June 1, 2018 and we come to Chama New Mexico to video D&RGW 315 making a special freight run from Antonito Colorado to Cumbres Pass and back. That video is available here:
The Denver and Rio Grande Western K-36 class are ten 3 ft narrow gauge, Mikado type, 2-8-2 steam locomotives built for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad by Baldwin Locomotive Works. They were shipped to the Rio Grande in 1925, and were first used along the Monarch Branch and Marshall Pass, but were later sent to the Third Division out of Alamosa. Of the original ten, four are owned by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and five by the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Number 485 fell into the turntable pit at Salida and was scrapped in Pueblo in 1955, with many parts being saved.
The locomotives are of outside frame design, with the driving wheels placed between the two chassis frames which support the boiler, but with the cylinders, driving rods, counterweights and valve gear on the outside. This general arrangement is shared with the earlier K-27, K-28 and later K-37 Mikado engines.
The locomotives' name of K-36 comes from two different sources. The K in the name comes from the locomotives' wheel arrangement (Mikado), and the 36 stands for 36,200 pounds of tractive effort.
The K-36s were used primarily as freight locomotives out of Alamosa to Durango, and to Farmington, New Mexico, as well as out of Salida to Gunnison (over Marshall Pass) until 1955 and to Monarch on the Monarch Branch until 1956. They were built with special valves to allow brake control between locomotives while double-heading, and were commonly found between Alamosa and Chama, New Mexico. They were heavily used during the pipe boom in Farmington, and hauled long freight trains between Alamosa and Farmington.
In 1937, 3 K-36s, 482, 483, and 489, were equipped with steam heat and signal lines to haul passenger trains like the Shavano and the San Juan Express. Eventually in 1945, 484, 485, and 488, were also equipped, too.
With the support of the States of New Mexico and Colorado, and railfans all over the world, these historic locomotives will continue to climb the grade to Cumbres Pass and travel through Toltec Gorge for years to come.