Published on Nov 3, 2014
Just months before Pearl Harbor, the American Locomotive Company delivered the first Big Boy to the Union Pacific Railroad. The UP's Department of Research and Mechanical Standards had designed the locomotive for a specific task: to pull a 3600-ton train unassisted over the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. While the Big Boy is often cited as the biggest steam locomotive ever built, in fact it is not. The Norfolk & Western's Y6 and Class A, the DMIR’s Yellowstones, and the C&O’s Alleghenys were all in the same league, and some exceeded the Big Boy's weight and power.
But in the battle for hearts and minds, the Big Boy won. Perhaps it was the name, simple and direct, scrawled on a locomotive under construction by an Alco shop worker. Maybe it was timing, as the Big Boys hit the road just when America needed symbols to rally around. Maybe the UP's publicity department just did a better job of telling the world what great equipment they had. Whatever the reason, the Big Boy captured the imagination of railfans and the American public over the ensuing years, perhaps more than any other steam engine. In many ways it is the symbolic locomotive of the American West, as big and powerful as the country it sped through.
This enduring symbol of American railroading returns to the rails, complete with the industry-leading speed control, synchronized puffing smoke timed to drive wheel revolutions, and constant voltage LED lighting that define MTH HO motive power. Our model features a precision 12 volt 5-pole skew wound motor and die-cast metal construction for pulling power and speed that rival the original Big Boy - as well as authentic articulated chuffing sounds simulating the two engines drifting in and out of sync of one another. If you want a Big Boy that does more, the MTH HO Big Boy is the locomotive for you.