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Big Boy rolls through Hearne, part of 10-state tour

Posted at 4:54 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 18:18:46-04

HEARNE, Texas — 'Big boy' has made its final stop for the night Sunday and rested in Hearne before continuing its trek.

Thousands in the Brazos Valley gathered to capture a glimpse of the world's largest steam locomotive.

Hearing that whistle from this locomotive is something Austin native Lynn Fisk said he wouldn't miss again.

"We've never seen this one before. It came through Texas back in 2019, and I missed it. So we wouldn't make that mistake again," said Fisk, a train enthusiast.

So he arrived in Hearne hours before Big Boy was sent to roll in

"I hope it will create enough interest that other steam trains can be stored and be put back online, so people can join the celebration," Fisk said.

Big Boy's lead engineer Ed Dickens is glad it's doing what it's built to do... showcase history.

"For decades and decades railroad fans throughout the world have always asked the question: 'When will a Big Boy run again?' And told by official sources 'never'... 'It's too big.. It will never happen,'" said Ed Dickens, lead engineer on Big Boy.

Leaders started rebuilding it in 2017, and here it is, a 7,000-horsepower steam engine, traveling on a 4,000-mile, 10-state tour.

"It's part of a special connection to the heritage of our country, but the heritage of the Union Pacific railroad and that goes back to 1862, the Pacific Railroad Act," Dickens said. "The building of the transcontinental railroad, the uniting of a nation, and the very important role that railroads still play today. Railroads operate in the background of our lives. It's easy to forget the importance of how important they are. Everything in our life, in one form or another, comes in by rail."