Chasing Steam: U.P. “Big Boy” #4014 & U.P. #844 in Wyoming, Part 2 – Evanston

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Big Boy – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Part 1: Richardson Draw

After leaving Richardson Draw, we followed the line of cars to Evanston, Wyoming, to watch the big steam locomotives chug into town. This is where the Union Pacific “Big Boy” #4014 and U.P. #844 were going to park for the rest of the day. I had a couple of ideas where a good spot to watch and photograph the action might be, but ended up going with the crowd to the Walmart parking lot, which turned out to be a decent enough location. There was a large group already gathered when we arrived.

It didn’t take long for the steam train to appear and gradually crawl closer. It was moving much slower this time. The train soon came to a stop and the crew climbed down out of the locomotive cab. There were conversations among the railroad employees. Some of them began to move some large rocks out of a rock pile that was next to the tracks near the front of the Big Boy. Apparently, because the #4014 is so large and swings so wide on curves, they didn’t think it would clear the rocks. We watched a little while, then headed for some breakfast, as it was now late-morning and we had not eaten.

After breakfast, we found the train parked just a little ways down from the rock pile. This is where the railroad would park it overnight. A group of spectators were gathered around the train snapping pictures and taking in the sight. My kids enjoyed seeing the steam locomotives up close. They could feel the heat and see steam escaping from different places on the engines. There were members of the steam crew busily working, doing all sorts of different jobs. I imagine that it takes much effort to maintain a large steam engine. There’s a lot more to do than just park it and extinguish the fire. I was fascinated by this aspect of the operation and focused my photographic attention towards that. My favorite pictures are those of the crew doing their different jobs. I would love to spend more time and energy capturing those types of images. Soon it was time to drive home, and our Big Boy adventure came to a close.

I used a Fujifilm X-T20 (my wife’s, actually) with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens and a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens to capture these pictures. It was a good call to avoid changing lenses as there was a lot of dust, especially at Richardson Draw. I’m pretty happy with the photographs that I captured. I felt like I did the best that I could with what I had. If there was more time available to me, perhaps I could have found the train in better light and in a more interesting location. Still, I think I managed to create at least a few interesting pictures that are different from those captured by others. I feel like my images tell a story. That was the point: to have a story to tell about this historic event. Not only do I have that story in pictures, but my kids have it in their minds, and they will carry it with them for many years to come.

Steam Crew (Color)

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Climbing Down From The Cab – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Discussing The Big Issue – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Three Railroaders & A Big Boy – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Discourse – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Moving Rocks – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Steam Maintainers – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Oil Containers – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Carrying Hoses – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Hose Work – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Tender Latch – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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It Takes Two – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Teamwork – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Greasework – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Steam Crew (B&W)

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Thirsty – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Engineer Reaching – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Water Test – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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The Engineer – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Steam Conductor – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Shop Talk – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Climbing Aboard – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Evanston Steam (Color)

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Safety First – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Boy X4014 – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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U.P. 844 Bucket – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Evanston Steam (B&W)

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Union Pacific X4014 – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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844 Bell – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Steam Above Steel – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Boy Wheels – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Circles – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Steampunk – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Dripping Hot Water – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Big Steam Machine – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Onlookers

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Waiting For The Steam Train – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Viewing The Giant – Evanston, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Chasing Steam: U.P. “Big Boy” #4014 & U.P. #844 in Wyoming, Part 1 – Richardson Draw

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Union Pacific 4014 & 844 – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

The sun had not yet risen when we left the house in the early morning hours of May 6, 2019. My family and I were on our way to witness a bit of history: the newly restored Union Pacific “Big Boy” steam locomotive #4014 on its way from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Ogden, Utah, for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. This was a big deal because the restoration of the Big Boy, which was the largest steam locomotive ever built, had just finished a couple of days before. The locomotive had not run in 60 years! Up until five years ago it sat in a museum for decades in Los Angeles. Now it was finally operational and, along with the steam-powered Union Pacific #844, on the move westward. It had departed well before sunrise, and if we were going to witness the massive locomotive in action, we too had to depart before sunrise.

This was not going to be our first time witnessing the #4014 or the #844. My son, Jon, and I saw the Big Boy in Barstow, California, when they were moving it east for restoration. My whole family, minus the youngest who was not born yet, saw the #844 in Ogden when it was brought out for an excursion a couple of years ago. This was going to be our first time to witness both of these locomotives together, and also our first time to observe the #4014 under its own steam power. We were pretty excited for this adventure!

I did some research prior to the trip and had a good plan regarding where to catch the train in rural Wyoming. I noticed a place east of Evanston right off of I-80 where the tracks cross under the freeway, and a dirt road follows the rails for a little while. I figured this to be our best bet to set up and wait. This location, which is in the middle of nowhere, is called Richardson Draw. Despite its rural location, Richardson Draw had already drawn a large crowd when we arrived. In addition to all the cars, trucks and RVs, we spotted two buses. I picked what I felt would be the best spot at Richardson Draw to capture pictures and we waited for the train to arrive.

