I have been a car enthusiast since I was two years old, but I have been a train enthusiast since the moment I was born. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to get a locomotive into a garage, or drive one to work (especially if you live in the States), so that enthusiasm is usually left at the wayside in favour of automobiles. My area is basically devoid of passenger rail, and it is significant effort to try and watch intermodal freight trains which I admittedly have seen thousands of from trainspotting as a kid, so I’ll end up going months on end without seeing a train, except for the tiny N scale ones I have on a layout in a spare corner.
Recently, Union Pacific decided to restore a locomotive that I had idolised my entire life. After 50 years of sitting on display at a railroad museum, the company bought back UP #4014, one of eight remaining Big Boys in existence, and decided to fully restore it to operational status. This is truly the king of trains – no steam locomotive has ever been bigger. It weighs 1.2 million pounds (544 tonnes) and has over 6,000 HP.
After over half a decade of restoration efforts, it was returned to service in early 2019 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. The whistle alone was enough to get train fans excited, as we’ve covered before. The first tour it took was unfortunately nowhere close at all to where I live, and so I just gave up on being able to see it. The second tour, however, came directly through Houston, where it had an exhibition day at a local Amtrak station.
If you look closely at that helicopter footage, you can see my yellow third-gen Prelude parked next to the tracks, because yes, I dropped everything to go see it. I shot video from ground-level for everyone to enjoy, as well! I actually was able to capture the train twice, as it needed to back out of the Amtrak station to get back onto the line it was leaving the city from. The lines were only half a mile apart, so I watched it from one location, and then moved to the other rail to catch it again.