Historic Steam Engine discovered in Barn
New Bulletin Staff Writer
In what can only be described as a national treasure lost in the pages of time, a recent discovery has left many historians scratching their heads.
“When I learned my grandfather’s property was left to me and my husband, I had no idea what we were in for.” Hubbard told the News Bulletin. Upon searching the property, Hubbard’s search lead her to the old barn to which her grandfather never let anyone enter.”I opened the door, and saw the mess of boxes, farm tools, and junk piled up. The usual stuff you would find in an old barn” Hubbard explained, “but then I turned to the right and that’s when I saw it. I jumped and said Oh wow! That’s a train!”
The train is in fact the Denver Rio Grande Western No. 496, built in 1902 by the Baldwin Locomotive Company in Pennsylvania. “What’s interesting about this locomotive is according to the railroad records, No. 496 was scraped in the mid 1950s.” says Wilson Martin, a local railroad historian.
No. 496 operated all over Colorado on the narrow gauge rails of the old Rio Grande. The locomotive was the workhorse of the railroad, and many of the train crews loved operating the train. Unfortunately, Old 496’s career ended when the narrow gauge lines were torn up. Engine 496 was, according to the DRGW records, was scrapped in January 1955. This is what leaves most railroad historians baffled. “The locomotive was at that point, written off, and that was that.” Martin explains. “How the locomotive ended up in the barn is anyone’s guess.”
“The locomotive is in unbelievably great condition. Almost all of the original parts; the bell, the whistle, and the throttle are still on it, and it looks like it is ready to go.” Martin added. The only thing that appears to be missing from the engine is its headlight, which is currently on display at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.
Hubbard told the News Bulletin That her grandfather, William C. Garfield was an employee at the railroad in Salida. His career as an engineer began in 1939 and ended in 1955 when the diesel-electric locomotives replaced the steam engines and Garfield’s job. “When I was a child, grandpa did not want us to go near his barn and if we got to close he would let us know. After finding out what is inside, I now know why. He didn’t want anybody to know the train was in there.”
Garfield protected his secret until his death in 2007 at the age of 92. Hubbard, one of three grandchildren, was the recipient of his property in Maysville according to his Will.
As far as the future of No. 496, Hubbard is uncertain on what to do with the engine. “This was my grandfather’s secret, and he spent his whole life protecting it. I’m not sure what to do with it.”
Several museums have contacted Hubbard asking if she would be interested in donating No. 496 to them, however she is not interested at this time.