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Engine 168 rolls again 

Correction: In the October 17th, 2019 column about the restoration of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad engine 168, the year it was built was incorrectly stated. The engine was built in 1883.

Four years after the Colorado Springs City Council approved removing old steam engine #168 from its long-time perch in downtown Antlers Park, the engine has been restored by the staff at the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.  This past Monday, the historic steam engine made a short ceremonial trip from its new home at the railroad's facility in Antonito, Colorado.

Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia in 1868, it was bought by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad where it hauled passengers and freight around Colorado and the west until its retirement in 1937.  In 1938, the railroad gave it to the city of Colorado Springs to serve as a monument to General William Jackson Palmer, who founded both the city and the railroad on which the engine served. It was placed on display in Antlers Park, across from the railroad depot just west of the Antlers Hotel and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

click to enlarge Manufacturer's emblem on the side of Engine #168 - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Manufacturer's emblem on the side of Engine #168

The engine sat there on display, exposed to the elements, until 2015 when the city agreed to lease the engine to Cumbres and Toltec, who would move, restore, and then operate the engine on its 64-mile route between Antonito and Chama, New Mexico. The agreement also required that the engine maintain its place on the historic registry.

click to enlarge Engine #168 undergoing restoration, June 2018 - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Engine #168 undergoing restoration, June 2018

click to enlarge C&TSRR President John Bush (left) and General Manager Stathi Pappas with Engine #168, June 2018 - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • C&TSRR President John Bush (left) and General Manager Stathi Pappas with Engine #168, June 2018

The engine underwent $500,000 of restoration since arriving at the Cumbres and Toltec, and on Monday, Oct. 14, C&TSRR President John Bush, Assistant Manager and head of Special Projects Stathi Pappas along with other railroad staff took Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department Director Karen Palus, Cultural Services Manager and Pioneers Museum Director Matt Mayberry and members of the Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec on a ceremonial ride on #168.  During a stop on the 10-mile ride, C&TSRR's  Bush broke a bottle of champagne on a coupling on the front of the bunting adorned engine, officially commemorating the completion of its restoration.

click to enlarge Engine #168 on it's ceremonial run, Oct. 14, 2019 - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Engine #168 on it's ceremonial run, Oct. 14, 2019

click to enlarge C&TSRR President John Bush breaking a champagne bottle on a coupling on the front of #168 during a stop on it's ceremonial run, Oct. 14, 2019 - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • C&TSRR President John Bush breaking a champagne bottle on a coupling on the front of #168 during a stop on it's ceremonial run, Oct. 14, 2019

click to enlarge Colorado Springs Parks' Karen Palus and Matt Mayberry with C&TSRR President John Bush (center) during Engine #168's ceremonial run, Oct. 14, 2019 - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Colorado Springs Parks' Karen Palus and Matt Mayberry with C&TSRR President John Bush (center) during Engine #168's ceremonial run, Oct. 14, 2019

The C&TSRR will be ending its 2019 season this weekend, and will resume over Memorial Day weekend in 2020, at which point it's anticipated that #168 will be used regularly on the line.

Although the engine was a nice attraction while on display downtown, its rightful and proper place is being back in service, working on the rail lines.

Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (
@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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