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Union Pacific Big Boy 4014

Big Boy 4014 The Largest Operating Steam Engine In The World

Big Boy 4014 south of St. Louis

It began with a beautiful morning. The date was Saturday July 28, 2021. I knew from the published time table the train powered by Big Boy 4014 would be coming north from Chester Illinois sometime after 3pm. My faithful side kick (arm still broken) and I “struck” out to find a good vantage point to photograph this historical moment.

From Columbia Illinois I turned west, hoping to find some train tracks before we ran into the Mississippi River. My instincts served me well. The tracks crossed the road in a little berg called Fountain. From there we followed the bottoms road south, taking all the side roads west looking for a crossing with a clear view. I wanted to be on the west side of the tracks because the afternoon sun would light the train.

We worked our way down to Valmeyer Illinois and after evaluating all of our options chose the Ziebold Road crossing to stake our claim. But since it was only noon, we made our way up to Waterloo (10 miles east) where we found some refreshment and good food at the Hopskeller Brewery. Patty and I both recommend it!

I Am An Old Trainman

Photo Circa 1977

Trains hold a romantic fascination for people and they are a large part of our history as America became a united nation.

I am an old trainman. I worked for the Union Pacific Rail Road from 1974-1979 as a switchman / brakeman. My job was to “conduct the movement of trains, engines or cars”. The photo was taken in the train yard in Cheyenne Wyoming as I was working as switchman that day. At other times I’ve worked the main line, either on the front end or in the caboose. I’m glad I had the experience.

More Photos

Patty and I got back down to our chosen crossing about 2pm. By then a small crowd was beginning to form waiting for a glimpse of Americana to steam by. Here are some more photos.

Closing Thought

Because life is short and full of challenges, side trips like this bring us pleasure and strength to get through the rough patches. Patty was scheduled for surgery the next Monday to repair her arm, and they told us it wasn’t going to be easy. I’m happy to report that as of this publishing, we are over the hump and on to rehab.

My closing thought is an exhortation to take heed unto yourself and to enjoy those special moments when they present themselves. There is more to life than being goal oriented and driven. Make sure to take some time to be human.

Thanks for dropping by. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the box below.


13 thoughts on “Union Pacific Big Boy 4014

  1. I love this Mike! Great story and I had no idea you worked for Union Pacific! Your talent with photography is impressive and I’ve learned about a new place to stop in while in Waterloo!

    1. Back then we fondly referred to our employer as “Uncle Pete”. And yes, you won’t be disappointed with Hopskeller.

  2. Wow! That is so cool!

    1. That’s where I get some of my coolness from! Did you know if you include your website with your comment, it creates a link back to you? That’s pretty cool too!

  3. Love these –
    Looking forward to little side trips like this in the future with my man. Thanks for the inspiration

    1. You are welcome Angela. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  4. Those are such beautiful pics. That is such an amazing piece of machinery. I am so glad your sidekick was able to join you on this adventure.

    1. Yes! Thank you Angie.

  5. These pictures are amazing! My boys are hoping you make some of your outstanding artwork from these. They love them!

    1. I’m just an old train man glad to see a smile on a kids face. I’ve got these in print…

  6. Love the pictures. I missed the event so I am glad you captured it and shared it with us.

    1. Thank you Kevin

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