Big Mike's Big Move 

After 50 years in residence in Julia Davis Park, Big Mike is moving to a new home.

The 1920 steam engine will make the move from the park, where it's been stationed since 1956, to the Boise Depot beginning on Dec. 6. Once there, the massive engine and tender will be the centerpiece of a new display, complete with a paved courtyard, walking paths and interpretive signs.

The tender car will be the first to move, leaving the park on the evening of Dec. 6 and moving north on Third Street to Myrtle, and from there, south on Ninth Street.

The engine will follow on Dec. 8. This move will be a little slower and take two to three hours beginning at midnight.

A heavy hauler semi tractor trailer, courtesy of Salt Lake City-based International Rigging and Heavyhaul, will transport Big Mike to its new home. Together, the engine and tender car are 80 feet long and weigh 463,000 pounds.

Ada County Highway District officials say that while the engine is above the Ninth Street bridge's weight limit, the bridge is at no risk since the engine's weight will be distributed across the specially designed truck used to move it.

It's not cheap to move an antique steam engine. The Idaho Transportation Department gave $309,000 of federal funds to the project, along with $14,000 in private donations and another $13,500 of in-kind services from the city. The money will cover not only the move, but construction of the new plaza and development of the display at the depot.

The adventure isn't over for the train once the move is complete. Once at the depot, it will be power washed and repainted, and its windows will be repaired.

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