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The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad will begin the 2017 season on May 27th with two special double-headed trains. Locomotives 315 and 463 will pull the opening day train from Antonito to Chama; while a pair of K-36 locomotives will pull the first train from Chama to the summit of Cumbres Pass and then on to Antonito. Tickets can be booked through the railroad’s web site at cumbrestoltec.com or by calling 888-286-2737. Tanglefoot Curve. 315 and 463 double heading at C&TS NG Rendezvous in 2016. (photo: Mark Kasprowicz)


Last spring we were getting a good start on Emma Sweeny early in the season and were sure we would finish and hold a celebration in the fall. By mid summer we had made good progress on four rail cars that had to be completed this fall to meet terms of our State Historical Fund grant. However, the devil is in the details, and the final details took up the remaining time in the fall, causing us to stop work on Emma Sweeny. We will pick up again in the spring and finish for sure in 2017.

Right side of tender with piping painted and with banner and ship painting with artwork on vinyl sign material.

We did accomplish several tasks since reporting in our August newsletter. We installed the two full-length rain gutters along the roof edge and the two metal storm windows that swing out from the side of the cab. We installed most of the remaining piping under the cab. We sealed and painted many parts, which certainly brightened up Emma Sweeny. The exceptional new addition was the red and yellow banner for TOMAHAWK & WESTERN and the ship pictures with associated scrollwork on the tender. We had a precise photo of one part of the banner and fuzzy images from a VHS tape of the rest of it. From that we recreated the banner design, with much help from Jon Hammel of Denton Signs, who also made and applied the vinyl material to the tender. Tom Hahl made the two signboards for the sides of the boiler, recreating the edge molding. We will paint, letter them with EMMA SWEENY and mount them in the spring. Denton Signs made stencils for scrollwork on the cab and steam chests, which will be used to paint this artwork in brass in the spring.(Text and Photo: George Niederauer)



As the weather turns colder in the San Juans so the opportunities for working on our four current projects become fewer. But the timetable for completing our restoration of two D&RGW Stock Cars, 5564 and 5627, Bunk Car 04432 And Flanger OT expires on the 31 March 2017 and the weather in Silverton between now and then prevents any work on the cars. So the cars had to be finished before the first snows of winter 2016/ 17 arrived. And we managed it.


Both Stock cars, double decked 5564 and single deck 5627, had much of the rotting woodwork replaced at Arboles Timberwrights, moved to Holts Sheet Metal in Durango for refitting of doors and eventually transported to Silverton in September 2015 where they stood on the transfer track. But some work still needed to be done before they could be considered ‘complete’. That included replacing some of the door hardware and lettering both cars. First job though was to replace the floors in the doorways of the double decked car 5564. On closer inspection we found that the upper floor was in good condition and so we left the orignal in place. However the lower floor had rotted badly in the door area and the boards were replaced, painted with linseed oil and the floor edges painted black to match the rest of the car.

The completed 5564 stands on our transfer siding in Silverton. D&RGW double decked stock car 5564, rebuilt to post war standard, stands on our transfer siding in Silverton.(Ph0to: George Niederauer)

Originally the corners of the door frames were lined with 1/4″ angled sheet metal to protect the wood. We had three serviceable liners and had five more made up by Rusty’s Welding in Ignacio, CO. The doors were missing a number of fittinga. We found two replacements for the distinctive door handles and had patterns for the door latches I-bolts and cleats and these too were fabricated in Ignacio. 5564 was missing a grab iron, brake wheel and retainer, replacements were found in our stores. Once all the missing detail parts were fitted and painted, lettering followed.

D&RGW single deck stock in post 1926 (rebuild) paint and lettering and the cars were complete well ahead of the deadline.(Photo: George Niederauer) D&RGW single deck stock in post 1926 (rebuild) paint and lettering.(Photo: George Niederauer)

The stock cars are now complete, photos taken and reports sent to the Colorado State Historical Fund which provided 75% of the funding.

For further reading about the restoration of these two Stock cars go HERE.


BUNK CAR 04432

Box Outfit Car 04432 stands completed outside the SN Engine Shed in Silverton. Box Outfit Car 04432 stands completed outside the SN Engine Shed in Silverton.

Box Outfit or Bunk car 04432, was in better shape all round but still needed a new roof and replacement of window frames, glass and doors. Much of the work was carried out on private land south of Durango and the car was eventually transported to Silverton where it was lettered and now stands in the Silverton Northern Engine Shed where it will winter.

More on this car HERE.



D&RGW Flanger OT returned to is 1942 condition whe igt had just been rebuilt (Photo; George Niederauer) D&RGW Flanger OT returned to its 1942 condition when it had just been rebuilt (Photo: George Niederauer)

D&RGW Flanger OT was rebuilt in 1942 and much of the wooden frame was replaced with steel so no major structural work was needed. However some of the pipe work and operating equipment had been fitted later in the cars’ history and these were removed and the car reverted to its earlier guise just after it was rebuilt. It carries the later grey paint and has been re-lettered.


Since the last report there has been a huge amount of progress on the rebuild of the Silverton Northern Oil Shed. The wall frame was erected in July and in mid August the roof joists finally arrived. The wall sheathing was finished in late August.

SN Oil Shed wood structure. SN Oil Shed wood structure.

