By Justin Franz
GOLDEN, Colo. — Another 3-foot gauge steam locomotive from Colorado’s famed narrow gauge is back. The Colorado Railroad Museum has completed a 14-year-long, $1.5 million restoration of Rio Grande Southern 4-6-0 20. The locomotive will make its public debut on Aug. 1.
Jeff Taylor, curator of equipment and rolling stock, told Railfan & Railroad that the locomotive passed its federal boiler inspection in May and that test runs could begin as early as next week. “For the most part, she’s done,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “But it’s sort of like a model railroad, there’s always something to tinker with.”
Locomotive 20 has been under restoration since 2006. Part of the work was done at the Strasburg Rail Road, where the locomotive was briefly fired up in 2019. The locomotive was then sent back to Colorado in pieces where the group in Golden has been slowly piecing it back together. The locomotive was built by the Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1899 for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad. It was sold to the Rio Grande Southern — which operated between Durango and Ridgeway — in 1916 and ran until 1951. The locomotive was briefly put on display before being moved to the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1959.
Taylor said the locomotive will be used on short excursions at the museum along with its other two 3-foot gauge steamers: Denver & Rio Grande Western 2-8-0 346 and 2-8-2 K-37 491. The museum hopes to eventually take the locomotive to other railroads, including the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic.