On the loop at Lava. Moments after dawn, a Denver & Rio Grande mixed train rounds the loop at Lava Tank, near MP 291.4, on its westbound run toward Chama, NM, via Cumbres Pass. The power this morning is an 1895-vintage Baldwin, C-18 Consolidation, Locomotive #425, acquired in 1917 from the defunct Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad.
Despite its small size, this particular locomotive enjoyed a fairly long career with the D&RG and later, the Denver & Rio Grande Western (DRGW), where she was renumbered as 315. At the end of its operational life, it served as the switcher in the Durango Yard. When it was retired in 1949 and slated for scrapping, it was noticed and saved by a Durango businessman, who convinced the railroad to lease and later donate the engine to the City of Durango as a static display recognizing the city's railroad heritage. It was displayed in Durango in a couple of city parks for many years. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it received some cosmetic maintenance from local fan groups, which eventually formed the Durango Railroad Historical Society (DRHS), ultimately restoring the locomotive to operational condition in 2007. In the ensuing 14 years, the locomotive has performed on numerous fan excursions and photographic charters on both the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. In 2014, the City of Durango donated the engine to the DRHS, and the group is now solely responsible for operations and maintenance on the engine. The operation depicted in my photograph here is for a September, 2021 photo charter organized by Lerro Photography. At the time of the event, this was scheduled to be 315/425's last operation, before undergoing a scheduled 1,472 Service Day Inspection. We expect to see her back in action as soon as that work can be completed.
A continuously growing album of photos that IMHO reveal the awesome and seldom seen beauty of railroads from the dimming of day to dawn's early light! From dusk to dawn, trains roll on! (I'm still finding sunset to sunrise surprises!)
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.