Southern Pacific 4-6-0 #18 ran on the Narrow Gauge Keeler Branch into the 1950's. It was restored in 2018, but has only operated on a short section of track in California. The Durango and Silverton leased the engine at first for crew training for firing an oil burner, since the D&S was converting most of their fleet to burn oil. But now in 2021 the engine is leased again, but this time for helper duty to doublehead with other D&S engines on trains that cannot be handled with one D&S engine. During 2021 it operated about 40 doubleheaders.
The first segment is 18 in helper service with 493 in June 2021. Most of the good shots are from Hermosa to Rockwood where the steepest grade is located (Hermosa Hill). 493 is seen departing Rockwood (18 had already gone ahead light). We also see the Cascade train with K-28 473 roll through Rockwood as it is running about 30 minutes behind the train to Silverton. We also see the duo in Silverton as the train arrives, then see it returning at Rockwood, along with a couple scenes of 493
on the passenger train. One of the best shots is at Pinkerton where we see the duo working hard.
This is also the still photo that graces our dvd cover.
Our next segment is 18 on another helper service operation in August of 2021. This time 18 is helping 480, and we chase the 18 from Durango to Rockwood where it takes water. Then we backtrack and catch 480 on the passenger train. We get 3 or 4 scenes of the doubleheader climbing Hermosa Hill, then wait for the Cascade train at Shalona about 30 minutes later. This train is powered by K-28 #473.
We also catch the 18/480 doubleheader in the upper Animas River Canyon a couple miles south of Durango. Then we see switching moves at the Silverton Wye, plus engine and historical information while we are there. We catch the 480 departing Silverton, and then both trains at Rockwood before ending this segment.
On September 2nd Trains Magazine ran a photo charter with 493 to Silverton, and we catch a few scenes of this run. At Elk Park we are clear for the regular steam train to Silverton, and get a shot of 18 in action as the helper for 480. The 18 stayed in Silverton overnight, and the next day we have #18 on a freight train headed east toward Durango. Engine 493 has 4 coaches and is the escort train providing places for the riders on the charter. Thus at some runby locations we get both trains. This is a great day of remote locations in the Animas River Canyon. The day ends with a doubleheader of 18 and 493 with the combined trains at the High Line Horseshoe near Rockwood.
We aren't done yet, as 18 powers the D&S fall photo special. The engine runs solo with about 4 cars, and on October 1st operates from Durango to Silverton. On October 2nd we have coverage by a different photographer of the eastbound run back to Durango, ending on the bridge in Durango.
This show is unique with this rare mainline trackage for the 18. From doubleheading with other D&S engines, to operations on photo specials this is a great selection of fine views of this California engine in Colorado. Get your copy today!