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The Iron Horse in History

The Wasatch Mountains proved a formidable challenge to the Union Pacific Railroad’s mainline. To keep long trains moving up the continuous, steep 1.55% grade, costly helper service was necessary. The challenge was met in 1941 with the class 4000 Big Boy locomotive from Alco (American Locomotive Company). Each Big Boy weighed 400 tons, was nearly 133 feet long and had 16 driver wheels. When on the track, each 68” driver wheel stood taller than most men. Twenty-five of these massive locomotives were produced.

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