BENSON — Get ready for Big Boy.
Union Pacific Railroad’s massive steam engine aptly dubbed “ ‘Big Boy’ No. 4014” will be making a stop in Benson Saturday, Oct. 19 with a huge turnout expected.
So much so authorities have announced intersection closures before the expected 8:45 a.m. arrival at the Benson Visitors Center “Depot,” although UPRR points out times and scheduling are subject to change.
Big Boy arrives in Benson after an early morning departure from Tucson on Saturday as part of Union Pacific’s “Great Race Across the Southwest.”
“It’s really something,” said Bob Nilson of the city’s visitor center and noted railroad enthusiast of the world’s only operating Big Boy steam engine. “It’s an incredible piece of machinery, and an important piece of history in our country… those steam engines are absolutely awesome.” Nilson discussed Big Boy’s impending visit during the recent Benson Pony Express Western Days.
The Benson stop is part of Big Boy’s tour of the UPRR system commemorating the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The tour runs from Cheyenne to Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado ending in Cheyenne.
There will be no public access allowed on the train which will be at the Patagonia Street crossing for about half an hour.
Delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941 as one of 25 steamers, No. 4014 was retired in Dec. 1961 having logged 1,031,205 miles and 20 years of service. That’s according to Union Pacific Railroad event literature.
UPRR and Benson have historically enjoyed a partnership of sorts with the railroad helping to shape the city from its railtown origins.
“Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, Calif., in 2013 to begin a multi-year restoration process. It returned to service in May 2019…”
Twenty five Big Boy engines were built for UPRR, specifically for the difficult and steep terrain for the run from Utah to Wyoming. There are seven Big Boys on public display in St. Louis, M.i; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Neb.; Denver, Colo.; Scranton, Pa., Green Bay, Wis.; and Cheyenne, Wyo.
The locomotive was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service. Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California, in 2013, and relocated it back to Cheyenne to begin a multi-year restoration process. It returned to service in May 2019 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion.
Union Pacific strongly encourages visitors to keep safety top of mind while viewing and photographing No. 4014 on its journey. For everyone’s safety:
Remember, trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks. A train’s distance and speed can be deceiving. The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet — take extra precaution and stand back at least 25 feet. Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and right of way are private property. Never assume tracks are abandoned or inactive — always expect a train.