Rio Grande class K-37

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Denver & Rio Grande Western K-37
D&RGW SL 491 2008.jpg
Type and origin
Dimensions are as rebuilt unless noted
Power typeSteam
BuilderBaldwin Locomotive Works
Build date1902
RebuilderD&RGW Burnham Shops
Rebuild date1928–1930
Number rebuilt10
 • WhyteOriginal: 2-8-0
Rebuilt: 2-8-2
 • UIC1′D1′ h2
GaugeOriginal: 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Rebuilt: 3 ft (914 mm)
Leading dia.Original: unknown
Rebuilt: 28 in (711 mm)
Driver dia.Original: 55 in (1,397 mm)
Rebuilt: 44 in (1,118 mm)
Trailing dia.Original: none
Rebuilt: 28 in (711 mm)
Wheelbase29 ft (8.8 m)
Length41.1 ft (12.5 m)
Width10.4 ft (3.2 m)
HeightEngine: 13.3 ft (4.1 m)
Tender: 13.5 ft (4.1 m)
Loco weight183,920 pounds (83,420 kg)
Boiler pressure200 psi (1.38 MPa)
Cylinder size20 in × 24 in (508 mm × 610 mm)
Valve gearWalschaerts
Loco brakeAir
Train brakesAir
Performance figures
Tractive effort37,100 lbf (165 kN)
OperatorsDRGW, D&SNG, C&TS
ClassD&RG: 190
D&RGW: C-41
after rebuild: K-37
LocaleColorado and New Mexico
Retired1955 (#496), 1962-1968
DispositionEight preserved; two (#490, 496) scrapped

Denver & Rio Grande Western K-37s are 2-8-2, Mikado type, narrow gauge steam locomotives. They were originally built by Baldwin as part of an order for thirty standard gauge 2-8-0, Consolidation type, locomotives, class 190, in 1902. They were renumbered into class C-41 (meaning 41,000 lbs of tractive effort) during the railroad's reorganization in 1924 and were converted to three foot gauge in 1928-30 at the railroad's Burnham Shops in Denver, CO with many new parts including new frames and smaller drivers. They were then renumbered into class K-37.

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 K-36 Mikado engines.

The locos worked out of Salida, Colorado to Gunnison, Colorado and up the Crested Butte Branch as well as the Monarch Branch. The locos also worked out of Alamosa, Colorado to Antonito over Cumbres Pass to Chama and on to Durango and the Farmington Branch. Like the K-36s the locos were not permitted West of Gunnison or on the Silverton branch. However, the Silverton branch has since been upgraded the track and line to handle K-36s and K-37s. 3 K-37s, 493, 491, and 499, were equipped with steam heat and signal lines so they can haul passenger trains like the San Juan Express and Shavano.

Of the eight preserved K-37s, only #497 has been operational, both on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad but it is now awaiting a major overhaul. However, in 2014, engine #491 went under restoration at the Colorado Railroad Museum. On Saturday, September 13, 2014 the #491 operated for the public for the first time at the Colorado Railroad Museum (a ticketed "roll out" was hosted on August 29, 2014), providing the motive power for the annual Thomas the Tank Engine event. On May 4, 2016 the D&SNG, in cooperation with the Colorado Railroad Museum, transported the #493 to Durango after resting in Silverton for almost 20 years for a joint evaluation project.

K-37 #493 in Durango after being moved from Silverton

Although the K-37s are actually about 2% lighter than the K-36s, they were erroneously thought to be much harder on track. Although the D&S originally owned four of the K-37s, they found that the longer engines were too hard on their track and they didn't handle the Animas Canyon section of the route as well as they would have hoped, so they traded #497 to the C&TS for K-36 #482 and #499 to Royal Gorge Park in Canon City for #486.


Class K-37
Class 190
Class C-41
490 1114 1014 20695 1928 n/a Retired 1962
Dismantled 1963-64
491 1126 1026 20829 1928 Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden Retired in 1963 in working condition. 491 is the largest operating narrow gauge steam locomotive in the Western hemisphere[citation needed]. It was acquired by History Colorado in 1970, then moved to the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1985; ownership of the engine was transferred to the museum in 2013. It was restored to working condition and debuted on August 29, 2014.
492 1121 1021 20749 1928 C&TS To C&TS 1970, stored in Chama, NM.
493 1105 1005 20550 1928 D&SNG Retired 1970. Moved to D&SNG 3/1981. Under restoration to operational condition.
494 1120 1020 20748 1928 C&TS Retired 1962
To C&TS 1970, on display in Antonito, CO.[6]
495 1104 1004 20522 1928 C&TS Retired 1962
To C&TS 1970, on display in Antonito, CO.[7]
496 1123 1023 20751 1930 n/a Dismantled 1955, Subject of an April Fools' Day hoax in stating that it had been discovered intact in a barn near Salida, CO in 2011.[8]
497 1103 1003 20521 1930 C&TS To D&SNG 3/1981, restored 1984, Traded to C&TS for #482 in October 1991, taken out of service in late 2003. Currently stored in Chama, NM.[9]
498 1109 1009 20640 1930 D&SNG To D&SNG 3/1981, Stored in Durango, CO.
499 1125 1025 20753 1930 Royal Gorge Park
Canon City
Retired 1970
To D&SNG 3/1981
Traded to Royal Gorge Park for #486, 1999


  1. ^ Armitage, Alan B. (October 1979). "Denver & Rio Grande Western's K-37 MIkados". Model Railroader. Milwaukee: Kalmbach: 70–73.
  2. ^ Official Roster No. 11 of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad System. Denver: The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad System. April 1, 1923. p. 94.
  3. ^ "Denver & Rio Grande Western Mikados". Steam Locomotive dot com. Archived from the original on 21 September 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  4. ^ "Denver & Rio Grande Western Roster". Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society. Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Durango & Silverton Steam". Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  6. ^ "2014 Trip - Alamossa & South Along U.S. 285 - Franks-Focus". Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  7. ^ "K-37 #495". Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  8. ^ "Historic Steam Engine discovered in Barn". March 29, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "Chama and Durango". Retrieved 2018-05-04.