Railroad Museum to Debut 14-Year, $1.5M Steam Locomotive Restoration on August 1
GOLDEN, Colo. – The Colorado Railroad Museum is pleased to announce that Rio Grande Southern steam locomotive No. 20 will make its official public debut on Saturday, August 1, 2020. On that day, a brief ceremony at 10 a.m. will end with a banner-breaking, followed by Steam Train Rides for the rest of the day until 3 p.m.—pulled by No. 20, of course! Locomotive No. 20 has a fascinating past, working for two of Colorado’s colorful narrow-gauge railroads beginning in 1899, and also starring in two movies!
This historic locomotive’s first service was on the Florence & Cripple Creek, running north from Florence and Canon City via Phantom Canyon, to the Cripple Creek and Victor gold mining districts southwest of Pike’s Peak. The F&CC ceased operations in 1915. Locomotive No. 20 was then purchased second-hand by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, a cash-strapped line in Southwestern Colorado. The line ran between Durango and Ridgway, and is perhaps best known for its homemade “Galloping Geese” self-propelled railcars. No. 20 even starred in two Hollywood movies circa 1950, “Ticket to Tomahawk” and “Viva Zapata.” The locomotive was last steamed up in the early 1950s. It was then acquired by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club and placed on display in Alamosa. No. 20 moved to Golden in 1959, when the Colorado Railroad Museum was established at its present-day site.
In 2006, Rio Grande Southern No. 20 began a journey that would last 14 years and cost over $1.5 million along the way. Following a generous lead gift by a donor who hoped his father could see the locomotive again operate, it traveled to Strasburg, Pennsylvania for a complete overhaul. There, No. 20 spend 12 long years having its boiler, frame, running gear and tender disassembled, assessed, and painstakingly restored. The work took much longer than expected because, as it turned out, the locomotive had been pretty much “worn out” by its second owner. Last summer, with its boiler and running gear work largely complete, the locomotive returned to Golden in pieces. Since that time, restoration specialists have been hard at work completing final plumbing, reassembly and testing.
No. 20’s restoration marks a milestone for the Museum. For more information about No. 20 and its Grand Debut on August 1, please visit the Museum’s website at www.ColoradoRailroadMuseum.org.
About the Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado’s railroads have unlocked transformations that are still expanding our world today. They accelerated settlement of the state, made ordinary experiences available to ordinary people, connected Colorado and the West with America, and have been a catalyst for innovation. The Colorado Railroad Museum celebrates this rich heritage throughout the year with exhibits, events, programs and more. For more information, please visit www.ColoradoRailroadMuseum.org.