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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
D&RGW 315 has been a part of many events at both the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. Below you can see pictures of the events that D&RGW 315 participated in.
We ran no excursions in 2015 because we were concentrating on restoring four rail cars under a new grant from the State Historical Fund and a reefer with other funds.
After the Chama Steam excursion on the C&TS in September and October 2013, the 315 was stored in Antonito for the winter until another Chama Steam excursion and an opening day event with the C&TS in May.
The three-day Chama Steam event started on May 17 with the 315 pulling a Maintenance Of Way (MOW) train out of Antonito. The MOW train included the Pile Driver OB, its service Flatcar 06008, a water service tank car, Tool Car 04549, a rider gondola, and three cabooses. At Hangman’s Trestle a photo was staged with only the 315 and OB with its boom raised. An actual pile driving demonstration with OB took place at Big Horn. Run-bys were performed as the full train proceeded to Osier, followed by a night shoot at that water tank.
After sleeping in the restaurant at Osier, the crew and passengers were treated to a mixed freight for something different. The train made a round trip to Toltec siding in the morning and Los Pinos in the afternoon. Riders gladly helped load coal into the tender between runs. They had another night shoot and sleeping at Osier.
On the third day, after switching at Osier to reorganize the freight and MOW consists, they headed back to Antonito with run-bys on the way.
May 17. The 315 pile driver train leaves Antonito for Big Horn, where, after the 315 turned at Lava Tank, it and Pile Driver OB provided a demonstration for the photographers. Two photos by Roger HoganC&TS Opening Day
For the C&TS opening day, May 24, the 315 double headed with the 463. The 315, a smaller C-18, took the lead with the 463, a larger K-27, 463, as the road engine. The 315 was cut off at Cumbres and ran light, ahead of the train, down the 4% grade to Chama. This was the third time 315 has doubled headed with 463. A few weeks after the excursion, 315 and tender were separated and trucked back to Silverton ending almost a year residing in Chama and Antonito.
The 315 double heads with the 463 for the opening day run from Antonito. Jerry Day
CHAMA PHOTO SPECIAL
The 315’s four day photo special on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad was heralded a great success. Together with recently restored K-27 #463, the 315 performed flawlessly throughout this unique event which involved a one night sleep-over at Osier depot for those participants who wished to.
Lobato Siding. Mark Kasprowicz
The 315 sounded as square as on the day it left the Baldwin factory as it hauled a consist of 5500 stock cars, a common sight at this time of year back in the 30’s and 40’s, when livestock was brought down from summer pasture. Known as the ‘stock rush’ this pressed into service as many of the 5500 and 5900 series stock cars as could be found in a serviceable (and sometimes not so serviceable!) condition.
View of the 315 from the cupola of D&RGW caboose #0503 Pauline Kasprowicz
With Soni Honnegar as engineer and Dave Hibl and others firing, the 315 helped re-enact this memory as well as double heading with the 463 on longer, more diverse, freights.
The sole disappointment to the event was the expected fall colors, usually stunning here at this of year, failed to materialize. But there again fall has been at least two weeks late here in the South West this year.
There was a little drama on one day when a caboose was derailed while being backed into the Labato siding. The following day the #463’s training wheels also became detailed when backing into the Osier balloon. Both incidents were quickly rectified and the trains continued to run to schedule. It was, without doubt, an incredible event.
The 315 will remain in Antonito through Winter 13-14. It has already been moved to the C&TS engine house while the Silverton Norther Engine shed will house the DRHS drop bottom and high sided gons. Matthew Malkiewicz
PREP TIME – FALL SPECIAL – CHAMA – 9/27/2013
D&RGW K-27 #463 simmers in front of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad engine shed at Chama while, inside the engine house D&RGW C-18 #315 undergoes final preparation for the four day photo freight special starting Sunday 9/30/2013. Mark Kasprowicz
RETURN TO RAILFEST
After an absence of three years, former Denver and Rio Grand Western railroad locomotive 315 returned to Colorado’s narrow gauge rails in late August as part of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s annual Railfest. Since fall 2010 it has been stored at the Silverton Northern Engine House in Silverton CO. Some remedial work needed to be carried out under the guidance of Chief Mechanical Officer Dennis D’Alessandro. A team of volunteers carried out the maintenance and safety checks needed to return it to passenger carrying service. The 315, the oldest operating D&RGW locomotive, was scheduled to operate over all three days of Railfest. The D&SNGRR supplied a four car consist made up of three passenger cars plus a concession car.
