Chasing UP 4014 into St. Louis
by Michael Roderick
Railfanning the UP 4014 BigBoy in St. Louis.
The weekend of August 28-29th, 2021 I spent chasing the UP BigBoy coming into St. Louis, MO. I know most of the people who know me know that I love the Southern Railroad and have lots of Sothern Railroad equipment and other historical items that are Southern. I have seen both Sothern 4501 and 630 in Chattanooga, TN and have pictures of both engines. But when you are given that chance to get to see the worlds largest operating steam engine in operation you go for it especial when it’s in your backyard to say the least a 4-hour drive is just afternoon trip chasing trains.
Well, that’s what Precilla and I did when we first heard about this trip on the UP-Steam Facebook group and some other friends of ours posted about it I asked her do you want to go to St. Louis and see the BigBoy? I booked us a hotel in in downtown St. Louis, MO first so that we could make a weekend out of this, and she took the day off from work on the 27th and we proceeded to head to St. Louis, MO. We also took 2 other friends of ours Robert McGee and Renee’ Wall.
So, to pass the time before the BigBoy came into St. Louis from E. St. Louis, IL the 4 of us went to the Budweiser Brewery for a morning tour of the plant and yes, we did see some of the World’s Famous Clydesdales horses that they had at the Brewery.
I was keeping up to date with one of our friends that was going to video it in Fountain, IL so I knew about what time we had to get on the other side of the river. After doing that we head over to Cahokia, IL to look for places to take pictures of the BigBoy crossing the McKinley Bridge into St. Louis. Well, what do you know we met up with some local steam fan’s doing the same thing! With their help and knowledge off the area we found a place for excellent shots of it crossing the bridge. It took us about 1.5 hours to find the spot, but it was well worth the wait. Because we where able to sit back and relax smell the mighty Mississippi River and watch trains crossing the river.
I was able to video a UP freight train crossing into Illinois, as well as an Amtrak train crossing heading Chicago area. I caught a KCS Autorack train holding on the bridge before the BigBoy crossed as well as several barges and small pleasure craft cruising the river. We also caught another form of horsepower just strolling by.
I would like to give a shout out to Union Pacific Railroad in giving us railfans the ability to track the BigBoy via social media and real-time GPS tracking. They really care about this the people who really appreciate this type of work that they do. They emphasize safety first and foremost by staying 25’ away from the tracks while watching or viewing the train in-motion.
Even when we were viewing the engine at the Amtrak station in St. Louis. They had you at least 3-5’ away from the engine and the rest of the equipment for your safety and theirs. They were having to do some maintenance on it on Sunday while it was open to the public.
Sunday was a very hot day with temperatures going to be in the 90’s by midday and the heat index’s pushing 100. We got to the BigBoy around 11am in the morning and the staff public relations staff of UP was so helpful in moving people into the viewing area of the display. Those of us that have physical disabilities were helped to get up front to view the engine by the usage of golf carts. They had fans with the picture of the BigBoy and told everyone to please take one as well as ice cold water bottles all of this was free to the public. They had already had over 3000 people come through by the time we got there.
Ed Dickens started speaking to everyone to talk about how he got involved with the UP-Steam Program and thanking everyone for coming out to see the engine. He also took the time to thank several WWII veterans personally and the rest of the veterans that where there.
All 4 of us really enjoyed our weekend in St. Louis, MO. Having been able to see this engine in person and to hear it come across the bridge with the whistle blowing saying welcome to Missouri UP style was just amazing. The pictures that I have sent with this letter only show part off it. Having been able to get up close and personal with it puts this in perspective of what we as modelers try to do.
I am very proud to have been able to share my UP Experience with the members of the CID.