Union Pacific is not just a railroad company, it’s part of American history. As a company it has 10,000 customers, more than 47,000 employees, 8,500 locomotives, and carries 9 million carloads annually in 23 states. This makes its railroad network the largest in the United States. Historically, it began operation in 1862 via the Pacific Railroad Act. To preserve The Union, Abraham Lincoln approved this act that led to the construction of railroads from the Missouri River at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Pacific Ocean. The transcontinental railroad will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2019. I’m certain that Union Pacific will be at the party.
Union Pacific built 25 Big Boy steam locomotives. For 20 years beginning in 1941, 4014 huffed around The West traveling more than a million miles before retiring. There are 7 Big Boys (some sources say 8) on public display in the United States according to up.com. No. 4004 can be seen in Cheyenne.
Union Pacific has a locomotive restoration facility in Cheyenne. Right now this Steam Shop is restoring Big Boy No. 4014 that was moved from California to Wyoming in 2014. The plan is for it to be operational by 2017 when it will become the largest, most powerful operating steam engine in the world.
To see non-operational #4004 isn’t the only reason to visit this capital city with a closed capitol. The Union Pacific gave Cheyenne its 19th century Romanesque train station in 1993. It has been beautifully restored. Inside is a traditional railroad museum, a visitor information facility and gift shop, a nostalgic look at a ghostly, historic waiting room, etc. Outside trains roll by. Upstairs is a gigantic model railroad display that I’m sure a lot of visitors miss seeing. It’s worth the effort. Harry Brunk labored 30 years to create this Union Central and Northern model railroad layout and then donated it to the Cheyenne Depot Museum.
After seeing this major tourist attraction, visitors will understand the impact that Union Pacific had on Cheyenne and the development of The West.