San Luis & Rio Grande 18’s First Run

On May 3, 2008, the San Luis & Rio Grande fired up one of their new steam engines for its inaugural revenue run. Number 18, an Alco 2-8-0 built for the Lake Superior & Ishpeming in 1910, has since served on the Grand Canyon Railway and then again last summer on the Mount Hood. The SLRG purchased the engines in late 2007 from Brian Fleming and the Fleming Locomotive Company, and both arrived in Alamosa in late January. 18 was nearly operation-ready, having been freshly rebuilt and run in 2007. Still, the SLRG had some maintenance to do and adjustments to make, and 18 was taken out for her first test run the night before. Saturday’s sold-out Trains Unlimited photo special would mark not only 18’s first revenue run, but also nearly its first run on the railroad of any kind.

The photo freight special was a two-day charter, but what you’ll see here is just the initial run across from Alamosa to Sierra. As I mentioned, it was sold out, and I wasn’t one of the buyers. So I just got a few freeloading shots as it made its way from Alamosa across the San Luis Valley desert to the east. The day didn’t end there, though. Behind the special was not only one, but two eastbound freight loads. I’ve never caught the SLRG running in daylight over La Veta before, so I spent quite a bit of time capturing these two.

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, or a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS/USM.

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