Union Pacific is providing a limited number of tours of its steam shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for a rare chance to see the beginnings of the first transcontinental railroads.
Cheyenne, Wyoming, is home to two of the 25 Big Boy locomotives exclusively built for Union Pacific Railroad. Weighing in at 1.2 million pounds and stretching as long as 132 feet, Big Boy locomotives were revolutionary in terms of reliability and safety and expanding the American West. Now railroad buffs have the opportunity to see a part of history and one of the largest steam locomotives in the world.
Normally only accessible to the public once a year, the Union Pacific steam shop will be open for a limited number of tours on select dates in November 2016 and January, February, and March 2017. The 15 scheduled tours — guided by Ed Dickens, senior manager of heritage operations — give visitors an exclusive look at the roundhouse (constructed in 1931), the turntable (constructed in 1941), and the machine shop (constructed in 1919). Due to their unique engineering attributes designed for the maintenance and storage of steam locomotives, they are significant in the history and continued development of the first transcontinental railroad.
The biggest attraction on the tour is Big Boy No. 4014, a massive train delivered to the Union Pacific in December 1941. After 1,031,205 miles and 20 years of operation, the train was retired and donated to the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society in Pomona, California, where it resided in Fairfax until 2013. Today, visitors can see the four-cylinder steam locomotive at the steam shop, where the iron horse is currently undergoing one of the largest locomotive restoration processes in 50 years. The train is expected to be back in working order in 2019, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The steam shop also includes other major components of the UP Steam Fleet, such as the Challenger 3985 and the 844 Steam Engine.
Tickets include admission to the Cheyenne Depot Museum and trolley transportation to the steam shop, where UP workers will showcase their work on the steam engines. Tours start at 12:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday afternoons on the following dates:
* November — 4, 11, and 18
* January — 6, 13, 20, and 28
* February — 3, 10, 17, and 25
* March — 3, 10, 17, and 25
For more information, visit the Union Pacific website.