COLORADO SPRINGS — An 11 year railroad car restoration in Colorado Springs is nearing completion.
"This car was originally constructed in 1889," said Project Manager John Engs.
The sleeper car is headed to join the fleet of narrow gauge rail cars at the Cumbres and Toltec Railway on the Colorado-New Mexico border. The rail car was found on a farm in New Mexico.
“It was being used as a shed,” said project volunteer Craig McMullen. "This is one of 10 ever made for the Denver and Rio Grande railway.”
It is likely a one-of-a-kind restoration. The original structure of the sleeper car made by the U.S. company Pullman was in good shape. The inside, however, was gutted.
"We only know what it looks like from some photographs we got from the Smithsonian Institution." The photos and some diagrams from the Pullman museum served as guides.
A group of over 20 volunteers with the Cumbres and Toltec Railway have been working every other Saturday for the 11 years of the project.
“We enjoy it,” said Engs. The volunteers bring different skills to the work with a common interest in trains and railways. "I love Colorado history and the railroads are a big part of Colorado history," said McMullen.
The restoration happened on the grounds of the Trolley Museum in Colorado Springs. It is right next to active railroad tracks. Only the nearby rails are regular gauge track for today's trains. So the restored car had to be lifted by a crane, placed on a flatbed and trucked to join the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge fleet on the Colorado-New Mexico border.
Rather than a museum piece to simply observe, it is now a part of Colorado history to experience. The car will roll along narrow gauge tracks pulled by working steam engines.