Standing guard in the Silverton Yard. Looking a bit forlorn, and certainly a bit worse for wear, Denver & Rio Grande Western K-37 #493 stands guard over the small railroad yard on the east side of Silverton, Colorado, attached to a short work train. Last run by the D&RGW, the 493 was retired back in 1970 after freight operations had ended on the narrow gauge. One of 10 K-37s built, the 493 was "born" a standard gauge Consolidation in 1902, and was rebuilt as an outside-frame, narrow gauge Mikado in 1928. In the latter years of the D&RGW Narrow Gauge System, these K-37s, along with the K-36 class, were the workhorses of the line.
Although 8 of these engines survived into the tourist era, only two of the sisters, the 491 and 497, ever ran in tourist service. The 491 was recently restored at the Colorado Railroad Museum, and is in service there on their insular trackage. The 497 ran on both the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Alas, today, the 497 sits in one of the old roundhouse stalls in Chama, in need of a 1,472-day inspection....and perhaps more significant repairs, awaiting a day when the C&TS needs additional power. For the other 6 K-37s, such as the 493 here, there is little to hope for, other than a fresh coat of paint now and then. The K-37s had a reputation for being hard on maintenance and hard on track. For now, as long as 9 members of the K-36 class still exist, it is not likely that any of the 6 rusting, weathering K-37s will hear another call to duty.
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.