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UP's 'Big Boy' hitting the rails again; only Illinois stop is Chester

  • Crowds press for a good look at Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotive 4014 in West Chicago, Illinois.

    Crowds press for a good look at Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotive 4014 in West Chicago, Illinois.
    Joe Lewnard/Daily Herald News Service

  • The rear car of the train running behind steam locomotive 4014, when it was in West Chicago.

    The rear car of the train running behind steam locomotive 4014, when it was in West Chicago.
    Joe Lewnard/Daily Herald News Service

 
Du Quoin Call staff report
updated: 8/6/2021 5:26 PM

The Union Pacific is taking one of its 800 Class steam locomotives out of the barn and putting it back out on tour for a month, and Chester is on the itinerary.

The UP's "Big Boys" were the largest steam locomotives in the world, as well as the most modern and powerful. Twenty-five were built for the UP, starting in 1941. At 132 feet long and 1.2 million pounds, the frames of the Big Boys were articulated to allow them to negotiate curves.

On Saturday, Aug. 28, Big Boy #4014 will rumble into Chester at 1:25 p.m. and stay for 30 minutes before heading for St. Louis. While in Chester it will stop at Rock Bridge Road and Water Street, site of the old depot. Accordng to UP spokeswoman Robyn Tysver, #4014 will be pulling several passenger cars from the UP's Heritage fleet.

No boarding of the train is permitted and people are asked to stand back at least 25 feet from the tracks. The UP suggests that the riverfront will make an excellent viewing spot.

Bob Lockhart at the Chester Welcome Center suggests out of town visitors will want to park in the riverfront lot used when the riverboats come to town. Take Route 150 (State Street) west to the Randolph County Courthouse, turn left and then jog around onto Buena Vista Road, which goes down the hill to the old depot.

Lots of rail fans are expected, so patience is urged.

According to the UP, Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941 and was retired in December with 1,031,205 miles to its credit. In 2013, Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California and brought it to Cheyenne, Wyoming for a multiyear restoration process.

No. 4014 returned to service in May 2019 in time for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Once No. 4014 leaves Chester it goes to St. Louis where on Sunday, Aug. 29 the engine will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The train will be at Poplar Street and South 16th Street in St. Louis, near the Gateway Transportation Center.

The monthlong tour began Aug. 5, when No. 4014 left Cheyenne, Wyoming. By the time the Big Boy gets to Denver, its last stop, on Labor Day, Sept. 6, it will have traveled through or touched Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.