News & Reviews News Wire Colorado museum says Rio Grande Southern locomotive will run in 2020 NEWSWIRE

Colorado museum says Rio Grande Southern locomotive will run in 2020 NEWSWIRE

By Angela Cotey | February 4, 2020

| Last updated on November 3, 2020

Restoration began in 2006 nears completion, but trip to Cumbres & Toltec for August event is unlikely

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Rio Grande Southern No. 20, its restoration continuing, shares the roundhouse with operational Rio Grande 2-8-2 No. 491 at the Colorado Railroad Museum in June 2019.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn

GOLDEN, Colo. — After more than a decade of work, officials with the Colorado Railroad Museum say that the restoration of Rio Grande Southern 4-6-0 No. 20 is entering its final phase. Jeff Taylor, the curator of rolling stock and equipment, says that if everything goes according to plan, the legendary 3-foot gauge locomotive will be under steam in its home state this summer.

Locomotive No. 20 has been under restoration since 2006 when it was sent to the Strasburg Rail Road. In 2019, the locomotive ran under its own power for the first time in 67 years [See: “Rio Grande Southern No. 20 steams for the first time since 1951,” Trains News Wire, May 23, 2019]. Afterward, the locomotive was trucked back to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden for the final assembly.

Taylor says in recent months, the locomotive and tender have been reunited, the cab has been reinstalled, and various appliances have been added. “We’re getting there,” Taylor tells Trains News Wire.

The restoration has cost approximately $1.5 million. 

Locomotive No. 20 was built by the Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1899 for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad in central Colorado. In 1916, it was sold to the Rio Grande Southern, where it ran until December 1951.

Officials are not exactly sure when the locomotive will finally run but they are already planning a big celebration when it does. “Come see locomotive No. 20 in 2020,” Taylor says.

While some were hopeful that the locomotive would be able to attend this summer’s 19th-century steam celebration on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic [See: “Cumbres & Toltec announces schedule for 19th-century locomotive event,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 27, 2020], Taylor says the locomotive will most likely stay in Golden this year. However, both the C&TS and Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad have invited the Colorado Railroad Museum to bring No. 20 to their lines in the future. “We want to make that happen,” Taylor says.

For more information, visit the museum website.

5 thoughts on “Colorado museum says Rio Grande Southern locomotive will run in 2020 NEWSWIRE

  1. Mister Brown:

    The RGS was lifted in 1953/1954, so by the 1960’s it was but a memory. When I was in Duranto in the mid ’60s there was a switch coming out of the yard and a stub going across the Animas River (Rio de los Animas Perdidos) and paralleling US 160. It went up onto the hillside there and stopped, but I understand this was the old RGS main. It was used for storage when I was there – a couple of defunct engines, stock cars out of season, that sort of thing.

    The switch tag was red, as I recall (it has been more than fifty years) and I want to say it was a harp stand – though that could easily be wrong,

    The above comments are cynical in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. It lives now only in my memory.

  2. The Rio Grande Southern RR became my “go-to” railroad when I learned of its existence in the 1960s. Engine #20 was one of my favorites and to see it steam again would be mind-blowing. Miles and miles of running on the RGS narrow gauge rails in the majestic San Juan Mountains. Kudos to the Colorado Railroad Museum and its supporters for taking this project on! Fire her up!!

  3. Although I never saw it run, it would be nice to see it on its home rails. Yes I know it was RGS – but before that it was DRGW.

  4. Anna is correct – I visited Durango in 1961 and 1962 and there was a scruffy track that went off (in a northwesterly direction ?? – not sure of that). We were told that it was the old RGS main line and that a bit further along the roadbed was very discernible. Nice to hear that work on # 20 is nearly finished.

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