That others may live..... Running a fleet of 90+ year-old steam engines that have to work just as hard each day as they ever did back in the steam era is a very difficult endeavor to sustain. Things break and things wear out, and you can't just head over to the local NAPA and buy some parts. Something has to give. Unfortunately, that often means cannibalization - borrowing parts from the more worn-out machines to keep the runners running.
Rusting away in the weeds outside the Chama Shop, you'll find a couple of donor locomotives that have definitely given their all to keep their sisters whole. K-37 #492 and K-36 #483 are missing lots of parts and appliances which have been borrowed over the years to keep the Cumbres & Toltec's fleet of K-series engines ready for their daily tasks, hauling sight-seers up the hill to Cumbres Pass and beyond. Both engines are now missing so many parts that even a cosmetic restoration for display would be a major project. It's a sad thing to see these once-proud horses in their current state, and especially sad for the 483, because she was the Cumbres & Toltec's first locomotive. All of that said, the sacrifice has paid off. After over 40 years of operation, the fleet of steam engines at the Cumbres & Toltec continues to soldier on in pretty good shape. The line currently boasts 4 operable K-36s, 1 operable K-27, and one definitely restorable K-37. If the folks who built these engines were still among us, I think they'd be mighty proud that nearly a century on, their handiwork was still plying the same rails and still working as hard as ever.
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.