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World's largest steam engine makes stop in Opelousas

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Posted at 5:49 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 14:19:40-04

Opelousas residents were able to see a piece of history Thursday as the world's largest steam engine made a stop in town.

Big Boy No. 4014 is Union Pacific steam locomotive delivered in December of 1941 and built to conquer mountains in Utah while carrying equipment during World War II. It was retired in 1961 after traveling a little more than a million miles, was reacquired by Union Pacific in 2013, and restored to service in 2019.

It's currently on a 10-state tour and arrived in Louisiana Thursday. Big Boy will make eight whistle-stops, or brief stops in smaller towns, in southern Louisiana and will be on public display at the Audubon Riverview Park in New Orleans on Saturday, August 21.

This marks the first tour Big Boy has embarked on since its post-restoration debut in 2019 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad's completion.

Opelousas was its third stop Thursday. It first made whistle-stops in Lake Charles and Kinder after departing from Beaumont this morning.

Even though the train's stop was a quick one, Mayor Julius Alsandor said all kinds of people were there to see it, and it had those in attendance feeling like a kid again.

"We had people from all walks of life that were here. The kids were overjoyed, but you also had parents and grandparents that were happy to be a part of this particular tour," he said. "And if you looked at me, I was just like another kid up there in that engine, pulling that horn trying to make music with it."

A complete schedule of Big Boy's 2021 tour and a map tracking its journey can be found here. You can also follow Big Boy's adventure on Twitter.

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