The Railway Magazine

The ‘Big Boy’ returns in style!

MANY would argue that an‘A4’is the most iconic steam engine in the UK, and there is no doubt the Union Pacific‘Big Boy’takes that accolade in North America.

Twenty five of the class were built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) for Union Pacific (UP) between 1941 and 1944. Originally, the engines were supposed to be called‘Wasatch’ after the mountain range they were designed to conquer, until some wag in the ALCO factory scrawled‘Big Boy’on the boiler. The name stuck!

The locomotives, complete with tenders, weighed in at 600 tons and were 132ft long. They ran on low-quality Wyoming coal from UP-owned mines, generating about 7,000HP. They were capable of a maximum speed of 80mph, as they hauled 4,000-ton freight trains between Cheyenne and Ogden until

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