Colorado Narrow Gauge 2018 Calendar
A rail-fan favorite, Colorado Narrow Gauge pictures the steam-powered locomotives that once traveled the narrow-gauge rails serving the Centennial state’s mountain communities, ranches, and mines from the 1800s into the mid-1900s.
Published by Tide-mark, the 2018 wall calendar opens to 13.75 x 20.5 inches.
Engines and trains featured in the 2018 calendar include:
On April 29, 1950, Denver and Rio Grande Western 497 has stopped for water at Villa Grove, Colorado, located in the north end of the vast San Luis Valley. This southbound freight originated in Salida, Colorado and is en route to Alamosa. After it leaves Villa Grove, 497 will make a slight turn then proceed fifty-three miles over a tangent track all the way to Alamosa, something unheard of otherwise in the up and down, twist and turn of narrow gauge railroad construction. By this time, train frequency was about one per week each way, operated exclusively by Salida crews. Always to be remembered as the Valley Line, its fate was the same as much of the narrow gauge lines, as it was abandoned and rails removed in March 1951. The nineteen-mile stretch from Alamosa to Hooper, Colorado had previously been three railed (both standard and narrow gauge) and the standard gauge segment remained until 1959, when it, too, was abandoned. February
Denver and Rio Grande Western 490 is doing some switching at Durango, Colorado prior to taking a trainload of drill mud and pipe to Farmington, New Mexico, fifty miles distant. 490 was originally 1114, a standard gauge Class C-41 Consolidation (2-8-0) built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1902. Later renumbered 1014, it was rebuilt to narrow gauge as 490 in 1928. Set aside in 1962, its tender went to sister engine 491, and 490 was used to supply parts for other K-37’s until it sat on its frame on an idler car. Eventually it was shipped to Pueblo, Colorado for scrapping. 496 preceded it with a cracked boiler, resulting in its scrapping in 1955. All of the other eight K-37s are still around, but the only one operating is 491 at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.
Denver and Rio Grande Western 454 is being serviced at the Montrose, Colorado engine house on August 17, 1948. One of fifteen Class K-27 Mikados (2-8-2) built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, 454 was delivered to the railroad in 1903. By 1948, due to their age, a drop in business on narrow gauge lines, and the introduction of more powerful locomotives, seven K-27s had been sold or scrapped. The others were used primarily for switching or on branch lines. This day 454 would run light to Cimarron, about twenty-two miles east of Montrose. There 454 would assist a westbound freight from Gunnison over short but steep Cerro Summit and back to Montrose. 454 was running on short time, and in November of 1953, after a half century of service, it would be set aside and scrapped.
One of fifteen Denver and Rio Grande Western Class K-27 Outside Frame Mikados (2-8-2), 453 was built and delivered to the Rio Grande by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1903. At that time, they were the heaviest narrow gauge locomotives ever built. In the ensuing twenty-seven years, thirty larger engines were delivered, and by 1941, several K-27’s were either sold or scrapped. In this view, 453 is busy switching the Durango, Colorado yard on June 13, 1951.
It is May 23, 1950 and Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose #4 is crossing Bridge #19-A, the Dead Horse Gulch Trestle, drifting downgrade two miles south of Sam, Colorado. The next town is Placerville, some seven miles south. Goose #4 was built and placed into service in May of 1932. Originally built with a 1926 Pierce-Arrow body, it was eventually rebuilt using a Wayne school bus body. At the time of abandonment of the railroad, it was donated to the Town of Telluride, where it remains on display.
