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Central Events 4

Big Boy Steam Train to Pass Through Arkansas


Get ready to see a piece of railroad history when the world’s only operating Big Boy steam engine travels through Arkansas August 25-27.

Rail fans young and old will not want to miss seeing the historic Union Pacific 4014 “Big Boy” locomotive train on the Arkansas leg of a 10-state tour which began in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in early August and will conclude its journey on September 7.

The UP 4014 is one of 25 steam locomotives built for Union Pacific beginning in 1941. The UP 4014 made its debut in December of 1941 and traveled 1,031,205 miles before it was retired 20 years later in 1961. Upon retirement, the Big Boy spent over 50 years on display at the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California.

UP 4014 Big Boy Vitals

Tender Type: 14 Wheeled
Water Capacity: 25,000 Gallons
Fuel: Coal 56,000 lbs.
Gauge of Track: 4 ft. 8-1/2 in.
Weight in Working Order, Pounds:
Leading:   97,000
Driving:    540,000
Trailing:   125,000
Engine:     762,000
Tender:    427,500

Restoration and Present-Day Debut of UP 4014

In preparation for celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion, Union Pacific reacquired the train in 2013 and began a multi-year restoration project to bring the UP 4014 back to its original glory.

During the Transcontinental Railroad anniversary trip, the Big Boy met nose-to-nose with historic steam locomotive Living legend No. 844 to recreate a historic photo taken on May 10, 1869. The photo marked the final spike placed at Promontory Summit and marked the official completion of the Transcontinental railroad.

Following the photo opportunity, the train embarked on a months-long tour of the western half of the United States. It was during this tour that the UP 4014 made its first appearance in Arkansas. In November 2019, an extended public display at Union Pacific in Little Rock drew a large crowd of spectators.

If you missed seeing the Big Boy in 2019, make plans to see it as it travels through Arkansas once again.

UP 4014 Arkansas Whistle Stops (Subject to Change)

Wednesday, August 25

Texarkana  1:15-1:45
Hope 3:00-3:15
Prescott  Arrive 4:00

Thursday, August 26

Prescott Depart 8:00
Gurdon 8:45-9:15
Arkadelphia 9:45-10:30
Malvern 11:15-11:45
North Little Rock Arrive 1:30

Friday, August 27

North Little Rock Depart 8:00
Bald Knob 10:30-11:15
Tuckerman 12:30 – 12:45
Walnut Ridge 1:45 – 2:30

Tips for Viewing Big Boy

Due to COVID protocols, all Arkansas stops are currently scheduled as “viewing only” events, although this is subject to update at the crew’s discretion.  Craig Christiansen, the owner of Arkansas Traveler Hobbies and chairman of the Rail Sub-Committee, has worked with crews to develop the plan for the Arkansas leg and has this advice for spectators:

  1. Stay at least 25 feet back.
  2. Drink lots of water.
  3. Watch your exposure to the elements and take appropriate health measures to protect yourself and others.
  4. Follow all instructions provided by the crew or staff at various whistle stops.
  5. Remember that everyone wants the best viewing spot, so be kind and courteous to those around you.


Will I be able to board the train?

Not likely. Due to COVID protocols, the train is not currently scheduled for any onboard stops in Arkansas. Each stop will be viewing only, so bring your camera to capture all the photos you can and keep an ear open for the sound of the iconic steam train whistle.

Why is there a diesel engine behind the Big Boy?

Though extremely efficient at pulling, the braking capability of a steam locomotive is not as great as that of a diesel engine. A diesel engine has dynamic brake capability and will assist the train anytime it needs to brake.

Where does the Big Boy refuel?

The UP 4014 consumes a lot of water and coal to keep it running. Most towns no longer have coal chutes and water filling stations available, so strategic stops have been planned along the journey to allow the train to be properly refueled.

Will the Big Boy be pulling any historic cars?

Upon arrival in Arkansas, the UP 4014 will have completed a huge PR tour in Louisiana. During this tour, the locomotive will pick up many historic cars to pull along its return to Wyoming. Viewers at stops in Arkansas should be able to view:

Water Car Jim Adams
Water Car Joe Jordan
Helper Diesel Locomotive
Tool Car Art Lockman
Support Car Howard Fogg
Baggage Car Lynn Nystrom
Baggage Car Pony Express
Colorado Eagle (Dome Diner)
Challenger (Dome Coach)
Promontory (Experience Car)
​Omaha (Deluxe Sleeper))
​UP Power Car 2066
Walter Dean (Dome Lounge)
City of Denver (Diner)
Kenefick (Business Car)

Do you love trains? Arkansas is full of rail history. Check out these articles for more information on historic trains and railroad museums throughout Arkansas.

Historic Trains of Arkansas, A Series – Depots
Historic Trains of Arkansas, A Series – Locomotives and Railcars
Historic Trains of Arkansas, A Series – Cabooses
Ruland Junction Train Museum
Eureka Spring Train Travel and Dining
Orphan Train Riders of Arkansas
St. Joe Train Depot Museum
Train Experiences in Arkansas

Meet the

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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4 responses to “Big Boy Steam Train to Pass Through Arkansas”

  1. Wayne Helms II says:

    This locomotive was converted to burn oil several years ago it no longer burns coal as stated above, here are the details of that conversion

  2. Donna H ONeal says:

    loved seeing Big Boy….mark this off my bucket list.

  3. Robert Monroe says:

    I wish It would come out to Idaho but I enjoy watching videos of it

  4. Lynda says:

    I love trains.
    Some of my ancestors, and ancestor cousins helped build the railroads.
    She of my Curtis and Drennan ancestor cousins had a hand in building the railroads. Plus, during this era, I still have other relatives who work with the railroads, and love working on the railroad, and the trains.

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