She’ll be comin’ "round the mountain …
BRECKENRIDGE – In the final minutes, it was Georgetown vs. Breckenridge in an auction to obtain a historic steam locomotive and its tender – and Breckenridge came out on top.
The locomotive, No. 111, is similar to another train that ran through Breckenridge at the turn of the century. Once it is restored, it will be brought to Summit County and displayed at the Rotary Snowplow Park at the base of Hoosier Pass.
Bidding started at $5,000, said Breckenridge Town Manager Tim Gagen, who was authorized by the town council to bid as much as $125,000 Saturday. Others present at the auction included railroad buffs, farmers and representatives from other towns hoping to take home a piece of history.
“I waited for awhile to see who was in the game,” Gagen said. “I tried to be like a little church mouse; real quiet, so no one would notice me.”
The former owners of the engine originally envisioned building an old West town near Brighton, complete with railroad tracks, switches, a water tank, Victorian homes and steam locomotives. The dream 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 of Breckenridge.
By the time the bidding reached $20,000, it was down to Gagen and a representative from Georgetown. Bidding on the locomotive increased in $2,000 to $5,000 increments, and was over in 10 minutes with Gagen’s high bid of $62,000. The total price, including auctioneer fees, came to $68,200.
“My real worry was how high was it going to go,” Gagen said. “But there isn’t a whole lot of cat-and-mouse when you’re down to two people. And even though Georgetown was bidding against us, when we got it, they said, “Oh good; it’s staying in the mountains.'”
Locomotive No. 111 was the most expensive piece auctioned; most of the other pieces sold for $20,000 to $30,000 Gagen said.
Gagen also bid on a mile of track for $5,000. The town will need some track to load the locomotive onto the flatbed trailer that will bring it to Breckenridge. The town might restore the train to an operating level and run it on town property north of town.
That, however, won’t happen for about six months to a year.
The train will be loaded onto a flatbed truck using train tracks and a winch to hoist it. It will be taken to Strasberg where it will be restored. That move will cost about $2,000; it will cost another $8,000 to get it to Summit County.
Gagen said the train either will be hauled down Interstate 70 to Loveland Pass or down Highway 285 in Park County and over Hoosier Pass.
Restoration work will involve repairing body work and replacing a variety of items that have been removed from the engine.
Restoration to bring the locomotive up to display status is expected to cost $30,000; fixing it so it will actually operate will cost another $20,000 to $25,000. Because Gagen got the locomotive for $56,800 less than the amount the town council limited him to, the town might choose to allocate funds to rebuild the engine, as well.
“It certainly made us feel better knowing that we can get it up and restored at a price less than we had thought,” Gagen said. “There’s not not very many more trains out there.”
According to Waugh, railroad buffs aren’t selling off their cars and engines these days.
“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.”
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.
Gagen said if had he known beforehand that a refrigerated car – called a refer car – also was on the auction block, he might have bid on it, as well. That car ran on the Boreas Pass route before it was transferred to a line in Texas and later sold to South America.
“Unfortunately, it was up (for auction) before the locomotive,” Gagen said, adding that the refer car was purchased by Park County representatives who plan to restore it and keep it in the area.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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