A historic steam locomotive is stopping in Yuma on Tuesday, and residents are invited to be part of a panoramic group photoshoot in front of the engine.

Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy No. 4014, the world’s largest steam locomotive, will arrive at 4 p.m. and be on display at 10th Street and Arizona Avenue, near Crossroads Mission, until it leaves at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Mayor Doug Nicholls will share brief marks and read a proclamation before the photoshoot. Street parking is all that is available in this area. Although 1st Avenue remains closed in this general vicinity, 10th Street itself is open across 1st Avenue.

The locomotive is making its way across the Southwest in commemoration of the transcontinental railroad’s 150th anniversary. The completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, is recognized as one of our country’s biggest achievements and one of mankind’s biggest accomplishments “in terms of the vision, dedication, innovation and collaboration needed to connect the country with rail,” according to UP’s website.

Riccardo Gaudino, education director of USA Proud Learning, is organizing the local events, which will include a ceremonial welcome. He sees this as an opportunity to not only give rail fans an opportunity to experience history but to teach folks about how the railroad shaped Yuma.

“Yuma is unique,” he said. “There’s a spur, and it’s easy access. Yuma has a tremendous opportunity. We couldn’t do this in Los Angeles.”

The spur is a sidetrack that allows the locomotive to be displayed out of the way of passing trains. The event can’t be held at the Amtrak station because there is no spur and the locomotive would block other trains, Gaudino said.

He envisions a panoramic photo with schoolchildren, officials, law enforcement and residents from all walks of life together with Big Boy in the background.

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds.

Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941. It was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service.

Of the eight still in existence, No. 4014 is the world’s only operating Big Boy. It returned to the rails after more than two years of meticulous restoration work by the Union Pacific Steam Team. 

No. 4014 left Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Sept. 27 for the “Great Race Across the Southwest,” making brief whistle-stops in communities along its route through Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

“Weighing in at 1.2 million pounds, the Big Boy makes a big impression in communities it visits, reminding us of bygone days and the important role the railroad continues to play in our global economy,” said Scott Moore, senior vice president of corporate relations and chief administrative officer.

“Union Pacific wants to thank the countless rail fans and communities who have helped us celebrate this tremendous anniversary,” he added.

Coming out to see Big Boy in person?

Union Pacific strongly encourages visitors keep safety top of mind while viewing and photographing No. 4014. For everyone’s safety:

Remember, trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.

A train’s distance and speed can be deceiving.

The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet – take extra precaution and stand back at least 25 feet.

Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and right of way are private property – please do not trespass.

Never assume tracks are abandoned or inactive – always expect a train.

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