LARAMIE -- One of the world's biggest and most powerful steam locomotives is chugging back to Laramie after five years of restoration work.

The 4000-Class Wasatch Big Boy No. 4014 and the 4-8-4 Northern No. 844 will again pull into the historic Laramie Railroad Depot on Friday, May 17. The 2 engines are set to arrive at 12:45 p.m. on the 17th, stay all day Saturday the 18th and leave Sunday the 19th at 8 a.m.

Charles Van Heule, the Rentals/Events Coordinator at the depot, was amazed at the turnout in Laramie last Saturday, May 4, when the two engines were on their way to Utah to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

“We received estimates over 6,000 people lining the tracks from Skyline Dr. and Soldier Springs Rd. on the south side of town all the way to Curtis St. viaduct and Superior Ct. on the north side of town,” said Van Huele.

“There were also over 8,000 viewers from all over the world watching our webcams. By rounding up (just a bit), I'd like to say 15,000 people viewed the event! We definitely waved the ‘Laramie’ flag!” he said.

“Our reception was an overwhelming success, too. We only planned on 3,000 to 4,000. Although the trains were late, which was out of our control, everyone had a great time.”

Van Huele said because the depot facility is available to rent for business meetings, wedding receptions, parties, etc., the Depot was already booked for UW graduation events.

“Unfortunately, the Depot will not be hosting any events open to the public when the steam engines return May 17-19. The train will be parked south of the Depot for viewing, but no tours or rides will be offered.”

Twenty-five Big Boy locomotives were built to haul freight over the Wasatch Mountains between Ogden, Utah, and Green River, Wyoming. In the late 1940s, they were reassigned to Cheyenne, where they hauled freight over Sherman Hill to Laramie. Of the 25 Big Boys built, eight remain, but only #4014 is operational.

Big Boy #4014 is something you’ve got to see. It’s huge. The Big Boy locomotive measures are longer than two city buses. It's heavier than a Boeing 747 jet plane fully loaded with passengers, yet powerful enough to pull 16 Statues of Liberty over a mountain range.

Big Boy No. 4014 made its debut when it rolled out of a Union Pacific restoration shop in Cheyenne on Saturday, May 4. After several stops along the way, including Laramie, it went to Ogden, Utah, to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

The celebration is set for Thursday, May 9, at 10:30 a.m. MDT, and will be held at Ogden Union Station a day ahead of Utah's celebration at Promontory Summit where the Golden Spike was originally tapped into place. Union Pacific no longer has tracks near Promontory Summit since they were removed to support the scrap metal projects during World War II.

The 150th-anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year, with No. 4014 visiting many states across the Union Pacific system. A tentative schedule with tour locations and dates will be published in the near future at www.upsteam.com.

More links and information on activities and viewing at the Historic Railroad Depot can be found in the article at LaramieLive.com, or call 307-745-4195 or 307-399-7341 for more information on this and many other events coming to Laramie.