Denver and Rio Grande Western 478 and 498 lead a westbound freight into Oxford, Colorado on June 14, 1968. 498 left Chama, New Mexico westbound with a freight and brought its train to Gato, Colorado, a distance of about 46 miles. 478 was sent east light (no train) from Durango, Colorado to Gato, a distance of sixty-one miles. It would serve as a point helper with 498 back as far as Falfa, about nine miles east of Durango. Due to the up-and-down terrain from Gato to Falfa, two engines were required. This image shows the roller coaster right of way as the train drifts down into Oxford. Point helper 478 would be cut off at Falfa and run light on to Durango, followed in twenty minutes by 498 and the train. In 1958 there was a fatal derailment which was thought to have been caused by slack action between the double-heading locomotives at a sharp curve on a downhill grade about four miles west of Falfa. The problem must have been solved; fortunately, this never happened again.
On June 13, 1968, Denver and Rio Grande Western 493 is on the point of a westbound freight, with 483 as a mid-train helper a mile east of Sublette, New Mexico. In later years, the crews, in addition to taking water, would also take a lunch break and check the locomotives over after their arrival at Sublette. This seventy-car train was the last heavy freight ever operated on the Cumbres Line by the Rio Grande. Although it may not seem possible, this June it will mark 50 years since this train made its three-day Alamosa to Farmington trip.
United States Army Diesel 4700N has a half dozen boxcars in tow, passing the stock pens at Durango, Colorado in July 1955. 4700N is a 48 ton Davenport-Besler locomotive which was operated (tested?) by the Rio Grande, primarily in switching and work train service around Durango; it was also used on Farmington turns, where it performed well on the southbound trips, but it was always a slow trip on the northbound grade up to Durango. In April 1956, it was returned to the Army.
Denver and Rio Grande Western 498, a Class K-37 Mikado (2-8-2) is leading a fifteen car east-bound freight out of Carbon Junction, Colorado en route to Chama, New Mexico on the morning of September 11, 1967. Carbon Junction was where the Farmington Branch split off from the Main Line. This image shows the Farmington Branch swinging away from the Main Line. The Animas River can be seen on the other side of the Farmington Branch. The Farmington Branch and the Animas River were closely linked by several large bridges almost all the way to Farmington. The gravel road beyond the river is the La Posta Road, which ran through the South Animas Valley for about eight miles, joining US Highway 550 South near Bondad, Colorado.
Denver and Rio Grande Western 488, a Class K-36 Mikado (2-8-2) is on the point of an eastbound livestock train approaching Windy Point, a mile west of Cumbres . The helper is 499, a Class K-37. The steam classes on the Rio Grande Railroad, both standard and narrow gauge, were based on tractive effort. Suffice to say that a K-37 could wrestle one more loaded car up Cumbres Pass than could a K-36. Note that the K-37 is at full steam pressure as the pop valve is releasing excess steam. A guess on the speed would be about 10 to 12 miles per hour. This picture was taken in October 1963 during the livestock rush. This is a load of sheep and the train originated at Lobato, New Mexico.
Denver and Rio Grande Western Class K-36 Mikado 488 sits at Chama, New Mexico between Cumbres Turns in October 1963. There is another locomotive just out of the picture sitting behind 488. The crews probably have one hill turn out of the way, as the sunlight would indicate the time at around 3PM. They are probably at Foster’s having a quick lunch. Afterward, they will turn the engines on the wye at the west end of Chama Yard; from the coal load in the tank, it appears that 488 has already been serviced. If so, they will assemble another Cumbres Turn and head up the hill.
Denver and Rio Grande Western 499 and 488 are on a west-bound, double-headed freight in the San Luis Valley about two miles south of Alamosa, Colorado in October 1963. The line from Alamosa to Antonito, Colorado was three rails to accommodate both standard and narrow gauges, and it ran twenty-nine miles on a north-south axis. At Antonito, the line split: the Chili Line ran to Santa Fe, New Mexico (abandoned in 1941), while the other section made a right turn onto the San Juan Extension. 499 and 488 would take coal and water at Antonito and, since this was not a heavy train (west-bound stock cars in October were going back for more; they were running empty), they would double-head all the way to Cumbres. At Cumbres, 499 would be cut off and run light the fourteen miles to Chama, followed shortly afterward by 488 with the train.