Legendary Steam Engine Returns
Historic 136-Year-Old Railroad in Southwestern Colorado to Unveil Fully-Restored Legendary Steam Engine During 2018 Winter Photography Train, Feb. 17-18; Additional Locomotive Provides Added Depth, Longer Maintenance Windows, And Greater Flexibility to Entire D&SNGRR Fleet
DURANGO, Colo. — September 27, 2017 — The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (DSNGRR)™, which offers distinctive year-round rail experiences and special events to passengers of all ages in the remote, scenic wilderness and high-mountain landscape of Colorado’s San Juan National Forest, today announced the long-awaited return to service of D&SNGRR Locomotive No. 476 following an extensive, multi-year rebuild and restoration. The legendary K-28 steam engine will make its highly-anticipated reappearance during the company’s 2018 winter photography train, Feb. 17-18.
The rebuild, restoration, and return of service of No. 476 marks another significant milestone in the ongoing growth and development of this company, and further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to preserving all aspects of Colorado’s rich and fascinating railroading history,” said Allen C. Harper, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of American Heritage Railways, and head of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. “The D&SNGRR roundhouse crew did a tremendous job, and devoted thousands of man hours over several years, to repairing No. 476 and getting it into tip-top condition; the end result will be on display during next year’s winter photography train. Finally, the addition of No. 476 to the D&SNGRR fleet gives us six locomotives in the rotation, and provides much-needed operational depth for greater engine scheduling and maintenance flexibility. Originally constructed in 1923 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco), No. 476 serviced the entire Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) during its heyday, including transporting the San Juan Express passenger train from Durango to Alamosa, Colorado. In 1969, along with sister engines No. 473 and 478, No. 476 became the primary motive power on the Silverton line, and it notably hauled the very first D&SNGRR passenger train in 1981. The stately engine has not been in service since 1999.
“Although the rationale behind rebuilding No. 476 was adding to the DS&NGRR’s locomotive fleet, it also has given our maintenance staff the opportunity to take a project to a different level than they normally would have the chance to do,” added D&SNGRR mechanical foreman Randy Babcock, who supervised all of the work on the rebuilt locomotive. “We’re always pressed for time getting our engines ready to run, so the chance to work on a multi-year rebuild allowed our crew to expand its skill set, especially in the finer points of boilermaking and locomotive machining. No. 476 is really just the first of our engines to receive some of this work.
“With the introduction of revised Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations in 2001, the D&SNGRR maintenance team has had to do things to No.476 that had already been done years ago to our other locomotives,” Babcock continued. “In addition to the FRA-mandated repairs and inspections, the crew has rebuilt the locomotive’s wheels and drivers; replaced the smoke box; repaired some cylinder and frame problems; switched out its front and rear flue sheets; and revamped the boiler. Our goal is to make sure No. 476, and all of our steam locomotives, are around for the next generation to experience”.
On Sat., Feb. 17 and Sun., Feb. 18, 2018, the D&SNGRR is hosting its annual winter photography train rides for amateurs and professionals. The railroad will announce ticket prices and the event’s full schedule in the coming weeks.