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UP’s Big Boy, Living Legend face off in ceremony to celebrate anniversary of transcontinental railroad

May 10, 2019 / Updated July 25, 2023


Tapping a ceremonial golden spike after the Big Boy and Living Legend met Thursday from left are Sandy Dodge, descendent of Gen. Grenville Dodge; Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Union Pacific Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, Margarat Yee, a descendent of a Central Pacific employee, and Scott Moore, UP’s senior vice president corporate relations and chief administrative officer. – Courtesy Union Pacific

Meeting at Ogden Union Station

Big Boy No. 4014 and Living Legend No. 844 have met.

On Thursday the iconic steam locomotives faced head-to-head for Union Pacific’s celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion. The two met like Jupiter and No. 119 did at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869, when the UP and Central Pacific Railroad connected.

A ceremony was held at Ogden Union Station about 50 miles from where the Golden Spike was originally tapped into place. Union Pacific removed its tracks near Promontory Summit to support the scrap metal projects during World War II.

“This celebration is Union Pacific’s way of reflecting on our ancestors’ remarkable achievements that connected the nation while reminding us of the enormous responsibility we have for our nation’s future,” said Scott Moore, senior vice president – Corporate Relations and chief administrative officer. “We are proud our employees live and work in thousands of the communities we serve, delivering steel to construct schools and stores, lumber to build homes, the food we eat, clothes we wear and electronics we rely on.”

Big Boy No. 4014, one of eight left in the world, underwent a historic refurbishment for more than two years prior to event. The 4-8-8-4 locomotive, the only one in operation, was fired for the first time in 60 years on April 9.

The locomotives left Cheyenne, WY, on May 4 for the meet in Ogden. The Living Legend was supposed to have left Cheyenne April 27 but the run was cancelled so UP’s steam crew could finish getting the Big Boy ready for its run.

Union Pacific Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz and his wife, Julie, christened the Big Boy by breaking a bottle of champagne, draped in a cloth bag, over the front of the locomotive before it left Cheyenne.

In Ogden, UP’s Ed Dickens, who headed restoration efforts, was at the throttle to move the Big Boy into position for the meet. Afterward, Fritz and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert were joined by Margaret Yee and Sandy Dodge to tap a ceremonial spike. Yee’s ancestors were among thousands of Chinese immigrants who forged the transcontinental railroad for Central Pacific. Dodge is a descendent of Gen. Grenville Dodge, Civil War veteran and UP’s chief engineer during construction.

The steam locomotives will remain on display at Ogden Union Station until May 12, when they return home to the Steam Shop in Cheyenne.

The 150th anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year, with No. 4014 visiting many states across the Union Pacific system. A tentative schedule with tour locations and dates will be published in the near future at www.upsteam.com.

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