“Big Boy” and “Engine 844” arrive for the Golden Spike anniversary

May 8, 2019, 5:07 PM | Updated: May 9, 2019, 2:29 pm
(Photo: Paul Nelson)...
(Photo: Paul Nelson)
(Photo: Paul Nelson)

(Correction:  An earlier version of the story stated the the engines will be taken to the Golden Spike National Historic Park.  They will actually stay on the tracks next to Wall Avenue until Friday morning, then put on display at the Ogden Depot until Sunday.)

WEBER COUNTY – Hundreds of people show up in Ogden to see the two steam locomotives featured before Friday’s 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike.  This was especially poignant for one woman whose ancestors worked on the railways 150 years ago.

Margaret Yee had two great-grandfathers who moved from China to help build the transcontinental railroad.  One worked on the rail lines while the other was a cook, making Chinese food for all of the Chinese rail workers.  She has lived in Utah for 57 years, all because her great-grandfathers came here from half a world away.

“We had the opportunity to come over here to the land of opportunity to achieve the American dream,” she says.

Seeing all of the people line up along the tracks to see “Big Boy” and the “Living Legend Engine 844” warmed her heart, since people were not only there to see the engines, but to pay their respects to the men who made the transcontinental railroad become a reality.

Yee says, “I feel like our ancestors… all their hard work is paying off because all these people come out to honor history and commemorate them.”

“The 844 and the UP Team 44 ‘Big Boy’ meet nose to nose,” says Union Pacific Heritage Operations Project Manager Ed Dickens, as they recreate an iconic picture from American history.

The power generated by the engines is palpable.  When the engineer blows the whistle, someone close by can feel it in their chest.

“Taking control of a 600 ton 7000 horsepower locomotive, you can feel that power.  You can feel it in your hand.  You can feel it in your seat,” Dickens says.

Only eight “Big Boy” engines are in existence, and this is the only one that is functional.

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“Big Boy” and “Engine 844” arrive for the Golden Spike anniversary