ANTONITO — The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad has received a $20,000 grant for its Engine 168 Project from the Narrow Gauge Preservation Foundation. The Engine 168 Project will return Denver & Rio Grande No. 168, a T-12 class Ten-Wheeler built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1883, to service. The grant is dedicated to help rebuild No. 168’s tender. It lifts fundraising to almost $350,000, closing in on the $500,000 the project requires.
John Bush, president of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic, said, “This is another big step forward for No. 168. Work is well underway and our Antonito mechanical forces will complete assembly of the tender by mid-December.”
Bush added that the project is proceeding on time and at budget so that No. 168 could be back in steam in 2019.
The project was made possible when the City of Colorado Springs made a long-term lease of No. 168 to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic. The engine had been on display in a park there since 1938. Rebuilding work began in Antonito earlier this year.
Charles Getz, executive director of the Narrow Gauge Preservation Foundation explained that many good projects are competing for funding. “The Foundation made this grant to the Engine 168 Project because of the engine’s historical significance and because of the excellent record of restoration by the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic and its dedicated crew,” he said.
General William Jackson Palmer, who founded the Denver & Rio Grande, ordered the engine upon his railroad’s completion. No. 168 reached into the heart of the Rio Grande’s territory, speeding 19th century passengers between Denver, Silverton, Santa Fe and Salt Lake City. No. 168 made history when it headed a train carrying
President William H. Taft to Montrose for the dedication of the Gunnison Water Diversion Tunnel in 1909, one of the first federal irrigation projects so important to agriculture in the American West. It also appeared in the 1936 film “The Texas Rangers” starring Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie.
The Engine 168 Project has also won endorsements from Trains Magazine and the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic is a National Historic landmark which operates 64 miles of original Denver and Rio Grande line between Antonito and Chama, N, M. Its Engine 168 Project is part of the railroad’s plan to recreate a complete, authentic 19th century passenger train with No. 168 and five original D&RG passenger cars.
Since 2002, the Narrow Gauge Preservation Foundation has granted more than $1 million to help preserve narrow gauge artifacts, models and significant railroads. The foundation makes matching grants to encourage wider participation in such preservation.
This grant requires the Engine 168 Project to raise $10,000 in new donations. Contributions can be made by clicking on the Contacts tab at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic website, cumbrestoltec.com or by phoning Tracy Gallegos, 575-219-3306. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic is a 170(c)(1) non-profit organization and donations are tax-deductible.