A Colorado Steam Excursion

Rio Grande Southern locomotive #74 is seen here heading up an excursion train, likely being hosted by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. It’s September of 1952, and Mr. Radcliffe has photographed the train somewhere between Placerville and Vance Junction, Colorado.

The #74 had quite a varied career. She was built in 1898 by Brooks for the Colorado & Northwestern as their #30. The road was eventually reorganized as the Denver, Boulder and Western, where she retained her number 30. After this line went defunct, she eventually went to the Colorado & Southern, and was renumbered as their 74. They retired her, and the RGS, always looking for the bargain, picked her up in November of 1948. She received repairs and some small modifications and entered service in January, 1949.

Her life on the RGS was short though, with the railroad shutting down in 1951. She was sold to a private owner in 1952, and ended up on display at a park in Boulder, Colorado. In 2004 she was removed, and brought to Strasburg, Colorado for a restoration (possibly to operation). After intensive work and inspection, it was finally determined that she required too much work to restore to operation, so she was restored to a cosmetic state in a joint venture of the West-Side Locomotive Company and the Colorado Railroad Museum. But its present location is somewhat a mystery, as the CRM doesn’t list her as displayed. The best I can determine is that the locomotive is still owned by the City of Boulder, but I’ve not found any indication that she is back there. [update: I’ve been informed by Mr. Robert Kramer of the CRM that #74 is still with them, on loan from the City of Boulder]

The 2-8-0 is a bit unusual due to the canted design of her steam chests. I understand that this was to accommodate it’s rather large boiler. Unfortunately the design resulted in severe lubrication problems for the locomotive over it’s life. But considering she was under steam for over 50 years, apparently the crews learned how to overcome the problem.

RGS 2-8-0 #74

2 thoughts on “A Colorado Steam Excursion

  1. An update to the post: I’ve been informed by Mr. Robert Kramer of the Colorado Railroad Museum that #74 is still with them, on loan from the City of Boulder. I’ve updated the post to indicate this.


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