“Big Boy”, the largest steam locomotive in the world, is making a stop in El Paso.

Big Boy will actually be here through Halloween but the last public viewing –– maybe* –– took place Tuesday.

So, paraphrasing the immortal question of Roy D. Mercer, “Just how big an ol’ boy are you?”

Like, 17 feet tall. That’s Manute Bol standing on top Manute Bol standing on top of Verne Troyer.

Er, okay, let’s reverse all those and remember that Verne Troyer is also dead, which he would definitely be if two Manute Bols stood on his head.

Let's also remember Manute Bol has passed. And ponder how many ways we can use Mr. Bol and Mr. Troyer as units of measurement.

Union Pacific has Big Boy touring the country to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike, which only sounds like a casino but is actually historically significant.

The Golden Spike was the name given to the ceremony honoring the final bit of track being laid to unite the eastern part of the country with the west.

We may take flying or even driving coast-to-coast for granted, but until 1869 the only way to do this was on the back of a horse or a wagon.

“Are we there yet?”

“NO, Zebediah! Just three more months to go, though.”

“But I have to go to the outhouse.”

“Okay. Jump down. But if you can’t run back to the wagon faster than our oxen can walk, you’re on your own. And mind the coyotes and snakes, boy!

Not that 19th century train travel was that much better, I’m sure. But “weeks” to cross the country was certainly better than “months”.

And by the time Big Boy came off the assembly line in 1941 –– roughly 1.3 Manute Bols ago –– he was THE way to travel.

What a marvel! As much horsepower as a modern diesel locomotive but powered by steam, the engineering equivalent of having gas. The only difference being you’d need something attached to harness the unleashed energy!

Big Boy is also 18 Manute Bols long. With a Verne Troyer or two thrown in.

You can imagine the amount of coal it took to spark Big Boy up.


You can also imagine that it was good idea Union Pacific converted Big Boy’s fuel to oil when they rebuilt it, otherwise a trip through town would have folks thinking ASARCO was back in business.

Back in the day, Big Boy needed 56,000 pounds of coal for a good run.

That’s, like, 280 Manute Bols.

Or 1,600 Verne Troyers!

(* As stated earlier, there were only two days that Big Boy was scheduled to be available for public viewing in El Paso. BUT I overheard a VERY unsubstantiated rumor that Union Pacific MIGHT allow another viewing this Saturday. Do NOT take my word for it! Check this link for any change in schedule, or see Big Boy's Facebook Page...because of course he has one!)

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