Rail fans from across the country are excited that an iconic Rio Grande Southern locomotive will soon be in operation again. “It’s an important piece of railroad history, and to actually be able …
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The Colorado Railroad Museum, 17155 W. 44th Ave. in Golden, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. A variety of events are planned for July 12-14. Tickets can be purchased online and more details on the events can be found on the museum’s website, https://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/60th-anniversary-gala/. But here is a basic rundown:
$300 per person
Includes admission to all of the weekend’s anniversary events, as well as special activities reserved only for VIP guests and a gift bag with commemorative items.
60th Anniversary Dinner:
5-9 p.m. July 12
$150 per person
Includes a gift bag of 60th Anniversary Celebration items, an auction, dinner ceremony, special presentation and a catered meal in the museum’s Picnic Pavilion.
Robbery at the Railroad:
5-7:30 p.m. July 13 and 14
$55 for adults and $19.87 for children under 12. Tickets include two drink tokens and daytime Special Event admission prior to showtime.
Attendees will participate in an interactive, live Wild West show on a steam train. Western attire encouraged but not required. Recommended for ages 16 and older because of gunfight content and alcohol being available on the premises.
Bidding opens at 9 a.m. June 28. Online bidding closes at 5 p.m. July 12, but will close at 7 p.m. July 12 for attendees of the 60th Anniversary Dinner.
Items are available for viewing online through a link on the Colorado Railroad Museum’s website.
60th Anniversary Special Event:
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 13 and 14. Train rides will be offered every half hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is $20 for adults; $10 for children ages 2-15; $15 for seniors age 60 and older; and free for museum members, active military personnel and children under 2. A pancake breakfast is available as an additional purchase from 9-10:30 a.m.
Opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. and are followed by a Parade of Locomotives. Attendees will ride on a train pulled by coal-fired Denver & Rio Grande K-37 Steam Locomotive No. 491 and will get to explore new exhibits, open rail cars and experience the Turntable Demonstration.
Also offered will be a ride in the Uintah Combine Car. Tickets for this are not included in admission and additionally cost $25 per person. One free ride is offered to VIP guests but additional rides can be purchased for $10 each.
Rail fans from across the country are excited that an iconic Rio Grande Southern locomotive will soon be in operation again.
“It’s an important piece of railroad history, and to actually be able to operate it is really cool,” said Donald Tallman, executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum. “It’s truly living history.”
Tallman is referring to the Rio Grande Southern Locomotive No. 20, which arrived home June 4 to the museum in Golden after undergoing restoration in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, for the past 12 years.
“It’s been a long time,” said Jeff Taylor, the museum’s curator of rolling stock and equipment. “There’s been a lot of hype about it coming home.”
Having Locomotive No. 20 is exciting enough on its own, Tallman said, but even more so because it arrived just in time for the Colorado Railroad Museum’s 60th anniversary celebration that runs July 12-14.
In the past six decades, the museum has “grown and flourished,” Tallman said. It attracts about 100,000 visitors annually and has more than 100 railcars in the collection — including now the unique Locomotive No. 20.
A narrow-gauge engine built in 1899 for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad, it was originally used by the mining industry and built to climb and navigate the winding and steep Phantom Canyon to and from Cripple Creek.
There were only five of its kind, Taylor said, and Locomotive No. 20 is the only one left — all the others have been scrapped for parts.
“The railroad was good at recycling,” Taylor said, adding that Locomotive No. 20 has parts that were original to the other four locomotives.
By the late 1930s, Locomotive No. 20 was serving tourists. But in 1949, it became a movie star and played the role of Emma Sweeny, a locomotive in the film “A Ticket to Tomahawk.”
The last time Locomotive No. 20 ran was in November 1951, and it was sold at auction to the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club in 1952. The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club transferred ownership of the train to the Colorado Railroad Museum in 2006, and that year, an anonymous donor gave a donation to get it back to operational condition. The stipulation for the donation was that Locomotive No. 20 be rebuilt by the Strasburg Rail Road.
Strasburg Rail Road specializes in the steam engine, Tallman said.
Locomotive No. 20 returned to Golden with about 80 percent of the work done, Taylor said. The Strasburg Rail Road did the major work needed to certify it for federal standards. That means if the Colorado Railroad Museum chooses, it can take Locomotive No. 20 on tours to places outside of the museum once it’s operational, Taylor said.
Taylor and a team of about 15 will complete the rest of the work at the Colorado Railroad Museum. What is left is mostly cosmetic and “fine detail work,” Taylor said.
He expects Locomotive No. 20 to be operational sometime in 2020, but museum visitors are able to view it now as it’s being worked on in the museum’s shop, Taylor said.
Tallman noted that unlike many other railroad museums’ exihibits, which include artifacts from all over the country, the Colorado Railroad Museum is especially “unique because everything is focused on Colorado.
“The entire collection either ran within or through Colorado,” Tallman said. “That’s really special.”
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