Durango RailFest 2003


Every August, the Durango and Silverton NGRR  hosts RailFest, a celebration of narrow-gauge railroading that draws hundreds of participants to Durango.  Events vary from year to year, but it's always a good time for narrow-gauge train lovers.  In 2003, the festivities included a couple of special guests: the Eureka & Palisade wood-burning 4-4-0 steam engine, and Galloping Goose No. 5 from Dolores, CO.  The D&S also planned a special treat: they repainted K-28 No. 473 in its 1950s-era "Bumblebee" scheme.

We attended RailFest as guests of the D&S, mainly because my book had just been published and I was signing them for the bookstore.  Since I was working (after a fashion), we couldn't leave the depot area to chase trains.  However, we did get invited to take the Museum and Roundhouse tour, so I got a number of photos in areas you normally can't see (without shelling out $10).

(By the way, it was interesting to see how the narrow-gauge fans would turn up their nose at my book, once they saw it had a photo of a "diseasel" on the front cover... but no matter.)

These photos were all taken on August 22 and 23, 2003.


  Guest starring this year: the Eureka & Palisade American (4-4-0) woodburner!  This little engine travels into town on a flatbed truck, for obvious reasons.  On this day they had it pulling a small train (one coach and a caboose).  Frankly, it didn't look like it would handle much more.
 Pulling out of the depot, she looks pretty smart.  There was a whole lotta wheel-slippin' going on, though.  It looked like they could stand to add some weight somewhere to keep the drivers on the rails...
 No denying it-- she's a beautiful little locomotive.
 A look at the rest of the train.
 Shortly after the E&P left, we were just starting the roundhouse tour when No. 7, "Big Al", hauled out the hometown favorite, K-28 No. 473.  She's freshly painted in the nostalgic "Bumblebee" scheme, and has a few added features as well...
 A closer look at Big Al.  This is actually a pretty impressive machine, though it's weird to see diesels in Durango (and really weird to hear air horns in addition to steam whistles!).
 No. 473 is dressed up retro.  Notice the diamond stack (false) and the lantern-style headlight box (also false).
 I don't get to see the turntable in operation every day, so this was pretty cool, getting to see the 473 taking a spin.  You may notice that the light had gotten terrible since morning; white skies in August?  Photoshop helps, barely.
 Here's the back of the tender. 
 Ever wonder how they move a dead engine off the turntable?  By mounting a coupler on the bucket of a front-loader, that's how!
 No. 473 was going to the barn to have her fires lit.  Her first road job would not be until the following day.   Notice No. 478 to the right, another K-28.  To the left is K-36 No. 480.  You can really see differences between the classes from this angle.  The smokebox fronts are completely different; location of pumps is different; the K-28 boilers sit lower...
 Another special RailFest guest was Goose No. 5.  Restored to operating condition, the Goose made runs every day of the event.  Here she is, just returned to Durango on Saturday the 23rd.
 No. 473 had taken a train north on Saturday.  Here she is, returning to the station for the first time since being painted yellow.  I believe it was the President's Special, though I'm not positive.  The first car is a combine, so you can't tell what was following...
Yep, she was pretty.  Too bad they didn't leave the engine in these colors.  Some time later she was put back in basic workhorse black.


There were other activities and goings-on besides these.  The railroad ran a "President's Special" that consisted of all the private and first-class varnish; there was a nice buffet on Saturday evening where everyone was encouraged to dress in period garb; there was a fascinating slide show by Al Chione on the last days of the Antonito - to - Durango operation.  Well, I was fascinated, anyway.  My kids were bored outta their minds... 

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2005, James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.