'Big Boy' locomotive traveling across Minnesota

Union Pacific’s Big Boy steam engine sits on the tracks.
Union Pacific’s Big Boy steam engine sits on the tracks outside of Union Station in St. Paul on Wednesday. The 1.2-million pound locomotive is traveling across the Midwest for the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The world’s largest steam locomotive is making a stop in St. Paul for the day Thursday in honor of the transcontinental railroad’s 150th anniversary.

“Big Boy” — Union Pacific locomotive No. 4014 — will be available for free tours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Union Depot.

The free exhibition provides a glimpse into the past while telling the story of modern-day railroading. Visitors can enjoy food trucks, model train sets and family activities. They can also take photos near the front of the engine and tour one of its cars.

Crew members grease components of Big Boy.
Crew members grease components of Big Boy while it stops to refuel just before arriving at Union Station in St. Paul on Wednesday. The train logged more that 1 million miles before being retired in 1961.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Union Depot is one of a select number of stops during Big Boy’s “Great Race Across the Midwest.” The tour began in Cheyenne, Wyo., on July 8.

The 132-foot-long, 1.2-million-pound engine was one of 25 of the massive steam engines built for Union Pacific Railroad in the 1940s. Only eight remain, and No. 4014 is the only one still operating.

The train was in restoration for the past year and a half, during which it was ripped apart and rebuilt.

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Crowds gather near Union Depot to watch Union Pacific’s Big Boy.
Crowds gather along a fence near Union Depot in St. Paul to watch Union Pacific’s Big Boy roll into the station on Wednesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

“All the little pieces, the little whirring sound you hear. Those are electric generators run by a steam turbine,” said engineer and driver Ed Dickens. “The fuel system, the fire box, the internal parts of the boiler. Every piece of it. All new. If it needed to be new, we just made it new. And it fully functions.”

After St. Paul, the next stop on the locomotive’s tour is Duluth. It will arrive on Friday evening and be on display to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.

It will travel back through the Twin Cities on Monday, and then head east to a stop in Altoona, Wis., on Tuesday. Find complete route and stop details here.