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April 17, 2014

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Big Boy locomotive begins California farewell tour

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Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press

Spectators view the historic locomotive Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 at the Metrolink Station in Covina, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. The locomotive will head for Colton over the next several weeks before No. 4014 departs for Union Pacific’s Heritage Fleet Operations headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyo.

POMONA, Calif. — An enormous steam locomotive that has been entertaining train enthusiasts at a California museum for years began a trek of more than 1,200 miles on Sunday with the ultimate goal of putting the engine back on the nation's rails.

The 600-ton Big Boy locomotive left the Pomona fairgrounds on its way to a Union Pacific rail yard in Colton, about 60 miles away, where it will be available for two weekends of public viewing before moving on to Cheyenne, Wyo., for restoration work. The goal is to eventually get Engine 4014 back on the rails, said Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt.

The engine, which weighs 1.2 million pounds when its fuel car, or tender, is included, was one of 25 massive steam engines in its class that began riding the transcontinental rails in 1941.

It pulled heavy freight trains over the Wasatch Mountains between Ogden, Utah and Green River, Wyo., and retired after a 17-year career.

In 1962, the behemoth was donated to the RailGiants Train Museum in Pomona.

Since November, the locomotive has been slowly moved across the grounds at the Pomona fairplex on 4,500 feet of temporary track.

On Sunday, Union Pacific pushed the locomotive onto the main tracks, where it will be towed by modern diesel freight locomotives 56 miles to Colton — a last stop before heading to Wyoming. The repairs there could take several years, Union Pacific has said.

In exchange for getting No. 4014 back, Union Pacific plans to deliver diesel locomotive No. 3105, a caboose and a boxcar to the RailGiants museum, company officials told the Los Angeles Times.

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