Sunrise on Sherman Hill

In the spectacular light of early dawn, a monstrous Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 thunders its way west as it does battle with the famous Sherman Hill. Union Pacific had built its main line towards Promontory, Utah over Wyoming’s Sherman Hill in 1868. By the time of World War II, the railway maintained three tracks across the summit, and it needed bigger locomotives to meet wartime demands. Twenty-five brute-strength 4-8-8-4 Big Boys were built by Alco, and No. 4000 was the first one to crest the 8,014-ft. summit on September 8, 1941. By any measurement the locomotives were massive: 132-ft. long, 16-ft. high, and with 300-lb. boiler pressure. Capable of attaining speeds up to 70 mph, they did their part to expedite freight and to unite friends and families during the war.
            © Stewart S. Buck