Gloomy sky, gloomy future. The gloomy morning sky over the Chama Yard pretty well reflects the prospects for the old soldier seen here. The former D&RGW #483, a Baldwin K-36 Locomotive, was the first steam locomotive to run on the newly formed Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad back in 1970. Formerly a favorite of the D&RGW crews, the 483 was a mainstay at the C&TS until 1977, when she was set aside because she was pretty thoroughly worn out. With other engines as better restoration candidates, the 483 was parked and became a parts source for her sisters, looking more and more like a skeleton with each passing year, as the grass grew up around her on the Chama dead-line. She hasn't turned a wheel in 40 years. Although there are lots of steam locomotives in similar or much worse shape around the US, the 483 is unique in that she's the only survivor of her class that is not operational. Of the 10 K-36s built, one (485) was scrapped after taking a tumble into a turntable pit in 1955, but 8 others are currently in service. Four are on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, and 4 more serve the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Only the 483 sits idle.
Over the years, there have been a number of attempts at cosmetic restoration, and these have certainly served to stabilize her condition. She's not rotting away....but her future is anything but certain. Her last best hope seemed to be back in 2016, when the Durango & Silverton, made a bid to trade a worn-out K-28 for the 483, as they badly wanted another K-36. It would have been an all-around win-win, as the D&S Shop is one of the few in the country that has the resources to bring this engine back from the dead. In addition, the C&TS, which functions as both a tourist railroad and a historic landmark, would have completed its collection of K-class locomotives. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Some passionate, but perhaps misguided locals decided they wanted to keep 483 in Chama at all costs, and convinced the C&TS Commissioners to veto the trade. I guess they'd rather see her looking like this photo in Chama, than steaming in Durango.
As noted before, the good news is that she's more or less stable as she is, and for that reason, hope springs eternal that some day, some set of circumstances might see this engine return to the rails....somewhere.