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Historic railway vehicles: the Big Boy locomotive

Historic railway vehicles: the Big Boy locomotive
photo: Wikipedia/,_4-8-8-4_%22Big_Boy%22_Ready_for_restoration.jpg/the Big Boy locomotive
04 / 12 / 2021

The Big Boy locomotive is considered the largest steam locomotive and is a unique global giant. At the same time, it serves as a size gauge decades after its invention. One of these locomotives got restored two years ago, allowing it to be back on the rails after a long time. Locomotives of this class got built by ALCO. They got created for the American Union Pacific locomotive company from 1941-1944. A total of 25 units got produced in two series.

Each piece weighs 548.2 t, measures 5 m in height and 40.4 in length, and reaches speeds of up to 128 km/h. The locomotives were primarily intended to be used at the head of heavy freight trains traveling over rock mountains since they could carry loads such as a 4000t freight train up a 90 km upward climbs. After the switch to diesel traction, up to five ordinary locomotives had to replace one Big Boy.

Their service got discontinued in 1959, and the remaining examples became museum exhibits. Eight units have survived to this day. In 2019, Union Pacific placed Engine No. 4014 back into service, allowing it to return to the rails after a multi-year shutdown. The work took more than six years.