When you hear rumors of something as big as this, you don't want to publish anything prematurely. For example, Wagon Wheel Gap has been stirring for years, but fights with the residents of Creede have nearly destroyed chances of getting the railroad up and running.
However, when I saw the photos, there's no refuting it. The Colorado & Southern narrow gauge lives once again in the mountains of Colorado!
Number 9 was built in February 1884 by Cooke for the Denver, South Park & Pacific. Originally numbered 72, the 2-6-0 Consolidation was renumbered 114 a year later in 1885. Four years later, when the DSP&P was reorganized by the Union Pacific as the Denver, Leadville, & Gunnison Railway, it retained that number. In 1893, the Union Pacific went into receivership, as did it's subsidiaries, but the DL&G obtained a separate receivership, which ended in 1898 with the formation of the Colorado & Southern. It was renumbered to 9 the following year. Two years later, it was rebuilt in 1901 and again in 1917. In the late teens, like all other C&S locomotives, it was equipped with the Ridgeway Spark Arrestor, more commonly known as a Bear Trap Stack. It hauled passengers and freight from Denver to Leadville and Breckenridge on the old Denver, Leadville & Gunnison route and from Denver to Blackhawk, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and Silver Plume on the Colorado Central's Clear Creek branch.
From 1929 to 1939, the C&S began to scrap number 9's sister engines, numbers 4 - 13. By the late 1930's, the Great Depression and changing times had slowed the traffic to a trickle and the C&S began to dismantle most of it's narrow gauge lines and convert the rest to standard gauge. No. 9 had the distinction of hauling the last C&S narrow gauge passenger train in 1937 from Leadville to Denver. It was sent to the New York World's Fair 1939 - 1940, stored in Aurora, Illinois until the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948 - 1949, stored again in Aurora, Illinois, and then sent to the Black Hills Central Railroad in Hill City, South Dakota for display in 1957. In 1988, the Burlington Northern, who had control of the C&S, donated the engine to the Colorado Historical Society. Two years ago, in 2004, it was sent to Uhrich Locomotive Works in Strasburg, Colorado, to be restored to full operation. According to the CHS, Uhrich casted and manufactured over 100 parts to restore the locomotive. Uhrich charged the CHS approximately $231,825. Uhrich delivered No. 9 to the Georgetown Loop Railroad around a month ago and Railstar has spent the last month fine tuning it and getting it ready.
Yesterday, on August 1st, 2006, Colorado Day, it made it's debut on the restored Georgetown Loop Railroad with photo runbys and excursions. It was a scene repeated from nearly a century ago, pulling tourists over Colorado's "far-famed Loop."
- To ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad, visit their website for more information.
- A map of the C&S narrow gauge system
- A period map of the C&S
- A photo of Number 9, "back in the day"
- Machines of Iron Colorado & Southern Narrow Gauge DVD