On Friday night, 3-foot gauge Denver & Rio Grande 4-6-0 No. 168 ran for the first time in 70 years, following an extensive restoration at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Friday’s test run consisted of a brief trip around the Antonito yard. C&TS Assistant General Manager Stathi Pappas says the 136-year-old Baldwin locomotive was being fired up again on Monday for another test.
“The test went great,” Pappas says of the locomotive’s first run since 1938.
|Engine 168 in Black Canyon
of the Gunnison in 1904
Engine 168 is an important historic artifact to Colorado and to railroading. While it's a steam engine, something that last roamed the rails en masse 70 years ago, it's also narrow gauge, designed to run on rails 3 feet apart, rather than the standard 4 feet 8½ inches apart. There are dozens of these narrow gauge engines in the state of Colorado already, and they're all worthy of preservation. What makes 168 so unique is that it is one of two surviving class T-12 locomotives built in 1883 for General William Palmer's original vision of the D&RG connecting Denver with El Paso and Mexico City.
|168 Awaiting President Taft in Montrose, 1909
As railroads around the state prepare to rest or at least scale back activities for the winter, it's worth contemplating how many engines are now in steam that were dry and static several years ago. Certainly, such a recounting is worth its own post! ⚒