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.
STEAM LOCOMOTIVE #9
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, http://www.mcrr.org/, from our friends at the Midwest Central Railroad.
STEAM ENGINE NO.111
Engine 111 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1926. Upon completion, It was delivered to the International Railway of Central America in El Salvador. It was subsequently returned to the US to be used on the Sundown & Southern Railroad, which never ran it. After sitting on display in Breckenridge, Colorado, it was then moved to the Silver Plume station for rebuilding. It’s been in service here at the Loop since 2016.
DIESEL ENGINE NO. 21
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.
PARLOR COACH #100
Parlor coach #100 was built in 1930 by the Pullman Company of Illinois as part of an order placed by the National Railroad of Mexico (N de M). It was subsequently purchased by Thomas J. Hinman and re-lettered as #900 to run on the Rio Grande & San Luis Railroad in 1968.
In 1971, it was relocated to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, NM. It was used occasionally in passenger service but was mostly used as a film prop, and was notably featured in the 1975 film Bite the Bullet, starring Candice Bergen, James Coburn, and Gene Hackman.
It was acquired by the Georgetown Loop in 2015 and renamed “The Waldorf”.
ADDITIONAL ON-SITE ROLLING STOCK FOR THE RAILROAD
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
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)
Business Car –
Parlor/Dining Cars formerly of White Pass and Yukon Railroad:
Car No. 228
Car No. 282
Car No. 284 Car No. 274
Pullman Car formerly of National Railways of Mexico/Cumbres & Toltec Scenic:
Governor Bill Richardson
DIRECTIONS TO DEVIL’S GATE:
From I-70, take Exit 228 to Georgetown.
If you are on I-70 West, take a left off the ramp. If you are on I-70 East, take a right off the ramp. From here, take the first right at the roundabout. This is Argentine Street. Follow Argentine until you reach a fork in the road. Stay to the right and the road will end at the Devil’s Gate Depot.
Departures from Devil’s Gate Only
Silver Plume Depot opens May 25, 2020
DIRECTIONS TO SILVER PLUME DEPOT:
From I-70, take exit 226.
If you are on I-70 West, take a left at the stop sign and go under the interstate. If you are coming from I-70 East, take a right at the off ramp. The Silver Plume Depot will be on your left just past I-70.
The Silver Plume station is closed from October 09 through the end of the 2020 season.
Check more videos of the train on our YouTube page or shoot us an email through the below links.
Historic Rail Adventures, LLC & History Colorado