Narrow Gauge Train

The date was March, 1963. South Park City had been opened for four seasons and continued to grow with additional buildings and artifacts. But one major piece of history was missing: a narrow gauge steam engine. One had to be found, for the railroad played an important role in the history of South Park. The narrow gauge Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad served this area from 1879 until 1890 when it became part of the Denver, Leadville and Gunnison Railway. Later, it was taken over by the Colorado and Southern Railway Company. During this time it was popularly known as the “Denver and South Park.” The line closed in 1937 after fifty-eight years of service; the tracks were removed the following year.

In 1963 Mr. Snyder purchased 500 feet of rail and four railroad cars; an ore car, box car, cattle car and a caboose from the Rio Grande Railroad. But not one narrow gauge engine could be found for sale. He checked the Rio Grande; Alamosa, Durango-Silverton Division. He checked every lead he was given. These include places in every part of the United States and as far away as Yucatan, Mexico and Alaska. No luck! The old engines at one time or another had been sold for scrap or were displayed in public parks, museums, and at attractions such as Knott’s Berry Farm, in California. A March 14, 1963, article in the Rocky Mountain News headlined, “Narrow Gauge Engine Proves Elusive Item.” After a three-year search, an engine was found.

In July 1966, a 45,000-lb. narrow gauge steam engine was finally obtained by South Park City from the United Fruit Company of Bananera, Guatemala. The engine had been built in 1914 with the construction number of 5518 and is known as a Porter Mogul #6, the same type of engine that was used on the Denver and South Park Line. A picture and description in a July 7, 1966 Rocky Mountain News article told the story. “PROUD PUFFER Steam engine leaves Denver for South Park City aboard a truck transport.” The engine was bought for $600.00, and the freight bill came to $5,000.00. A long search had come to a successful end.