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Narrow Gauge Locomotives


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Happily, large remnants of the Rio Grande's narrow gauge empire are preserved through the creation of the Durango & Silverton, and the Cumbres & Toltec railroads. The two operations are quite different in character now, but each has a fascinating stable of vintage Rio Grande steam power and other equipment. Rather than focus on modern operations here, I would simply like to present a collection of roster photographs of surviving D&RG(W) 3-foot-gauge steam locomotives from both owners-- since they share a common source.

Additionally, a number of examples of Rio Grande narrow-gauge locomotives survive as static displays, and I have included the ones I have photos of.

Slim Rail Steam

Class C-16

Consolidation locomotive No. 268, on display in a park in Gunnison.  She wears the flashy "Bumblebee" scheme that dates to ~ 1950.  I have a photo of this same loco, painted roughly the same, in my book.  She was one of only four steamers to be so painted.

Class C-18

No. 315.  Upper photo:  on static display at Gateway Park.  Here she's seen in 2007 under her protective awning at the park prior to completion of the rebuild.

Lower photo: Her restoration has been completed and the locomotive has been active on excursions, stabled in the Silverton & Northern enginehouse. This composite image shows her resting inside the cluttered building on August 9, 2014.

Class K-27

Unique among the still-operating locomotives on the C&T is "Mudhen" No. 463, on the C&T.  After about a decade of disuse and slow repairs, she now steams out of Chama on specials. Here, both sides are photographed in Chama on October 18th, 2014.

Class K-28: No. 473

Top: painted in the "bumblebee" scheme for Railfest 2003 (August).

Bottom: in more typical paint, rounding the curve above the Highline in July 2006.

In January 2014 I spotted 473's tender sitting by itself outside the Durango shops.

Class K-28: No. 476

Seen in Durango in 1982. Unsure of current status but I do know that I have not photographed it since. Personally I doubt that the D&S has much need of a seventh operating steam locomotive.

Class K-28: No. 478

Top: approaching Hermosa tank, where this special train will pause to take on water (and for the crew to unbolt the spark arrestor from the stack). Note the authentic paint scheme. More on this particular excursion movement  on this page.

Below: Seen the night before behind the roundhouse in Durango. This photo isn't included for the details,but to show the weather that these small locomotives sometimes must contend with.

Class K-36: No. 480

No. 480 is one of four K-36s now operating on the D&S.

Class K-36: No. 481

Top: On the head end going around the Highline curve in 2004.

Bottom: returning to the barn in 1998 alongside Highway 550 near Trimble.

(I haven't seen this locomotive out since 2010, making me wonder if it's been idled for some reason.)

Class K-36: No. 482

Top: In Silverton in August 2012.

Bottom: On the highline, seen from the cliffs above (March 26, 2014).

(This locomotive was received by the D&S in trade from the Cumbres & Toltec in 1991 for No. 497. )

Class K-36: No. 483

Sitting outside the Chama shops sans boiler jacket, it looks under repair, not derelict.  The Friends probably have a better explanation...

Class K-36: No. 484

Top: Ready to depart Chama on 10/18/2014.

Bottom: in Cumbres Pass yard on 10/15/2010. At the time, the Lobato trestle was out, and all trains originated or terminated on top of the mountain instead of Chama. Notice how there's always some fat guy in the way of the shot?  :-)

Class K-36: No. 486

Top: treading the Highline in December 2007.

Below: Reading the train for departure in Durango, 1/26/2012.

This locomotive had been on static display at the Royal Gorge Park, but was received in trade by the D&S for K-37 No. 499 in 1999.

Class K-36: No. 487

Top: westbound and halted at Osier on 10/18/2014. No, I don't know those people, but if you stand in front of a historic locomotive, your picture may end up on the interwebs...

Bottom: same time and place. I always love the plows.

Class K-36: No. 488

Class K-36: No. 489

Top: Broadside view from the fireman's side.  (Chama, 10/18/2014)

Middle: good view of the tender and its features. Also visible, the back of the cab (thanks to the flexed position on the curve). (Two views, Chama, 10/28/14)

Bottom: at Osier, waiting to resume westbound trip on 10/15/2010.  Note the "Rio Grande" herald on the tender.

Class K-37: No. 492

Stripped of boiler jacket and parked north of the shop in Chama. This photograph is from 10/15/2010 and is still in that spot in 2014, unchanged.  That's K-36 No. 483 behind the tender, in essentially the same condition.

Class K-37: No. 493

Stuffed and mounted in Silverton, and missing everything forward of the pilot beam, it's still in pretty good shape externally.

UPDATE: This locomotive was moved down to Durango on May 4 2016.

Class K-37: No. 497

For a while in the 1980s this large locomotive plied the rails between Durango and Silverton, but was found to be too large for the tight curvature and was swapped in 1991 to the C&T for K-36 No. 482.




?  James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.