After running engine lite to Hermosa, Southern Pacific T-44 18, the "Slim Princess," prepares to take on water while waiting for the arrival of train 463.
The 18 was originally built in 1911 by Baldwin for the Nevada–California–Oregon Railway (NCO) as No. 12 until it was sold to Southern Pacific (SP) in 1926. It was renumbered to 18 and worked the rest of its career on SP's narrow-gauge lines. It ran until 1955, when it was donated to the city of Independence, CA, where it sat on display until an operational restoration began in 2010 & completed in 2017 by the Eastern California Museum. In late 2018, the engine was leased by the Durango & Silverton for 6 months so crews could begin learning to oil fire in anticipation for their first oil conversion with K-37 493 in early 2020.
With the conversion of the D&S fleet to oil in full swing in 2021, the D&S found itself short of power for the summer & fall of that year. To help fill in the gap, the 18 was once again leased for that time frame to serve in helper service with the heavier Silverton trains (463).
While both occasions have provided railfans an awesome chance to see this engine in mountainous territory it never would have ran & to see it really try to put on a show, lets just say from what a friend or two who actually got to operate it, it definitely, lets say, got put to the test on this line to put it kindly.