Last call at the canyon. After more than 15 years in intermittent service, Grand Canyon Railway Consolidation #29 makes her last call at the Grand Canyon Village Depot on October 26th, 2019, during a Trains Magazine Photo Charter. With just one more service day remaining on her Form 4 extension, this engine would be heading back to Williams with no schedule for any future return. At present, the Grand Canyon Railway's steam program is limited to about 10 operating days per year, generally running on the daily trip to the canyon on the first Saturday of most months. With such a limited scope, and another steam locomotive (#4960) that still has about 7 years left on its Form 4, the railroad really doesn't need two active steam engines. During a Saturday evening dinner presentation to our charter group, the railroad's CMO indicated that he had prepared a formal proposal to rehab and recertify this engine, along with a detailed budget, and that these would be forwarded to top management for consideration. He had no predictions as to when or if it might be acted on. For now, the engine will be drained, winterized and placed on static display at the Williams Depot for patrons of the Polar Express to enjoy and use as a photo prop. My personal guess is that it will be a few years before the 29 runs again, but as the clock on the 4960 begins to run down, the railroad may get started on her, so they will have another steamer ready to carry the torch when the 4960 comes due for a 1,472 SDI....again, just my speculation. Let's hope we see her sooner rather than later. She's a great performer, not to mention one of the most handsome-looking standard gauge 2-8-0s in existence.
The Grand Canyon Railroad, operating a 64-miles former Santa Fe branch to the eponymous natural wonder, is one of the best tourist railroads in the United States. It operates both steam and diesel locomotives.