Turn-of-the-Century Workhorses. Denver & Rio Grande Western Locomotives 463 and 315 prepare to depart eastbound from the Cumbres & Toltec Dining Hall at Osier Colorado with a pair of photo freights. These two locomotives are very much representative of the state of the art in narrow gauge power right around the dawn of the 20th century. Locomotive 315 is a C-18 Consolidation type, built in 1895 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works with a tractive effort of roughly 18,000 lbs. The 463 is a K-27 type, also built by Baldwin, just 8 years after the 315 in 1903. She has a tractive effort of 27,000 lbs and was considered a heavy hauler in her time. The K-27 series was one of the first classes to incorporate a significant change in the design of steam locomotives on the Rio Grande in that an outside frame was used. This allowed the frame to be wider, accommodating larger boilers and thus increasing the power potential. The outside frame engines had a distinctly different look to them and those differences can easily be seen in this photo. On the inside frame 315, the driving wheels are clearly visible, whereas on the 463, the drivers are on the inside of the frame and the wheels are barely visible behind the large counterweights that you see on each axle. Although some other narrow gauge lines continued to procure inside frame engines, virtually all of the D&RGW's future power utilized the outside frame concept, including the K-28, K-36 and K-37 classes which followed in later years.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are all that remains of the legendary Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge system. Here you'll find some of my favorites from these two beautiful railways.