Colorado Railroad Museum to cosmetically restore Rio Grande tunnel motor

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Ed Lichtenfels via the Colorado Railroad Museum
The Rio Grande tunnel motor is spending in air at the Colorado Railroad Museum.
GOLDEN, Colo. — Few locomotives are as tightly identified with Western railroading as "tunnel motors" and now one will be re-painted, preserved, and on permanent display at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.

The locomotive in question is Denver & Rio Grande Western SD40T-2 No. 5401, a six-axle locomotive EMD built in 1980 for the railroad. Tallman says the locomotive is placed next to the last Denver & Rio Grande standard-gauge steam locomotive. The diesel will be re-painted to remove lettering from Union Pacific and restore its original paint scheme. Tallman says the museum will eventually install an interpretative panel discussing the historical significance of the locomotives.

No. 5401 is one of 73 tunnel motors Rio Grande executives purchased. They are known as tunnel motors because their cooling systems were redesigned with the confined spaces and limited fresh air available to locomotives in tunnels and snowsheds while crossing the Rocky Mountains.

Southern Pacific also purchased tunnel motors. Both railroads eventually became part of Union Pacific, which donated the locomotive to the museum about eight years ago.

Donald Tallman, the museum's executive director, tells Trains News Wire that the Aug. 22 move from a MillerCoors siding along BNSF Railway tracks to the museum took about six hours.

Tallman says the City of Golden, MillerCoors, BNSF Railway, S/D Enterprises, and track contractor RRTC all donated workers' times and services to move the locomotive. Hulcher Services, with its specialized railroad moving equipment, moved the locomotive at a significant discount to the museum.

“We are grateful to the Union Pacific for the donation of this important piece of Colorado Railroad history, and excited that after 8 years in storage at MillerCoors we were able to get it moved to the Museum for interpretation and display,” Tallman says.

The museum is accepting donations for the preservation and interpretation of the tunnel motor.

More information is available online. 

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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