MEXIA, TX — A historic Union Pacific train is on a 10-state tour, and Sunday, it made it to Central Texas.
Hundreds of people came out to the railroad crossing near Commerce Street in Mexia to see the little piece of history.
"It's just a part of history that I just can't let escape because I'm 80 years old. I may never have this opportunity again!" said attendee Mariellen Ingram. She took a road trip from outside Houston to see the locomotive.
"It's a big deal! I certainly enjoy it and I'd drive a couple hundred miles to see a good train," said Bob White, who spent many years working in Mexia.
The crowd was large for such a small town.
"It looked like old Mexia that I remember on the Saturday nights," White said.
The "Big Boy" No. 4014 is on a tour around the central United States. Union Pacific hopes to give people an close-up look at history.
"We like to bring this locomotive around to contrast the difference between modern railroads and the way it used to be," said Ed Dickens, manager of heritage operations for Union Pacific.
The train originally ran for 20 years, from 1941 to 1961. It was restored in 2019 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad.
It's one of only eight left in existence, but the other seven are left in museums.
People have been coming out by the thousands to see the locomotive.
"We estimate we've already seen 250 thousand people since we left Cheyenne, Wyoming and that's probably a conservative estimate," Dickens said.
The tour is meant to remind people not just about the history of the railroad system, but also the importance of it to this day.
"Everything in our life, our clothing, our cars--everything--our household goods, building materials, all of that comes by rail. Railroads are extremely important," Dickens said.