The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is working to repair a historic locomotive on loan that broke down earlier this month. As a result, planned trips in May with the famed engine have been canceled.
The Southern Pacific 4-6-0 No. 18, more commonly known as the SP-18, is revered by railroad aficionados. It was loaned this winter to the D&SNG.
Christian Robbins, spokesman for the D&SNG, said in a previous interview the loan allowed railroad crews to practice with oil-fired steam power as well as meet longstanding requests to bring the historic train to Durango.
On April 9, the locomotive broke down on its way north of Durango toward Cascade Canyon, leaving nearly 100 passengers stranded by Shalona Bridge.
A statement Wednesday said a crew is working with the Carson & Colorado Railway to repair the SP-18, after the minor damage it sustained. Trips planned for May 18 and 19 have been canceled, and passengers were given full refunds.
Jeff Johnson, general manager of the D&SNG, said in a prepared statement that repairs include the fabrication and installation of new rings, pistons and piston rods on both sides of the locomotive.
“While this work will take some time, especially since the company is currently readying its fleet of locomotives for the upcoming Silverton season beginning May 4, we are committed to completing these repairs on the shortest timetable possible and putting SP-18 back on the line so it may have additional successful runs this summer before returning home to Inyo County (California) in September,” Johnson said.
The SP-18 is a 1911 Baldwin that was used by the Southern Pacific in California until about 1960, according to Trains.com. It is also known by its other name, “The Slim Princess.”
D&SNG crews hope to become familiar with running oil-fired steam power, a vow made by railroad owner Al Harper after running traditional coal-fired engines became too dangerous last summer because of fire danger.