Quick Table of Contents

The formative years

Villa Park, my home town

Doctor Geno E. Beery,Villa Park's pioneering woman physician

How I became a lifelong railfan

Father was a man of the automobile age

Grandfather's Watch

Railroad Time

Remembering the Chicago Great Western

Remembering the 'Ror'n' Elgin

Wabash Philo Station Destroyed

Pursuing Remains of the Glory Days

Riding the Electroliner

My first fan-trip

To a locomotive in winter

The boy who would buy a steam locomotive

In search of the eponymous Brewer, Illinois

The last all steam powered mixed train in America

Iron horses put out to pasture

Some thoughts on public travel then and now

Narrow Gauge Mania

D&RGW narrow gauge in the twilight years -- Part I

D&RGW narrow gauge in the twilight years -- Part II

Steam up the Rotary!

A rotary under the sun

Bob Richardson and the founding of the Colorado Railroad Museum

Is this any way to run a railroad museum? Part 1
Colorado Railroad Museum

Is this any way to run a railroad museum? Part 2
Colorado Railroad Museum

The Return of Colorado & Southern Number 9

Was the Georgetown Loop a poor design?

Riding the Sumpter Valley
Three-foot gauge steam in Eastern Oregon

Gold Rush Narrow Gauge
White Pass & Yukon Route

Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge
The spirit of this much loved, southwestern Colorado railway isn't dead, it just retired and moved to Southern California

Steaming Up
Looking on as Denver & Rio Grande Western Number 491 is readied for an evening on the Polar Express.

Narrow Gauge Steam Railways in the Land of their Origin

The Welsh Connection
The Ffestiniog Railway, Robert Fairlie and the origins of narrow gauge railroading in America

The Welsh Highland Railway
The newest and longest narrow gauge in Wales

The Talyllyn Railway
The world's first "preserved railway"

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

Standard Gauge Diversions

Royal Gorge Route

Steam Conquers La Veta Pass

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

Fun while they lasted

Boxcar Camping -- Wilderness Stay by Steam Train

End of an Eastside tradition
Spirit of Washington dinner train

The Engine is Royal; the Scenery is Magnificent
The Royal Hudson and the Caraboo Prospector


Corkscrew Gulch Turntable

The curse of Alpine

Thoughts on the Glory Days of architecture and interior design

Denver's Ghost Buildings

Denver Union Station Renewal

Who were those nabobs, the ones San Francisco's Nob Hill was named for?

Is there grammar to interior design?


Steaming up

Looking on as Denver & Rio Grande Western Number 491 is readied for an evening on the Polar Express.


I arrived early at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado to see the preparation of the engine for that evening’s Polar Express trains.


When I arrived, I could see smoke arising from the recently extended Stall 1 of the museum’s Cornelius W. Hauck Roundhouse. The building, actually a multi-purpose restoration facility with a dual gauge turntable, was opened in 2000 and named in honor of the co-founder, with Robert W. Richardson, of the museum.


Inside Stall 1 was one of the ten largest locomotives used on the Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge lines. Between 1928 and 1930, the ten locomotives of this class, numbered 490 through 499, were rebuilt by the railroad from older, standard gauge Consolidations into narrow gauge 2-8-2s. The D&RGW designated the as K-37 class -- K for miKado, and 37 for tractive effort of approximately 37,000 pounds. Eight of the ten survive in various states of decay, but only No. 491 is operational. 491 was taken out of service earlier than most of the class because its throttle leaked. It was acquired by History Colorado in 1970 and was moved to the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1985. Ownership was transferred to the museum in 2013, and in August 2014 the locomotive was back in steam -- a big accomplishment by the museum's staff and volunteers.


Inside the house, the steam up was in progress. Only a little pressure was already showing on the gauge. The day’s staff of two, Gary Saltsman and Master Mechanic, Mike Spera, were busy attending to preparations.


Things happen slowly on a railroad – big or small. I had plenty of time to stroll the grounds looking for photo opportunities while pressure was raised and the Alemite grease gun was put to good use.


Finally the time came to bring 491 out into daylight. She was slowly moved out of her stall and carefully balanced on the turntable for a spin. The turntable is of the “Armstrong” variety, and turning this engine appeared a little harder than with the much smaller C-19 Class No. 346.


The turntable was aligned to the ash pit track, and No. 491 was backed off and spotted above the pit.



While the ash pan was cleaned, the blower remained open -- creating a steady draft and therefore more steam pressure.


It was time for me to leave, but just as I drove out of the parking lot, the safety valves lifted. No. 491 was up to pressure.


Background on the Colorado Railroad Museum

Bob Richardson and the Founding and development of the Colorado Railroad Museum

Colorado Railroad Museum's home page

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