Most of the plywood that was used for concrete foundation forms was reused for the roof decking. Hauling the panels up to the top of the building was made easier when a couple visitors lent a helping hand. All this was accomplished between the rainstorms that rattled through Silverton at this time. In fact no sooner had the roof panels been nailed down then another rainstorm soaked the building. Work had to cease for the building to dry out so that drip edge could be installed on the roof deck which was covered in water shield just as another rainstorm came through. The following week the corrugated metal roof appeared and San Juan County Historical Society members Steve Rich and Steve Allen volunteered to be on the roof with Zeke Zanoni and Jerry Hoffer on the ground.The work took three and a half hours and not a single panel had to be cut.

The Oil Shed wrapped and ready for winter. Wrapped and ready for winter.

In October with help from Duane Danielson, Tony Palmer, Mary Ann Dahm, and Mark Kasprowicz, house wrap was installed on the walls and plywood covers were placed on the door and window openings – the oil shed was sealed and the notorious Silverton weather could now throw what it liked against it! In spring and summer of 2017, we plan to install corrugated metal siding, build out the interior, install doors and window, and move in office furnishings and again we will be looking to volunteer work sessions to accomplish these tasks.(Jerry Hoffer)




9/10/16 – 315 AT THE C&TS RENDEZVOUS.

After a weekend on the Durango and Silverton making shorter trips from Silverton to Cascade canyon and Elk park during RailFest, it was time for our C-18, D&RGW 315 to be transported to Chama to really show it’s paces during the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroads’ Narrow Gauge Rendezvous. This Event was eagerly awaited as it would see the 315 back on C&TS rails after nearly three years, the first appearance of Goose 7 from the Colorado Railroad Museum on D&RGW track as well as K-27 #463, Goose 5 from Ridgway and Pile Driver OB in operation, all during normal C&TS operations. Fifty-seven people took up the three day pass which allowed them access to all the specials and numerous photo run-by’s. The only thing that looked slightly dubious was the weather and, sure enough, Thursday afternoon turned out wet and blustery. The 315 was first up the hill to Cumbres on the 4% grade and, because of wet rails and the six car load, wheel slip problems meant that one car had to be dropped off at Lobato siding. But the rest of the journey went off without a hitch.

It's Thursday and it's raining as D&RGW 315 departs Chama for Cumbres in front of 12 freight cars. (Photo Mark Kasprowicz) It’s Thursday and it’s raining as D&RGW 315 departs Chama up the 4% grade for Cumbres in front of 6 freight cars. (Photo Mark Kasprowicz)

The following day the group was split into two, one headed for Cumbres to ride behind the 315, the other to Antonito where both Geese were waiting. The weather had cleared and it looked like a great day ahead. There were many eager to ride in the front of Goose 7. It’s a real stretch limo and a credit to the CRRM volunteers who have lovingly restored it over the years. This was also a landmark appearance as no other piece of equipment has left Colorado RR Museum rails.

Goose 7 takes flight from CRRM as it crosses Cascade Trestle. (Photo; Mark Kasprowicz) Goose 7 takes flight from CRRM as it crosses Cascade Trestle. (Photo; Mark Kasprowicz)

The Geese met up with the 315 later in the day and the riders were treated to more run-by’s than expected. The official Rendezvous dinner took place that evening in Cumbres.

315 on it's way to Osier. (Photo; Mark Kasprowicz) 315 on it’s way to Osier. (Photo; Mark Kasprowicz)

The next day the 315 met up with the Geese quite early on. Goose 5, it turned out, was slightly disadvantaged – it has a normal automobile gearbox so can only reverse slowly, Goose 7 has an extra gearbox, fitted by the contractors who used it to tear up the RGS, which allows it to go as fast in reverse as it does forward. Steam engines also go at the same speed irrespective of direction. So it was a case of waiting taking it at Goose 5’s pace when the three reversed for a photo run-by.

315 powers its train of eleven cars plus OB up the hill towards Cumbres. (photo; Mark Kasprowicz) 315 powers its train of eleven cars plus OB up the hill towards Cumbres. (photo; Mark Kasprowicz)

On the way back to Chama 315’s train had to pick up Pile Driver OB from Osier and take it up to Chama for the next day’s demonstration. OB had been dropped there the previous day with a hot box. Repaired that day, the OB was cut into 315’s train of 11 cars to make the uphill grade to Chama. It’s a grade of 1.42% and, with OB’s extra weight, there was some speculation whether the 315 could pull the whole train up the hill especially as it had started raining! In the end the train had to stop for 20 minutes to build up steam not far from the summit but the anticipated ‘double up the hill’ did not happen.

315 eases Pile Driver OB towards the main in preparation for the journey to Cumbres. (Photo; Mark Kasprowicz) 315 powers Pile Driver OB as it drives in a telegraph pole in Cumbres. (Photo; Mark Kasprowicz)

The Sunday saw the 315 supplying steam for the Friend’s Pile Driver OB which effortlessly drove two telegraph poles into the ground in front of a large audience. After that it was double header time with the 463 as the train engine and the 315 as the road engine. Tanglefoot curve was the chosen venue and the double header did not fewer than four run-bys. The day finished with the two Geese, 315 with its freight cars and the 463 with the passenger cars returning to Chama.

It was a great Rendezvous in particular for the 315. Out of sight for nearly three years, the locomotive performed faultlessly throughout the four days thus repeating its success on the D&SNGRR a week earlier. The only fault was a generator failure which was quickly repaired over-night, testimony indeed to the DRHS’s special 315 maintenance crew and firemen. Finally here are just a handful of images of the thousands taken over the three days.



And here are some of our projects….

[easyrotator]erc_25_1435492416[/easyrotator] 315 and 463 double heading at C&TS NG Rendezvous in 2016. (photo: Mark Kasprowicz)