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The Iconic Big Boy Locomotive: A Steam Giant Reborn

The Iconic Big Boy Locomotive: A Steam Giant Reborn
foto: ALCO, Big Boy/The Iconic Big Boy Locomotive: A Steam Giant Reborn
23 / 05 / 2023

The Big Boy is considered the largest steam locomotive in the world, and even decades after its inception, it retains its primacy in size. Two years ago, one of these unique machines was restored and put back on the rails.

The Big Boy class locomotives were built between 1941 and 1944 at the ALCO locomotive works for the American Union Pacific. A total of 25 were built in two series. Each locomotive weighed a staggering 548.2 tons, reaching a height of 5 meters and a length of 40.4 meters. It could reach speeds of up to 128 km/h.

These locomotives were primarily designed to pull heavy freight trains over rocky mountains, as they were capable of carrying extreme loads, such as 4,000 tonnes on a 90 km long climb. The conversion to diesel traction required replacing up to five conventional locomotives with one Big Boy. These locomotives ceased operation in 1959, and the remaining examples became museum exhibits. Only eight have survived to this day.

In 2019, Union Pacific restarted the operation of locomotive number 4014, which has undergone a lengthy restoration process. After more than six years of work, this majestic machine was once again ready to hit the rails and remind us of the glorious era of steam locomotives.

Source: Steam Locomotive, Big Boy