Golden, CO (June 4th, 2019) – The famous Rio Grande Southern Locomotive No. 20 will be rolling into the Colorado Railroad Museum today after undergoing restoration in Strasburg Pennsylvania for the past 12 years. While the locomotive is 80% complete, the remaining work will be done here at the Colorado Railroad Museum under the supervision of Jeff Taylor, Curator of Rolling Stock and Equipment.
Originally built for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad in 1899, Locomotive No. 20 was a narrow gauge engine that could climb the winding and steep Phantom Canyon to Colorado’s last gold mining bonanza – Cripple Creek. Christened “Portland” after one of the area mines, the locomotive was a powerful ten wheeler (4-6-0) measuring 49’ from engine to tender and weighing 85,000 lbs.
By the late 1930s, Locomotive No. 20 had become a fan favorite and was often requested by tourists or railway clubs for excursions. Hollywood “discovered” the locomotive and in 1949 it was used in the film, A Ticket to Tomahawk. The 1899 engine was redressed to an 1876 look for its role as the Emma Sweeny.
In 2006, the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club transferred ownership of Locomotive No. 20 to the Colorado Railroad Museum. A generous donation was provided to bring Locomotive No.20 back to operational condition with the stipulation that it be rebuilt by the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania. Locomotive No. 20 was then sent to Strasburg in August of 2006 to begin the restoration process.
About the Colorado Railroad Museum: Robert W. Richardson and Cornelius W. Hauck opened the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1959. Then, and now, our mission is dedicated to preserving for future generations a tangible record of Colorado’s dynamic railroad era and particularly its pioneering, narrow gauge mountain railroads.
In 1964, the nonprofit Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation was formed to assume ownership and operation of the Museum. The Colorado Railroad Museum has over 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, an HO Model Railroad, and a G-scale garden railway on our 15-acre railyard. We also have a research library with over 34,000 railroad books, photos, artifacts, and archival records.