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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Cumbres & Toltec holds first test run for 136-year-old Rio Grande locomotive NEWSWIRE

Cumbres & Toltec holds first test run for 136-year-old Rio Grande locomotive NEWSWIRE

By Justin Franz | September 30, 2019

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Denver & Rio Grande No. 168 makes its first test run in the Antonito, Colo., yard on Sept. 27, 2019.
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

ANTONITO, Colo. — One of the country’s smallest and oldest steam locomotives was doing its best to grab the spotlight this weekend, even as two of America’s largest and most modern steamers — Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 in Wyoming and Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 at Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road — were attracting crowds.

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.

No. 168 has been under restoration for the last few years and will be matched up with a set of historic wooden passenger cars currently under construction to replicate the Rio Grande’s San Juan Express. The completed train will likely be one of the highlights of next year’s 50th anniversary celebration of the C&TS.

The Cumbres & Toltec received Trains Magazine’s 2018 preservation grant for its work on No. 168. [See “Western narrow gauge steam locomotive wins Trains’ 2018 Preservation Award,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 10, 2018.]

4 thoughts on “Cumbres & Toltec holds first test run for 136-year-old Rio Grande locomotive NEWSWIRE

  1. D&RG was retired in 1938, so hasn’t run in 81 years. It was retired after 55 years of service. Its amazing the a locomotive that served for so many years and on display for even more years is operating again.

  2. Anna,
    The number escapes me but there is a sister of the 168 on display in Alamosa. I don’t know why it was not considered for restoration but I am sure there was a reason they used the 168 from Colorado Springs.

  3. I’m of two minds concerning steaming 168. On one hand, concerning my attachment to the C&T (kinown in some acerbic circles as the D&C) and the D&S (ibid), I am happy any time any of the old iron wakes up. On the other hand, we are dealing with a fairly brittle 136 year old artifact of which there is precisely one, and it is brittle and it should not be stressed.

    Of course the same comment could be made concerning any of the Mikes, they are brittle and some are in daily use. Even fifty years ago there were problems keeping them glued together. I do wonder sometimes how much longer these machines can be made to run without extensive rebuilding, And if so, would we have a “ship of Theseus” paradox?

    The above comments are generic in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. Find your own group solipsist.

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