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Enormous Big Boy steam railroad locomotive to make brief stops in Lawrence in August and September

The Union Pacific Big Boy, the largest steam railroad locomotive ever built, will be making a return visit to Lawrence next month — and another in September.

Big Boy’s last visit to Lawrence drew huge crowds to the Union Pacific depot in North Lawrence to see the enormous, smoke-belching locomotive, which was built in 1941 to pull heavy freight trains over the Rockies. Together with the tender that carries oil to power the steam engine, Big Boy weighs more than a 747 passenger jet.

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The 85-foot long, 380-ton behemoth, pulling a train of support cars, will make brief stops at the Union Pacific depot for about 45 minutes at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 9, and again for about 20 minutes at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2, as part of a five-week tour that will take it from its home base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Texas and New Orleans.

Big Boy was last in Lawrence in November 2019 as part of its inaugural tour after the engine, No. 4014, was refurbished and returned to operation by the Union Pacific after many years of disuse. This locomotive is the only remaining one in working condition; seven others, out of a total of 25 built in the early 1940s, are on display around the country. 

Big Boy’s first stop in Lawrence will be en route to Kansas City, where it will be on display all day Aug. 10. On the way back from its southern trip, it will be on display at KC’s Union Station all day Sept. 1. According to the Union Pacific site, there are no plans for passenger excursions on the Kansas legs of the tour.

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