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.