Welcome to part two - and coincidentally, day two - of chasing the Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 across the Midwest! If you haven't read part one, I recommend it - I'm just gonna jump straight into things. Here's a link to part one if you missed it: Link
The Union Pacific certainly has a thing for Great Races - which certainly makes sense, as chasing down their trains certainly is a race!
Throughout July and early August this year, the Big Boy #4014 embarked on its second journey - called "The Great Race Across The Midwest." The locomotive visited Minneapolis, Duluth, Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, North Platte, and many, many towns and cities along the way. It took routes a Big Boy has never once travelled before, making it a prime opportunity to chase. Of course, it was about a full month, so there was no way I was to be able to follow it the way I did during the Great Race To Ogden because it was prohibitively expensive (as we all know from the Ogden trip...) and getting that much time off work was difficult.
Nevertheless, I managed to secure a short trip - July 30th & the 31st. The route for these two days was simple: West Chicago to Cedar Rapids on the 30th, then Cedar Rapids to Des Moines on the 31st. In Part 1, we'll cover the first day, the 30th, and the ridiculousness that was chasing a Big Boy in Illinois & Iowa.
Going back to the beginning of the Great Race To Ogden, there was one particularly early day in the schedule. Specifically, May 6th, 2019 - when the Union Pacific #4014 & #844 left Rock Springs, Wy at 4:00AM. This was because it allowed them to get around scheduled track maintenance - but more importantly, this caused the train to go through morning light.
Of course, before it could be seen in said light, it had to actually leave Rock Springs. At four in the morning.
So, leaving our hotel somewhere around 3:45AM, we headed over to the yard in Rock Springs to take a quick peak at the giant locomotive and its smaller - yet still sizable - companion in the darkness.
Now, I am not a night-time photographer - I don't claim to be. My photos have a bit of grain and often some shakiness from longer exposures, so they're not perfect. I never really planned to do night shots - and my flash refused to fire for whatever reason! So they're a tad bit weird. Still, I grabbed as many as I could in the little time we had.
I am very glad I did.
Hundreds, even thousands, of pieces of railroad history are lucky enough to be saved and cared for, many restored cosmetically, operationally, or even just sitting quiet in a collection. Unfortunately, not everything has that luxury, and many pieces of history have been lost or have nearly been lost, and others sure feel lost. One such example is a little place called Loweth, Montana.
Something I mentioned briefly in my last post was this quote: "On May 17th, we got to return to the bridge after a rather grueling day in Hanna." Why was it such a grueling day, you might be wondering?
I won't lie to you - it's actually just one bridge. However, it was two separate visits to that bridge that made for one unforgettable pair of stories.
During the Great Race To Ogden, we stopped along a variety of places along the road and in just as many towns, but one spot sticks out in particular - a bridge in roughly, well, the middle of nowhere. Between the towns of Medicine Bow and Hanna, Wyoming sits a bridge that crosses over Union Pacific's transcontinental main, and it was here that many, many photographers wanted to get a few pictures of the UP #4014. We got the shots, but it was certainly not as easy as you'd think.
To get an understanding of what I mean when I say the middle of nowhere, I really mean it. From Google Maps, we can understand where we are pretty quickly.
The journey from Cheyenne to Ogden and back was unlike any other for a myriad of reasons, but one of them was the opportunity to get alongside the legendary Union Pacific #4014 while it was in motion. The trick was getting up there! Because so many other people wanted to the same thing, it was tough to get close at all. However, we did manage it multiple times throughout the journey. It was truly exhilarating to be able to do, and certainly not easy at times! So, now, we look at some of the highlights of getting side by side the Union Pacific Big Boy, #4014.
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