Railroad Museum to Feature Three Operating Steam Locomotives the Weekend of May 15-16!
GOLDEN, Colo. – For the first time in its 62-year history, the Colorado Railroad Museum will have three coal-fired narrow-gauge locomotives under steam and operating for two days in May! This first-ever-of-its-kind event will offer fans of Colorado history an exciting opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a time when steam locomotives were an important part of the state’s transportation network, its economy, and its social fabric.
For this event, three different locomotives will be featured and under steam! These include Rio Grande Southern steam locomotive No. 20 (vintage 1899, it debuted in 2020 after a 14-year, $2M+ restoration); Colorado’s oldest operating steam locomotive, Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 346 (vintage 1881, celebrating its 140th birthday!); and Colorado’s largest coal-fired steam locomotive, Denver & Rio Grande Western class K-37 No. 491 (vintage 1927).
Both Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, the Museum grounds will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A parade of all three locomotives will kick things off at 9:30 a.m. each morning, with Train Rides beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing every half-hour until 3 p.m. Special double-headed steam trains will operate at 10 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. both days. Locomotive No. 491 will return to the roundhouse after the morning’s parade and remain there, under steam, for viewing and occasional demonstration trips onto the turntable.
Regular Museum Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 ages 2-17, Museum Members and under age 2 free. Train Rides: $4 adults and seniors, $2 ages 2-17, Museum Members and under age 2 ride free. Masks are required for Museum entrance, and must be worn when indoors, aboard trains, and when safe distances cannot be maintained otherwise. Social distancing guidelines remain in effect for everyone’s safety. Museum Grounds and Train Ride capacity remain limited due to pandemic-related restrictions, so advance purchase of admission and train ride tickets is strongly recommended.
This special weekend marks a milestone for the Museum. Tickets go on sale beginning April 15, 2021. For more information, or to reserve Admission and Train Ride tickets for this special Steam Days event, please visit www.ColoradoRailroadMuseum.org or call (303) 279-4591 during the Museum’s normal business hours. All Aboard!
During Steam Days Weekend 2021, the Museum will be publicly kicking off a newly established Locomotive Maintenance Fund. This perpetual, restricted fund will be available year-round for donors to contribute towards, in support of keeping the Museum’s operating steam and diesel locomotives in good running order. Admission and Train Ride proceeds alone are not sufficient to pay for ongoing maintenance and periodic major overhauls, which (in the case of steam locomotives) often require boiler and machine work, castings, and other specialized parts and experience. A major, forthcoming project in 2021 underscores this need.
Denver & Rio Grande Western No. 491 has been a mainstay of the Museum’s operations (it pulls THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride every November and December) and the locomotive is now in need of major running gear repairs. Following the Steam Days event, No. 491 will be removed from service so piston rings, packing, and main rod brasses (bearings) can be renewed, along with other required work. Estimated costs are $40,000. Locomotive No. 346 will also require a major overhaul in the near future, with an even higher price tag.
The Museum is pleased to announce that the Narrow Gauge Preservation Foundation has generously stepped forward to provide $20,000 as a Challenge Grant for the necessary work on locomotive No. 491. Those funds have quickly been matched, confirming that the necessary work on No. 491 can proceed as planned. An anonymous donor has stepped forward with an additional challenge grant of $10,000 to encourage ongoing contributions in support of future locomotive maintenance and overhaul work. To donate, please call (303) 279-4591 during business hours, or visit https://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/donate-now.
The Colorado Railroad Museum was established at its present-day Golden site in 1959. Locomotive No. 346 was first steamed up at the Museum in the early 1960s, and it has operated occasionally to pull trains in the years since. Locomotive No. 491 joined the “operating team” of locomotives in 2014, and in 2020 the third member of this triumvirate, No. 20, was re-christened after nearly 60 years since its last operation. All three locomotives have colorful histories, and spent their service careers operating in Colorado and New Mexico.
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 extraordinary 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.
About the Narrow Gauge Preservation Foundation
The Narrow Gauge Preservation Foundation supports the efforts, past and current, of museums and preservation organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation also seeks to tell the story of narrow-gauge railroading in a different way, establishing exhibits in rich historic narrow gauge locales. Since inception, the Foundation has donated over $1 million to narrow gauge preservation efforts, including previous initiatives of the Colorado Railroad Museum such as construction of the roundhouse and turntable complex and most recently, the restoration of Rio Grande Southern No. 20. Many NGPF grants require the recipient to generate, within a set timeframe, an equal amount in matching, new donations. These not only demonstrate support for each project, but also provide new sources of funding for the receiving organizations. For more info, visit www.thengpf.org.