Mayor Carrie Tergin makes a luxurious discovery aboard theUnion Pacific Steam Engine 4014.
When I learned this was the “Luxe” issue, I thought of many things that represent luxury in Jefferson City. Having a meal at some of my favorite restaurants in historic settings, gazing at the tin ceilings and original wood floors, capturing a moment of what it must have been like decades ago. Perhaps having a fancy drink and thinking about all those who came to the capital city over the years and what their experiences were like while they were here. It’s easy to think about the luxury of those days, and seeing it restored lets us enjoy it too.
My once-in-a-lifetime luxury moment happened very unexpectedly. It captured all of those feelings from days past, along with the excitement of our current day. It started with a ride in the front of a very historic steam engine — complete with the heat, dirt, noise, and excitement! It was truly one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced. I was riding the historic Union Pacific Steam Engine 4014, also known as the “Big Boy,” when it rolled through Missouri as part of our Bicentennial last summer. It’s the only one of its kind still in operation. I had the honor to ride on the train from Hermann to Jefferson City. I knew very little in advance — other than it would be over 100 degrees, so I was supposed to drink plenty of fluids starting the day before so I could still have fun!
It’s as hot as a sauna on a steam engine train, but something about it felt good. Before we left Hermann, I had the honor of pulling the horn five times, signifying that we were preparing to depart on our journey to the Capital City. The Union Pacific Big Boy is bigger than I could have imagined. Pictures will never show its grandeur. To see it in person is beyond a treat—the smell, the steam, the fog, the sounds, the blowing of the horn. Famous engineer Ed Dickens talks about how you can feel the rhythm of the ride on a train like that, and it’s true.
This is what built our country — our industry. To see it in action is hard to describe, and the absolute best part of the ride was the crowds of people who came out to catch a glimpse along the way. As I looked out the open-air window, I could see the smiles, and the expressions were priceless. The steam rose and blew as the horn rang out loudly announcing our arrival. It’s almost like an eclipse — something you don’t see in its entirety, but you can catch a glimpse for a moment, and it will stay with you forever.
That evening I had dinner on the other trains adjoining the Big Boy. That was definitely the luxe part of the journey. From the carpet and the walls, to the historic pictures and signs, and of course, the delicious food in the dining car, the historic train cars were exquisite. Getting a drink at the bar, I felt like I had gone back in time. Some of the cars had sleeping rooms, so I wondered — perhaps they wouldn’t notice if I just stowed away? And I can’t forget about the furniture and the elegance. It was more than just beautiful looking. It was a feeling. The historic photos showed the decades where people dressed up to ride the train.
We can be thankful for the continued support of our friends at Union Pacific for bringing the Big Boy through Missouri. Union Pacific was also a big supporter of Missouri’s Bicentennial and the Bicentennial Bridge project, which now gives a whole new perspective of the trains as we walk over the top of them from the bridge. It will remain a truly monumental day.