Members of the Carson & Colorado Railway Society have made visible progress in their mission to restore the historic No. 18 locomotive in Independence.
This past weekend, volunteers with the Railway Society and Miller Towing of Lone Pine took the water tender from its longtime home in Dehy Park and transported it to the Eastern California Museum, where it will be stored while volunteer crews work to restore the locomotive in the park.
The cab of the locomotive was transported to Olancha, where Tom and Betty Dews of South County Construction have a workshop with all the necessary tools for its restoration.
According to Carson and Colorado Treasurer Lynn Cromer, the Dews “have been generous supporters of our project since we began 12 years ago.”
But they’re not the only ones.
There are about 25 men who are working on the locomotive restoration, including machinists and mechanics from several other steam railroad companies such as the Virginia & Truckee in Nevada, the Nevada Northern Railroad in Nevada, the Durango and Silverton Railroad in Colorado, and the Calico and Ghost Town Railroad of Knotts Berry Farm here in California.
“They are all experts in their field and have participated in similar steam locomotive restorations,” Cromer said. “They all volunteer their time and expertise on our project.”
There are also 337 members who contribute to the project through dues to the society, donations, or their time and help at fundraising events.
“One member produced a DVD on the historical Carson and Colorado Railway and has donated the proceeds to our project,” Cromer said. “Another member wrote and published a booklet and gave us a portion of the proceeds. Our members have been enthusiastic and very supportive.”
Cromer added that many of them are descendents of the crew members, engineers and office workers of the original Carson and Colorado line in the Owens Valley.
Overall, the restoration is expected to take approximately five years, at which time, Cromer said, the Carson and Colorado group expects to have a fully operational locomotive in Dehy Park.
Though there have been no official plans, the society has said that it hopes to be able to run railroad tracks from Independence to Laws north of Bishop, and operate the line as a tourist attraction.
Based on the amount of work that needs to be done and the condition of the engine when it was retired, the expected cost of the restoration is $167,000.