On day one, the 315 brought the train down the Animas canyon from Silverton to Durango. The following day was spent making a number of shorter passenger trips between the D&S RR depot and the wye just North of Durango, a distance of around six miles. The train was almost to capacity on all trips.
On the final day, the 315 returned to Silverton with the consist pausing along the way for some photo run bys. Feedback from the engineers indicated the locomotive performed nearly flawlessly throughout the three days. Mark Kasprowicz
We did not run the 315 in 2012. It was on display at the Silverton Northern engine house during Railfest, along with the railcar Casey Jones (owned by the San Juan County Historical Society) in front of the engine house and the restored drop bottom gondola D&RGW 871 nearby during August 17–19.
We did not run 315 in 2011. It was on display at the Silverton Northern engine house during Railfest, and we held an evening night shoot with both the 315 and the Casey Jones railcar in front of the engine house on Friday, August 19.
Maintenance work was performed during that week. During the first two days, the 315 was inside the engine house. While it was over the engine pit, we removed binders and replaced the oil pads in all the journal boxes and adjusted the wedges in the pedestals. Two modern brake pipe valves were replaced with genuine Westinghouse valves. An internal valve in the G-6 automatic brake valve was lapped.
Then the 315 was moved outside the engine house. Among the activities, the rear air compressor and throttle valve assembly were removed for inspection and maintenance.
August 20, Railfest. For the first time since the 1950s a passenger train in green and lettered with D&RGW goes to Silverton, here crossing the Silverton trestle. John West
August 20. A view south in Animas Canyon from near Silverton. John West
August 21. The parade of trains ended at the Durango depot with the 1895 D&RGW 315 side by side with the 1875 wood burning Eureka, and the 1933 Goose No. 5. Yvonne Lashmett
September 3. Private charter on C&TS crosses Cascade Trestle on its way to Cumbres to pick up more cars for the trip to Antonito. George Niederauer
September 13. Excursion on preceding the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Colorado Springs, crossing the San Luis Valley with 14,345-ft Mount Blanca in the background. Russell Sperry
September 13. Night shoot at the C&TS coal tower. Michael Ripley
September 14. Before Phantom Curve with a consist of loaded flat cars on the way to Cumbres. David Dye
June 16. The first excursion on the C&TS, here descending from Lava Mesa. Jim Granflaten
June 18. The second excursion on C&TS, for an evening dinner and moonlight photos; hereon the high desert. John Parker
July 7. The consist on the fifth excursion on C&TS was a train of stock cars. Paul Hogan
July 7. Emerging westbound from the Rock Tunnel. Stefan Niederauer
July 7. Night photo shoot in Chama – photo looks like it could have been taken in the 1930s, except for the sign on the water tank. Michael Ripley
July 9. The sixth excursion on C&TS, climbing out of Chama eastbound to Cumbres. John West
August 20. Back in the Durango roundhouse, where the 315 was serviced. Michael Ripley
August 22, Railfest. Galloping Goose #5 from Dolores passes by the 315 at Cascade Canyon. David Fluit
August 23, Railfest. The 315 sits across Tenth Street for a photo op with 473 (with flags because it pulled the Presidential Special) and 481 on the main track. Jim Granflaten
August 23: Railfest. Although not yet quite ready to run, the 315 was pulled out of the roundhouse to the delight of the crowd at the President’s Reception. Yvonne Lashmett
August 24; Railfest. The restored 315 steams out of the roundhouse under its own power for the first time in 58 years. Darel Crawford
September 7. Ready for its first road test, running light (pulling no train). Yvonne Lashmett
September 18. The 315 is taking a train to Cascade Canyon for its first load test. Jim Granflaten
September 26. On its first public excursion, in Animas Canyon at the north end of Elk Park with the Grenadier Range in the background. Darel Crawford
September 28. On the third day of excursions, the 315 heads back to Durango on the High Line, 200 feet above the river. Darel Crawford
October 7. Flying American flags on the Appreciation Run for volunteers and supporters who were responsible for restoring the 315, courtesy of D&SNG and the Durango Chamber of Commerce. John Manley
Durango Railroad Historical Society is comprised of a dedicated group of individuals who are united by their interest in narrow gauge railroading and focus on the preservation of southwest Colorado’s railroad history.
The Durango Railroad Historical Society is a non-profit corporation in Colorado and is a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.