By Jenny Kendrick
Special to The Ely Times
Friday, May 10, marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of the transcontinental railroad being completed. 150 years later and some steam-powered machinery is still very much in action, which is a testament to wild west workmanship building things to last.
To celebrate this impressive milestone in American history, the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is gearing up with fun for the entire family. Among the festivities is the opening of the museum’s exhibit: Two Spikes – Silver and Copper showcasing the development of the transcontinental railroad and the Nevada Northern Railway.
Also, on May 10, both of the locomotives at Nevada Northern Railway will be fired up and situated pilot-to-pilot to replicate the famous transcontinental completion photo.
After the ceremony, the machines will haul the premier Copper Spike Limited in railroad parlance as a double-header, meaning that both locomotives will haul the same train.
Durango’s Bar D Wranglers will perform a free concert in the freight depot upon the Copper Spike Limited’s return
To commemorate the 150th Anniversary, the Union Pacific’s Big Boy 4014 locomotive will make a grand journey from Cheyenne, Wyomingm on May 4, to Ogden, Utah, by May 9 and will be on display at the Ogden station until May 11.
For adventurers looking to experience the real-deal firsthand, the station is just a four-hour drive east on Interstate 80 from Nevada Northern Railway.
Also, the journey of Big Boy will be followed the Trains Magazine Big Boy chase team with live Facebook videos and daily video updates on Trains Magazine’s website and also the Nevada Northern Railway’s Facebook page as Nevada Northern Railway Museum is one of the two sponsors of the chase team.
Union Pacific built 25 “Big Boy” locomotives during the second World War as the largest trains in existence.
Today, there are eight Big Boys still around, but only Number 4014 still runs, after two years of renovations. The locomotives weighed 600 tons, were 132 feet long and moved up to 80 miles per hour while pulling a fully-loaded freight train.
“It’s hard to describe the feeling you get being around these machines,” said Mark Bassett, president of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. “It’s easy to lose yourself in a daydream about the way things used to be. Everything at the museum is true to history; it feels like you’re walking right into a day on the job in 1910.
“We want to invite people to experience the kind of authentic immersion that gives you goosebumps. When you’re here you smell the coal and smoke and get a real, hands-on encounter with some of the original American ingenuity that has gotten us where we are today.”