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All aboard for auction

Jane Stebbins

RECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Town Council members agreed last week to allow Town Manager Tim Gagen to bid on a locomotive similar to one that rode the rails over Boreas Pass at the turn of the century.

The auction, in Golden, is slated for Saturday.

The current owner originally envisioned building an Old West town, complete with railroad tracks, switches, a water tank, Victorian homes and steam locomotives. The dream has faded, however, and the owners are selling the various railroad equipment they’ve acquired over the years, said Rebecca Waugh, a history consultant for the town.

Breckenridge town officials are interested in acquiring locomotive No. 111, which is similar to the No. 537 that ran through Breckenridge. Locomotive No. 537 was dismantled in the Midwest years ago, Waugh said. If Gagen gets the high bid, the locomotive will be brought to Summit County on a flatbed truck, restored and added to the Rotary Snowplow Park at the base of Boreas Pass.

The estimated cost to acquire, move and renovate the locomotive is $154,000. Waugh said an operating locomotive – which No. 111 is not – could cost as much as $300,000.

Town councilmembers expressed concern about the purchase, particularly because money is tight. But it might be the last chance they have, Waugh said.

“This is the only steam locomotive on the face of the Earth that’s coming up for auction,” she said. “Everyone’s holding onto their rolling stock – even in South America.”

Many engines were sold to South American interests, and some have made their way back into the hands of U.S. collectors, including towns interested in restoring an element of their historic roots.

Locomotive No. 111 originally ran on rails in Alaska before it was moved to Nebraska and sold to South America. It and the No. 40 – now serving the Georgetown Loop – have since been brought back to the United States.

Councilmembers agreed they probably should try to buy the locomotive now, or consider abandoning the historic railroad project.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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