The Museum's Big Boy steam locomotive #4018 made the first leg of its journey from Dallas to Frisco yesterday. It arrived in South Irving, the interchange point between the Dallas, Garland & Northeastern Railroad and BNSF Railway. Witnessed by hundreds of onlookers and supporters, the trip was uneventful with no mechanical issues along the way.
Big Boy performed flawlessly over the entire route, having returned to the main line after 48 years of static display in Fair Park. "It's a real testament to the American Locomotive Company's design and manufacturing practices back in 1942. Today it would be considered overbuilt, but in its time Big Boy was simply rugged and reliable," said Museum CEO, Bob LaPrelle. The Museum's Steam Crew worked tirelessly alongside Scott Lindsay of Steam Operations Corporation during the process of inspecting and preparing the locomotive for movement.
Moving the world's largest steam locomotive, at 133 feet and weighing in at 1.2 million lbs., was not without its challenges. The entire route between Fair Park and Frisco was inspected, including bridge load capacities and degree of curvature along the line. Extra care was given to the locomotive's long wheel base during preparations and throughout the move yesterday. Safety was paramount as well as avoidance of any delays to freight and passenger traffic along the way. Museum volunteers worked in concert with railroad employees to ensure a safe and successful move.
The Museum is indebted to the Dallas, Garland & Northeastern Railroad (DGNO) and its parent company Genesee & Wyoming Inc. for providing transportation of Big Boy to Irving. Using a locomotive generously furnished by BNSF, DGNO dedicated two crews to the all-day effort at no cost to the Museum. Their generosity and support of the entire move process throughout the past year has been one of the key factors in making the relocation to Frisco possible. The Museum is also very grateful to the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) for their cooperation and support of the move between downtown Dallas and South Irving.
The Museum simply could not have made this move without DGNO, and their professionalism and dedication to safety was apparent during each of the equipment moves between Fair Park and Irving. The Big Boy move concludes the DGNO's participation in the relocation effort, as well as nearly twenty years of support of the Museum's activities including fundraisers and new acquisitions. "We will miss our friends at DGNO as we move off-line to a new home, but we are committed to preserving their legacy as part of our nation's railroad heritage," said LaPrelle.
Locomotive #4018 will lay over in South Irving until this weekend when the next window opens for a move over the BNSF to Frisco. Big Boy is not accessible to the public, as it is on private property adjacent to a busy commuter line.
Photo courtesy of Ken Fitzgerald.