The antique locomotive engine that's lived in Antlers Park all these years, Old 168, is being moved to its new home in Antonito today. This 132 year-old train was retired from General Palmer's railroad, the Denver & Rio Grande, in 1938, and it has been on display in Antlers Park ever since. (For those who aren't familiar with Colorado Springs history, General Palmer was our city's founder.) Although the locomotive underwent a total restoration in 1984, in the intervening years it's gotten a little down at the heels. The fellow who actually did the restoration all those years ago, John Bush of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, has leased the engine and its coal car from the city for the next 45 years. He plans on giving it another restoration from stem to stern and, even better, putting it on display along with other historic narrow gauge train cars of the same era.
I imagine that moving this old engine and coal car will be quite an undertaking -- as I understand it, the engine alone weighs about 45 tons! Both pieces will be taken by flatbed trucks to their new home. If you care to watch the process, according to the Gazette it will commence in the morning and they hope to have the coal car loaded onto a truck by noon; the will engine follow suit shortly thereafter. There will then be a public ceremony just after 2:00pm. I am hoping to witness and photograph at least some of the pomp and circumstance, but I can't promise! I have a workload today that will probably keep me at my desk for hours. But even if I can't go and take pictures, I'm sure the Gazette and the local TV stations will be on hand to record it, so you can probably catch it on the 6:00 news. (BTW, as I was taking these pictures, there was another photographer doing the same. He turned out to be quite a train enthusiast, very knowledgeable, and he seemed a little forlorn that Old 168 was spending its last night in the city.)
For more information and historic pictures of Old 168, click HERE (and you can donate to its restoration HERE). Farewell, old friend! You've been an interesting, historic highlight of our downtown for generations, and we'll miss seeing you in Antlers Park! Congratulations on being put back into service!
[9/24/2015 edit: as predicted, I had no time to join the fun, but at least one of our local TV stations did -- video HERE.]
Looking at it from behind, you can see that it's a narrow gauge train. It will fit in very nicely with the other narrow gauge Cumbres & Toltec historic locomotives.