Halfway through the project and the Carson and Colorado Railway Association is making headway on its restoration of the narrow gauge locomotive stored at Dehy Park in Independence.
The Carson and Colorado began the restoration project in spring 2010.
A volunteer crew that has included more than 50 mechanics, laborers, metal workers has more plans to have the train in working order in the next three years.
“We’re about 40 or 45 percent complete,” Chief Mechanical Officer Randy Babcock said. “The tender is basically complete and is up at the Eastern California Museum. It still needs paint and a couple small items, but it’s basically done.”
Babcock said the crew has done “quite a bit” of work on the engine itself, and right now the locomotive is nearly completely dismantled, as much of the metal and machine work must be done off-site.
“Most of the repair work for the boiler is complete and as the key components come in we can start to re-assemble it,” Babcock said.
Right now the locomotive is under a tent at the park to protect it from the elements as the Carson and Colorado crew works on it.
The goal of the restoration project is to give Independence a fully restored, functioning locomotive that will attract train buffs from all over the world to the area.
“Right now we’re working on proposals to operate and house it in Independence,” Babcock said. “It won’t be leaving Independence.”
Currently, the Carson and Colorado has its eyes on the Eastern California Museum, where the train can be safely housed, protected from the elements and be put on display for everyone to enjoy.
The rehabilitation effort is 100 percent volunteer-driven, with some of the crew, like Babcock, coming as far as Durango, Colo. to assist, or in Babcock’s case, direct, the work effort.
Over the past two years, Babcock said, as many as 50 volunteers have turned up to assist a core group of 15 mechanics who meet about every six weeks for work days.
Materials that are needed for the work are purchased through private donations and a $20,000 matching grant the Carson and Colorado received from the Narrow Gauge Preservation Foundation.
To keep materials for the project coming in, the Carson and Colorado is planning a fundraiser and open house at the park on Sept. 22.
“I’m not worried about not being able to finish the project, but we hope to have another fundraising drive next year,” Babcock said, adding that the group has enough money to keep rolling down the tracks, but will likely need another $40,000 in the bank before completion.