Big Boy passes by Martin City Coffee in this photo taken in 2019. Union Pacific officials request viewers stand back 25 feet from the track (unlike those in this photo). Photo by Bill Rankin

Big Boy to pass through Martin City between 9:45 – 10: 15 am Wednesday

“We need to turn the entire train so that we are facing the correct direction. This will consume well over an hour and a half or so.”

The powerful steam locomotive Big Boy No. 4014 will be passing through Martin City (and the south KC area) Wednesday morning, August 11th between 9:45 and 10:15 am, according to engineer Ed Dickens. It leaves Union Station at 8 am after an August 10th viewing and will stop in Paola, Ks. at 11:15 am.

No. 4014 will need to make numerous switching moves in Kansas City after it departs Union Station before it can head south.

“We need to turn the entire train so that we are facing the correct direction,” says Dickens. “This requires several special moves gyrating around the yard. This will consume well over an hour and a half or so. With that in mind I would be prepared to watch the Big Boy go by anywhere between 945 and 10:15 am.”

He advises readers to watch the steam locomotive’s GPS tracker.

From this interactive tracking map  one can see that the train will head to Independence before switching to a track before heading south.

In 2019, Big Boy did a slow roll through Martin City around 5 pm, providing local restaurants with a sold-out capacity and hundreds of viewers at both train crossings, one at 135th Street and the other at 132nd and Holmes Rd.   This year, only the coffee shop at 13115 Holmes Rd which sits next to the tracks will be open for early morning business. 

Penny Romero, owner of Martin City Coffee, is preparing for a return crowd. “For sure I’m excited,” she says. “But it’s also nerve wracking. Last time, it broke all sales ever recorded at the coffee shop.” 

Romero plans to serve a special drink in honor of the steam locomotive’s return.: a steam train snickerdoodle latte. 

In the meantime, fans can view Big Boy at Union Station, 33 Pershing Rd.,  Tuesday from 10 am to 5 pm. There is no cost to view the mighty train; however a $10 parking fee will apply.

In celebration of the event, Science City will feature:

  • A live performance by “Mr. Stinky Feet” from 11:00 am – Noon
  • Face Painting from Noon – 1:30 pm
  • Balloon Artists from 1:30 – 3:00 pm
  • Train-Themed Story Time and Activities in PNC Learning Lab at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm
  • Train-Themed “Make and Take” projects from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Train-Themed Print Making in Maker Studio from 2:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Plus “Dinosaur Train” Coloring Sheets, Cut-Out Masks and Photo Op courtesy of Kansas City PBS
  • Kona Ice & Cato’s Food Truck on site for added convenience and refreshments from 10AM –  4PM

Union Pacific’s beloved steam locomotive started its five-week tour on Aug. 5 with public display events in five major cities, along with brief whistle-stops in more than 90 other communities, including Kansas City on August 10th and September 1st. It will only pass through south Kansas City one time. 

This is the first time Big Boy has gone on tour since its post-restoration debut in 2019, when Union Pacific rolled out this legendary locomotive to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion.

Big Boy’s 10-state tour stretches from the prairies of Wyoming to the bayous of Louisiana and includes its first-ever stop in New Orleans.

By the time the tour ends Sept. 7, thousands of people will have heard, smelled and witnessed the thrill of the world’s largest steam locomotive, one of 25 built in the 1940s and the only one still in operation.

Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December of 1941. This powerful machine was built during World War II to cross the Wasatch Mountain range east of Ogden, Utah. It was retired in 1961 after traveling a little over one million miles, reacquired by Union Pacific in 2013 and restored to its former glory as part of one of the biggest restoration projects ever undertaken in the history of U.S. railroad preservation.

A complete schedule of Big Boy’s 2021 multi-city tour, along with a map tracking its journey, can be found at You can also follow along with Big Boy’s adventure on Twitter at using #BigBoy2021.

Union Pacific reminds all participants to be safe and stay 25 feet back from the tracks when taking a picture.

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