R.G.S. Class "C-19" - #40
Circa the late transition era.

~ Revised Tuesday, July 19, 2016 ~

Few railroads have ever captured the spirit of the American West like the Rio Grand Southern Railroad of Otto Mears. The fact that it faced some of the most formidable geographical obstacles, and continued in operation against all odds gave it the stature of a true underdog. Grudgingly admired by even by its creditors, it survived blizzards, floods, runaway trains, and even runaway "Galloping Geese", as its motorcars were affectionately called. Yet for some for some 64 years, the R.G.S managed to remain an entity using only hand-me-down and makeshift equipment.

For many, the scenery, the towns, and the structures along the right-of-way of the R.G.S. all combined act like a magnet that draws them back to that country over and over again. And for a fact, even though we personally are not modelers of the R.G.S. per se, we feel almost compelled to make a "side trip" through the country traveled by the R.G.S. whenever we get near the area.

And so we did once again last September. And although many places along the line are now "populated" with the oversized mansions currently popular with the self indulgent got-it-made yuppy set, there still remain vast areas of wilderness that appear untouched by the dirty hands of "progress" so one can be quietly awed by the magnificent colors of late September. And we were.

Like driving south from Rigway, after crossing the pass at Dallas Divide, then traversing the long downgrade towards Placerville, the colors were absolutely splendid. And as the highway makes its way down what used to be the right-of-way of the old R.G.S. in spots it is almost like one should be able to stop the car, get out, and hear the whistle of a Steam Train in the distance.

One like the #40 pictured on this page. Number 40 was a bit of an oddball, even for the R.G.S. It's mixed-up domes and single air pump and generally crooked piping, and that toolbox on the tender's rear deck all smacked of the "making do with whatcha got" / "run whatcha brung" mentality that was forced upon railroad men whose livelihood depended upon the whims of the current "receivers" in whose hands their fate, and indeed that of their railroad rested.

This model has received what I consider to be a fairly heavy weathering job. One that befits the perpetual lack of adequate finances of that worthy operation.

If you arrived here from the "C-19 Main Page", you were treated to another view of this number 40 as she was steaming downgrade with the D&RGW Coach #306 in tow on a late September afternoon such as the one I noted earlier on. Though the scenery in that photo isn't from the R.G.S., the magnificent fall colors are certainly typical of the area.

Noteworthy locomotive-specific details visible in this photo include

  • The mismatched steam and sand domes, sort of "plucked" from different eras.
  • A wood framed cab with a "Riveted" Steel overlay beneath the windows.
  • An air cylinder beneath the front running board that, through a brace of jury-rigged linkage raised and lowered the lead trucks "flanger" blade. And some of the aforementioned crooked piping leading to it.
  • D&RGW style oil type marker lamps.
  • A "lead" or "pilot" truck that sets 'way too far back to look "right".
  • Coal "boards" made of wrought iron instead of wood.
  • That wooden tool box on the tenders' rear deck.

    A Headlight straight out of the early days of steam, albeit electrified at this point in its life.

Click the photo above for a look at the Engineer's side of number 40 shown on this page.

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