D&RGW 315 and RGS 5 on July 4, 2008

DRGW 315 is an 1895 Baldwin 2-8-0, built originally for the Florence & Cripple Creek as their “Elkton”, otherwise known as #3. The engine – along with her four sisters – went to the Rio Grande in 1917 after the F&CC folded, and eventually 315 wound up as the Durango yard switcher during the twilight of the narrow gauge. As the engine came due for major work, it was sidelined and placed on display in a city park in 1950. Eventually it passed to the Durango Chamber of Commerce, and then to the City of Durango itself.

In 2000, the Durango Railroad Historical Society was founded with the idea of restoring 315. At Railfest 2007, that dream became reality, when 315 moved under her own power for the first time since being idled in 1950. Last year, while 315 made a number of runs, it stayed on the home rails of the Durango and Silverton.

When six 315 photo charters over the Cumbres & Toltec were announced earlier this spring in conjunction with RGS Galloping Goose 5, I immediately jumped on a July 4 ticket. The trip was billed as a “stock extra”, with 315 pulling livestock cars and RGS 5 accompanying. The total of six revenue runs would mark the first time the engine had seen the rails at the eastern San Juan Extension in at least 58 years. History in the making, truly, and not something I was going to miss.

I wound up riding on both 4-Jul-2008 and 7-Jul-2008, as well as chasing the first revenue run on 16-Jun-2008. The photos that follow were taken on the July 4th run. The photographic results of the other two trips will hopefully be posted soon in another pair of trip reports.

All photographs in this trip report were taken with a Canon EOS 40D using either a Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS/USM, Sigma 18-50mm, Canon 28-300 F3.5-5.6 L IS/USM or a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS/USM.

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