October 6, 2019

Chasing the UP4014

It was a fun afternoon in rural Utah.  Although there was a stiff breeze, the weather was just right for train chasing.

After 71 years I’m still fascinated with the sound of trains.  I hear the steady thump, thump of the wheels and the soft wheezy whistle only a steam engine can produce.

UP 4014 is on a run around the western US Union Pacific calls “The Great Race Across the Southwest”.  Part of that route is in our backyard (so to speak).  We drove to the cutoff to Kanosh from SR257.  There’s a Railroad Crossing there and UP4014 (AKA Big Boy) would come down from Delta and on to Milford.

Big Boy at Kanosh
Big Boy at Kanosh Crossing

I got a few good shots as he came by at about 50 MPH (or what one Railroad buff called ‘track speed’).  He was meeting a buddy from Calif and had plans to chase Big Boy from the Depot in Caliente, Nevada through Rainbow Canyon and on to Vegas. 

Train to Milford
Chasing to Milford, Utah

We joined the chase from there to Milford, where it would spend the night.  It was more of a caravan than a chase.  There must have been over a hundred cars and we picked up more as we got closer to Milford. We got a good parking spot and walked to the Depot.  It was packed by the time Big Boy got there and close-up photos were not going to be possible (we both love to take images for black and whites of gears, pulleys, etc.).

Milford Stop

Took a few shots of old downtown Milford and headed home.  I had started with a 7 AM appointment and it was time for food and my recliner. 

Next day was another chance to photograph the largest operating steam engine in the world.  The Facebook page Union Pacific put together has ended up being a collection of images, reports, statistics and just general information.  One man posted a link to a Popular Mechanics article on UP4014 full of wonderful information and specs.

The trip to Modena, Ut was about an hour and we were an hour early so we could scope out a good place to photograph from.  By chance, we ended up in Devil’s Gulch.  The videographer from Trains.com was on the bluff next to Tracy.  I was down below shooting towards the overpass built in 1928.  Was it long enough to hold Big Boy by itself?  The photo tells it all.

Devils Gap

We went from there to Holt Canyon for a picnic lunch and rock hunting Agate.  All in all it was a lovely weekend and the sound of the whistle will always take me back to Kansas as a child.   I could hear the whoof of the wheels and the long sweet whistle once again – a little peace in a raucous world.