Giant steam locomotive makes stops in Louisiana on 10-state tour | Wyoming News

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The world’s largest operating steam locomotive is making multiple whistle stops in Louisiana and overnight stays in two cities as part of a 10-state tour.

Big Boy No. 4014 will be on display Saturday in New Orleans, arriving Friday evening and departing Sunday morning returning to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Before leaving Louisiana he will also spend a night in Shreveport.

“It’s the largest steam locomotive ever built by Union Pacific and it’s the only one in service today,” Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Mike Jaixen told The American Press.

Measuring over 130 feet (nearly 40 meters) long — longer than two city buses — and weighing 560 tons (508 metric tons), the Big Boy locomotives are generally accepted as the largest steam locomotives ever built, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The most powerful, however, was a tank engine built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1916 for the Virginian Railway, according to Guinness.

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The American Locomotive Co. built 25 Big Boys for Union Pacific in the 1940s to haul freight over Utah’s Wasatch Mountains on a route between Wyoming and Utah.

Eight remain. The others are all in museums, Jaixen said.

No. 4014 was retired in 1961. It underwent a five-year refurbishment for a year-long run in 2019 to mark the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railway.

This year’s tour includes whistle stops lasting 15 to 45 minutes in over 90 communities.

“The whistles give people a chance to briefly see the locomotive, while crews carry out routine maintenance,” Jaixen said.

The outgoing route crossed Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. From Louisiana, the train returns to Texas, then crosses Arkansas and Missouri, spending some time on tracks close to the Illinois state line and stopping in Illinois before crossing into Kansas and part of Colorado.

The train’s first stops in Louisiana will be Thursday at Lake Charles, Kinder and Opelousas, according to the online schedule. It will stop briefly Friday and Sunday in Plaquemine, Donaldsonville and Luling. On Monday it will pass through Bunkie and Natchitoches en route to Shreveport, where it will pass on Tuesday.

People will be able to visit a carriage in New Orleans on Saturday — a trip in those carriages to Plaquemine is full — but the train must be viewed from outside in Shreveport, according to the online schedule.

Jaixen said spectators are welcome to take photos at the whistle stops but must stay at least 25 feet from the tracks. The train is so tall that the best photos are 25 to 50 feet, he noted.

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Jose P. Rogers