Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 set to stop in Pilot Point
Union Pacific Railroad is sending its Big Boy Steam Engine No.4014 on a heritage tour through part of the southern states it services later this summer.
It will leave Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Aug. 5 and travel through Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas before returning to Wyoming. The steam engine will be making a stop in Pilot Point on its tour.
Union Pacific usually sends its steam engines out on heritage tours yearly to reconnect people to the railroad’s legacy that was such a part of America’s history.
“People love to see the old locomotive. It brings back a sense of nostalgia and heritage,” said Mike Jaixen, UP senior manager of communications.
Union Pacific was “founded July 1, 1862, when President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act, Union Pacific has been building America for more than 150 years.”
It would be 1865 before Union Pacific would lay its first tracks. The first transcontinental railroad would finish at Promontory Point in Utah when the Union Pacific No. 119 and Central Pacific Jupiter met, and the golden spike was driven in on May 10, 1869.
It would take another 12 years later before the rail would make its way through Pilot Point.
Texas State Historical Association states, “[Texas Pacific Railroad] also resumed construction of its Trans-Continental Division from Sherman west to Fort Worth,  miles, which was placed in service on May 9, 1881.”
Pilot Point sits on this line of track.
With this expansion of rail to Dallas, subsequent areas began an explosive growth. Pilot Point’s population grew by 38% from 790 in 1880 to 1,090 in 1890, according to US Census records.
The brief stop in Pilot Point is scheduled for Aug. 13 from 3:45-4 p.m. at the Liberty Street crossing.
“The crew will get out of the locomotive, and they will perform routine maintenance service,” said Jaixen. “There may be an opportunity to wave at the crew.”
The following day, people will be able to purchase tickets during the steam engine’s display stop in Fort Worth. Tickets will allow people to enter the Experience the Union Pacific Rail Car. Union Pacific’s website describes it as a “brand new, multi-media walk-through exhibition” where people can learn more about the history of Union Pacific.
The locomotive will travel during daylight hours with stops along the way for crews to sleep in the evening hours.
Big Boy No. 4014 began service in 1941. It primarily operated between Wyoming and Utah, before it was retired in 1961. It was then displayed at RailGiants Train Museum in Pomona, California, until it was reacquired in 2013.
In 2019, Big Boy No. 4014 returned to service as one of the locomotives used in the reenactment at Ogden Union Station to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Point.
Jaixen said the whistle will sound completely different from the diesel whistles usually heard along the line in Pilot Point and Aubrey.
When asked about the necessity of the whistle as trains make their way through area towns, Jaixen explained it is a federally mandated safety measure that trains must sound at crossings.
However, in areas with several crossings in close proximity train, engineers may sound longer horn patterns because they need to be heard at all crossings.
“We understand that [the whistle] has a definite impact but it is a federal safety requirement and it’s something that we support because safety is our number one objective,” Jaixen said.
People can visit www.up.com/heritage/steam/ to check out the Union Pacific’s heritage page.
On the website, people can sign up for steam updates as well as be invited to special social media pages about the steam engine and its tour.