A historic black and white photo of the Georgetown Loop high bridge. One train crosses over the bridge while another crosses underneath it. 

Marvelous Machinery: Steam-powered Giants

Steam engines were the foundation of the Industrial Revolution. For nearly 120 years, steam-powered locomotives were the backbone of commerce, hauling passengers as well as cargo throughout the United States. Today, two of these "iron horses" are preserved, maintained, and operated in Georgetown and Silver Plume, Colorado. History Colorado and Historic Rail Adventures are pleased to share these train treasures with the public and welcomes your support as a rider and in their preservation efforts. 


This scenic photo features the Shay Number nine steam engine locomotive. Steam pumps out of the engine as it rolls through aspen trees in the fall. Photo of the Shay 9 on the Georgetown Loop taken by Gary Gray. 

Engine 9 is a three truck Shay type locomotive built by Lima Locomotive Works, Lima, Ohio, in 1923.

All wheels are driven on this logging locomotive by three 12"x15" vertical engines through a flexible drive line and gear reduction on the right hand (engineer's) side. To compensate for the weight of the engines the boiler sits off center to the left. This 80-ton locomotive is one of the three largest narrow gauge Shays ever built, producing 36,150 lbs. tractive effort. It carries 200-psi boiler pressure and is superheated.

The #9 originally operated on the West Side Lumber Company out of Tuolumne, California. The WSL Co. ran a maximum 72-mile main line and had many more miles of spurs in Tuolumne County. Shay 9 worked with half a dozen other Shays on the line entering into the woods making one trip a day hauling the giant logs down to the mill. The West Side lasted until the early 1960s, and was the last steam-powered narrow gauge logging railroad in the United States.

In 1966 the locomotive was obtained by the Midwest Central Railroad in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The Shay 9 was shipped by railroad flat car to Mount Pleasant and then transferred to a truck for the rest of the move to the Midwest Central Railroad.

The locomotive was lovingly operated and cared for by the volunteers at the Midwest Central Railroad for many decades. In late 2010 discussions evolved between the Midwest Central Railroad and the Georgetown Loop Railroad concerning the possibility of leasing the large and powerful Shay 9 to the Georgetown Loop Railroad. The Loop was in need of a larger locomotive to pull the ever increasing passenger loads experienced at the railroad, especially in the busy summer months. In return, the Georgetown Loop Railroad would lease its Baldwin built 2-6-2 #12 to the Midwest Central.

In February of 2011 the Shay 9 arrived in Silver Plume, Colorado as a result of a new lease agreement. The Shay 9 underwent 15 months of work in order to make the locomotive operational for the Loop railroad and officially entered service in July of 2012.

For more information and photos concerning the Shay 9 please check this website,, from our friends at the Midwest Central Railroad.


This is a photo of the Diesel Locomotive Number 1203 which was built in 1947. Currently operating at the Georgetown Loop Railroad, it features orange and black stripes across the front. 

#1203 was built in 1947 by the Porter Locomotive Works of Pittsburgh, PA for the United States Gypsum Company in Plaster City, California. It is a 660 HP, 87 ton diesel-electric locomotive on six axles with six Westinghouse traction motors (one on each axle) driven by an in-line six cylinder ALCO (American Locomotive Co.) 251 diesel engine.

It served USG in Plaster City until 1979 when it was sold for use on the Huckleberry Railroad in Flint Michigan. In August 1990 #1203 suffered a catastrophic engine failure and was set aside until sold in 2005 for use on the Georgetown Loop RR. It was rebuilt by the Sumpter Valley RR of Sumpter, Oregon and delivered to GLRR in May 2008.


This is a photo of Diesel Engine Number 21. It's body is painted a shiny black with bright red trim. It is a 1940s era diesel. 

Rocky Mountain Steel Mills (formerly Colorado Fuel & Iron) of  Pueblo donated the No. 21, a 1940s-era, 44-ton General Electric diesel/electric locomotive to the Colorado Historical Society to use for backup operations and maintenance at the park. The railroad industry nicknamed this particular type of locomotive "Critter" or "Big Critter." It pulled tons of steel ingots at the plant and operated in that capacity until the 1980s. The engine then sat idle and unnoticed in a field for many years. in 2004, staff at the plant, recognizing its historic value, made arrangements to donate it to the society.

Narrow gauge locomotives in this weigh class are becoming very rare because of modernization and the operational switch to standard gauge equipment. 




Excursion Cars/Passenger Cars
Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad:
Open gondola, No. 705
Open gondola, No. 718
Open gondola, No. 746
Open gondola, No. 1036
Open gondola, No. 1157
Open gondola, No. 1163                                                                   Open rider car, No. 1172
Covered gondola, No. 1156                                                              Covered/Open rider car, No. 1163                                                     Covered riding car, No. 3
Boxcar, No. 3038
Boxcar, No. 3219
Boxcar, No. 3748                                                                             Boxcar, No. 3116                                                                             Commissary Boxcar, No. 03071

Speeder Car and Trailers:
Fairmont A4 Speeder, CN No. 19174
Display Cars, Denver & Rio Grande Western
Refrigerator Car No. 153
Drop Bottom Gondola No. 824
Box Car No. 3582
Stock Car No. 5701
Flat Car No. 6302
Maintenance Car No. 04953

On Display:
Passenger Coach - Colorado & Southern No. 76 (on display)
Mail Car  - Colorado & Southern No. 13 (on display)
Caboose - Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 0586 (on display)

Parlor/Dining Cars formerly of White Pass and Yukon Railroad:
Car No. 228
Car No. 282
Car No. 284                                                                                     Car No. 274

Private Car formerly of National Railways of Mexico/Cumbres & Toltec Scenic:                                
Governor Bill Richardson

Double header! Pictured here is the Diesel Number 21 on the low track while the Shay Number 9 Steam engine rides across the high bridge. Both are in operation here at the Georgetown Loop Railroad.