The Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood is just 20 minutes from my house. Probably best known for its collection of train engines and cars, many of them very rare, it also houses a modest automobile collection and at least one streetcar and one jet airplane. It also has a pretty cool activity center for kids where the grownups can sit back and just watch the kids having fun. It’s a great place for kids crazy about trains (e.g. my oldest grandson) because they, and the grownups, can climb up in a couple of the engines and handle all the valves and steering mechanisms, walk down the aisles of some coach cars, check out the layout a of a caboose, and walk through the belly of the largest tank car ever made. The downside – it’s really sad to see the deteriorating condition of some of the engines and cars.
This Union Pacific engine is known as Big Boy and is one of the engines at the museum that you can climb in, inspect and play with the controls. Following is a transcript of the sign outside the engine.
“Built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company at a cost of $265,000.00 number 4006 is one of 25 big boys, the largest successful steam locomotives ever built, with a total weight of over 600 tons. It is 132’9 ¼” long, carries 33 tons of coal and 25,000 gallons of water in its tender. It is a 4-8-8-4 (simple) articulated locomotive.”
As best as I can understand it the 4-8-8-4 indicates a wheel arrangement of 4 wheels in front, two sets of 8 in the center, and 4 wheels in the back. The wheels are articulated in that the front and back sets can be moved back and forth on the trains chassis independent of the center wheels. This allows the wheels to “stretch out” to better negotiate tight turns. The 1941 $265 thousand price tag would equate to about $4.4 million in 2017.
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