Thousands of people gathered in Claremore Saturday to see the world’s largest operating steam engine make it’s great race across the southwest in honor of Transcontinental Railroad’s 150th anniversary.
Claremore residents and visitors from out of town came to witness the history and celebrate the glory days of the steam engine. Many commemorated the experience by placing pocket change on the tracks.
Claremore 6-year-old Paul Christian, who came to the tracks with his siblings, mother and grandmother said, “I like trains, but I’ve never seen a steam train before.”
The kids, 3, 6 and 9, got the love of trains from their mother, Leslie who said, “I think steam trains are pretty neat, and something I wanted the kids to see.”
Lisa and Brain Koss drove up from Broken Arrow to watch the Big Boy roll through town.
The couple has ridden on a handful of trains in their lifetime, including in an open car behind a steam train like the Big Boy, which left them covered in soot but smiling from ear to ear.
Cash, Chaz and Chloe Harren, ages 10, 8 and 3 respectively, picked up loose railroad spikes to take home as a souvenir.
Parents Colt and Sara brought the kids so they could experience a piece of history only before seen in Western movies and at Silver Dollar City.
“They will probably never see something of this caliber again,” Colt said.
And 18-month old Ottilie Selsor grinned profusely when the giant train pulled up, because it matched her favorite toy choo-choo in her hands.
Union Pacific's Big Boy No. 4014 made whistle stops in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah, with stops remaining in Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.
“Weighing in at 1.2 million pounds, the Big Boy makes a big impression in communities it visits, reminding us of bygone days and the important role the railroad continues to play in our global economy,” said Union Pacific Senior Vice President Scott Moore. “Union Pacific wants to thank the countless rail fans and communities who helped us celebrate this tremendous anniversary.”