Like most his age, Steve McFerson is a little too young to recall the time when passenger train travel was king.

But at 55, he’s old enough to appreciate the era.

Now treasurer of the Southern California Chapter of The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, a rail preservation group that operates the RailGiants Train Museum at Fairplex in Pomona, McFerson meets scores of people enamored with vintage engines.

The smell, he says, the smoke, the sound of a steam locomotive chug-chug-chugging across the countryside.

Each rail enthusiast has his or her reason for loving these living pieces of rail history.

On Thursday, Oct. 10, hundreds filtered in and out of Union Pacific’s West Colton Yard to feast their eyes on Big Boy No. 4014, the world’s largest steam locomotive.

“It’s hard to compare Big Boy No. 4014 to any diesel locomotive you see on railroads today,” McFerson said this week. “It’s as if people who appreciate this type of steam locomotive see this one as an idol to worship.”

On a short reprieve from a three-month tour across the southwestern United States, Big Boy No. 4014 will again be on display from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 11, before taking hundreds of rail aficionados to Barstow and back Saturday and Sunday.

Visitors on Friday must park at Kessler Park, 18401 Jurupa Ave. in Bloomington, and take a shuttle to the Slover Avenue yard.

The 1.2-million-pound locomotive will depart west Colton at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, and pass through Beaumont about 9:30 a.m. as it continues east on “The Great Race Across the Southwest.”

For information on where Big Boy No. 4014 will be in the coming days, visit

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