D&RGW MOW Equipment: Derrick OP. This fine example of narrow gauge Maintenance of Way (MOW) equipment is Derrick OP. Built in 1911 by the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad's Alamosa Shops, Derrick OP was fashioned from a modified high-side gondola. She was designed as a sort of light-weight wrecking crane, for use on wreck and MOW trains. This derrick has a small steam engine located inside the wooden cab, but unlike the wreck cranes used on standard gauge railroads, she doesn't have her own boiler. She relies on a feed of live steam from the locomotive used to move her into position for operation. As with any wreck crane, her long boom requires an idler car, and flatcar 06063, which also appears in this photo, is dedicated for that purpose. A unique feature of OP is that in a pinch, she could be fitted with standard gauge trucks, allowing her to be used on any of the D&RGW's trackage. Derrick OP was used not only for cleaning up wrecks, but also for other odd jobs around the railroad's terminals, such as assembling structures, or even rolling stock. In later years, she proved too light for lifting the larger K-series locomotives, but could still be used to pick up derailed wooden cars. She was recently restored by the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec and is fully operable. The Friends occasionally run demonstrations of this critter during special events on the railroad.
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.