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American Steam & Steel – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

When attempting to capture a well-photographed subject, the struggle is to make something that’s different from all of the other thousands of pictures of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a person, place, thing or idea, if it has been heavily photographed, capturing something unique is a difficult task, yet that is exactly the task at hand. For this location, I decided find something interesting in the scene to set my pictures apart from all the other similar images. I noticed a small pond that had a tiny amount of water in it, which would reflect the train, and decided to use that element in my pictures. I also decided to begin documenting the large number of photographers and train enthusiasts who were there to see the steam locomotives.

Train watching requires patience. We waited and waited. A freight train passed by. We waited and waited more. The crowd continued to grow larger and larger. A couple of nearby people were listening to radio scanners and informed us that the train had been delayed. Finally, more than an hour after I expected it to arrive, the #4014 and #844 came quickly chugged along. First I saw the smoke in the distance. Pretty soon the Big Boy locomotive appeared. Click, click, click. I captured a bunch of frames, and, just as quickly as the commotion of the train came, it went. We waited awhile for what was a very short event. As soon as the train disappeared, we jumped into the car and began heading to the next location, along with a large group of other vehicles. The kids were particularly excited that they had just seen two big steam locomotives in action, and they hoped for a chance to see them again.

Richardson Draw Steam (Color):

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UP 4014 & UP 844 Racing West – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Two Union Pacific Steam Locomotives – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Yellow Car Reflection – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Idaho – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Steam (B&W):

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Chugging Up The Grade – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Westbound Big Boy 4014 – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Full Steam Ahead – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Freight (Color)

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Three Flags Waving – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Eastbound Freight – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Helper Reflection – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Orange Autorack – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Freight (B&W)

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Eastbound Engines – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Tanks Among Hoppers – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Covered Hoppers – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Onlookers (Color)

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Crowd On A Hill – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T30 & 50-230mm

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Waiting Ford – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Onward Chase – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Richardson Draw Onlookers (B&W)

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Beginning To Gather – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Rear View Ford – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

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Goodyear – Richardson Draw, WY – Fujifilm X-T20 & 35mm

Part 2: Evanston

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 + U.P. 844

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4014 Flag – Barstow, CA – Sigma DP2 Merrill – April 2014

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4014 Crowd – Barstow, CA – Sigma DP2 Merrill – April 2014

Have you heard? The Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 locomotive, along with the Union Pacific #844, are heading west out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, towards Ogden, Utah, for the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike. The Big Boy locomotives were the largest steam locomotives ever built. Their service ended 60 years ago, and a few were kept in museums. None of them were operational, until now.

Five years ago my son and I drove across the Mojave desert to the dusty town of Barstow, California, to witness the U.P. Big Boy #4014 move from Los Angeles to Cheyenne where it was to be restored. People came out in droves to see the huge locomotive, even though it was being pulled by a diesel and could not move on its own. It was a neat event from a historical perspective. My son, Jon, who was only four-years-old at the time, still remembers it.

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Flare & Flag – Barstow, CA – FED 5C – Velvia X-Processed – April 2014

Three years after that, we saw the Union Pacific #844 at the Ogden Union Station. It’s not nearly as big as the Big Boy, but still large and impressive. A lot of people might be unaware that the Union Pacific still owns and operates steam locomotives. I knew this because many years ago I used to be a train dispatcher for the U.P. Railroad. They have three steam locomotives now: the Big Boy #4014, an almost-as-big Challenger #3985 (which currently doesn’t run because it is due for an overhaul), and the Northern #844, which was the very last steam locomotive delivered to the Union Pacific. The two that are currently in operation, the #4014 and the #844, left Cheyenne towards Ogden today.

Over the last five years the crew at the Cheyenne steam shops have been hard at work restoring the Big Boy to operation. And they completed it just barely in time for it to make the Golden Spike anniversary celebration, which marks 150 years since the completion of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah. For those outside of Utah, this might not seem like a big event, but I can assure you there is a lot of buzz here! I look forward to seeing the two steam locomotives, and capturing a few pictures of the historic run. Most of all, I look forward to my kids witnessing the train, an event that will undoubtedly stick in their minds for many years to come.

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Joe Cool – Barstow, CA – Sigma DP2 Merrill – April 2014

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Tender Wheels – Barstow, CA – Sigma SP2 Merrill – April 2014

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Alco Steam Locomotive Monochrome – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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U.P. Steam Engine No. 844 – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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X-844 – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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Union Pacific Steam – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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No. 844 – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017

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Everybody Loves Trains – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – April 2017