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CHEYENNE – On Monday, November 27, 2017, the Cheyenne City Council approved full funding for the cosmetic restoration of Big Boy No. 4004 located at Holliday Park in Downtown Cheyenne. The contractor selected to perform the restoration is Wasatch Railroad Contractors, a locally owned and locally based railroad restoration company. The restoration project, which begins in December 2017, is slated to take under six months with a completion date sometime in May 2018.
"Our company has done some amazing projects all over the world and we are really excited to be able to share our talents and abilities with our own community," said John E. Rimmasch, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Wasatch Railroad Contractors.
"We are very grateful to the city for making this project a priority. It not only preserves and protects a great treasure of railroad history, it also promotes the city and our rich railroad legacy,” said Cheyenne resident Robert Krieger who serves as the Office Administrator for the Union Pacific Historical Society. “We are excited to see Wasatch Railroad Contractors involved as they have a long history of very successful projects. The Big Boy is going to look great when it is finished."
The locomotive will be restored to resemble how it looked when it was delivered to the Union Pacific in August of 1941. In addition, the boiler jacket will be removed and all asbestos will be removed from the locomotive following necessary safety guidelines. A new boiler jacket will be installed, the cab will be repaired, the locomotive will be stabilized in other areas and then given a new coat of jet black industrial paint and trimmed out correctly.
"When finished, it will look dramatically different than it does now" said Steve Lee, Project Executive assigned by Wasatch Railroad Contractors. Lee, a longtime Cheyenne resident and retired Superintendent of Heritage Operations of the Union Pacific Railroad will lead the team that will perform the cosmetic restoration. Mike Pannell, another longtime resident of Cheyenne and known railroad historian, will act as Project Manager. Lee commented, "We have a very qualified and dedicated team on this project."
"We are not making any promises and our contract allows for more time, however, our goal is to have this project complete prior to Depot Days 2018 which is scheduled to take place in May. Our ability to make the goal will really be driven by the weather, but we will surely do our best." Rimmasch said of the deadline and goals of the project.
In 2005 Wasatch Railroad Contractors performed a similar cosmetic restoration to Big Boy No. 4023, located at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska. The 4023 and Centennial 6900 rest about the crowning archway display into Omaha on the western bank of the Missouri River.
Local railfans and historians are also excited about the project.
Big Boy No. 4004 is one of Cheyenne's most famous landmarks. With an estimated visitor count of 25,000 a year directly coming from the Cheyenne Depot Museum alone. The Big Boy in Holliday Park is a prime destination for many tourists and railroad enthusiasts from all around the world. With only eight remaining Big Boys in existence, people travel from all over the world to visit all eight with Cheyenne being the home to two of them. With restoration of No. 4014 also taking place at the Union Pacific Cheyenne Steam Shop, Cheyenne will continue to be a mecca of steam engine faithful for years to come.