. He and Brown donated thousands of hours to cleaning the sandbox, firebox and smokebox, greasing and lubing parts, and cleaning the cab for visitors. Some of those activities retarded rust and rot.
Dickens said the duo’s attention to the boiler, more than anything else, kept the Big Boy in good enough condition that restoration was deemed feasible.
Now 62, Guercio began tending to the Big Boy when he was 38. He said he almost wondered if he were dreaming when he saw the train in motion Thursday. He welcomes Union Pacific’s plans for the Big Boy.
“A lot more people will see it when it’s out operating than will ever see it here,” Guercio said. “But it’s still a little bit of a bittersweet moment.”
Post by Alexis Kasperavičius on Dec 2, 2013 9:00:55 GMT -8
Found on the web:
The person securing the site for UP (keeping folks behind the orange cones) told me that the people working to move the engine would be leaving11/25 for Cheyenne to spend Thanksgiving with family,
A UP employee from the steam program was saying it won't move out to West Colton until Sunday Dec 22. They are waiting for the SD40, reefer and bay window caboose so they can move them in and the 4014 out at the same time. It was to be in the middle of the night, but now local mayors, etc. want to make it a ceremony and Metrolink is going along with it for the publicity.
They will detour their trains. It will stop every 20 miles or so for greasing, and be in W. Colton a fairly short time. They will tow with big road diesels front and rear, and pull the "hospital train" with parts and staff to fix it along the way. 30 mph max, and it will be a railfan zoo in Cajon, when it passes through there.
Mainly they are waiting on the SD40 which is delayed being painted in Little Rock, AR Possible viewing Dec. 14-15 as the railgiants museum is open this weekend see their webpage for more info at
Latest word on the 4014 move: Expected to be out of the Fairgrounds and onto Metrolink early AM on Sunday Jan 26. Display at the Metrolink Covina station 7 to 8 AM, then on to UP (ex-SP) West Colton Yard, where it will spend several weeks being readied for the long haul to Cheyenne.
This is indeed what happened. The 4014 was hauled by UP 1996 (the Southern Pacific "tribute" unit) and UP 4884 (how appropriate!) taking it from Pomona to Bassett tender-first, and then reversing to haul it along the former SP Los Angeles to Yuma main line to West Colton Yard. UP was considering using diesel 4014 for the move, but this unit is down for repairs back in Arkansas. As far as I know, normal Metrolink traffic has resumed and life has returned to normal.
Part of the UP historic locomotive crew was at the Fairgrounds this afternoon, running the engine of UP 3104, the SD 40 which will be on display in the RailGiants exhibit. It's sitting on the track which, two days ago, held Big Boy 4014. The Metrolink track is back together, and I observed two trains running through the transfer spot at what appeared to be normal speed. The only clue that "something happened" is a couple of fresh welded spots and a few new rail clips.
Sunday morning at 0-dark-30, this location was thronged by wall-to-wall railfans and other observers. These photos show the same location now that the Big Boy is safely ensconced in the West Colton Yard.
1) Metrolink 327 goes past the cutover spot like nothing ever happened there. The concrete pad is the Metrolink Fairplex stop used for special occasions only.
2) Here's where the rail was cut to connect with the UP's temporary track that would put UP 4014 back on main-line rails for the first time in over 50 years.
Post by Alexis Kasperavičius on Jan 29, 2014 16:07:03 GMT -8
Here's a good collection of video shots from the first Big Boy move - much of it at speed, which is surprising - I thought they would take this thing very slowly. Anyway, here 'tis: Starting at the Metrolink station with many passing shots, over bridges, crossings, finally entering the Union Pacific yard with a blast of the whistle: Big boy is back.