Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> MELODY RANCH
Gene Autry's Engine 463 At Home
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

ENGINE 463

thumbnail
Boneyard ~1960s

thumbnail
Going Home 1972

thumbnail
At Home 1995

thumbnail
Under Steam 2015

Gene Autry's Engine 463, which he acquired in 1955 and kept at Melody Ranch, is put back to work on a historic section of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. Photo 1995 at the Chama train yard.

About Engine 463.

Known as "mudhens" because they would frequently derail on lighweight rails and scoot across the ties like a waddling hen, Engine 463 is a narrow gague (3-foot) K-27 class 2-8-2 built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1903 and used until 1955 on the Silverton (Southern) Branch of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (renamed Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1924). Engine 463 is one of only two surviving K-27s.

Gene Autry purchased the locomotive in 1955 after it was retired from service and kept it at his Melody Ranch studio in Placerita Canyon, which he intended to transform into a Western museum. Engine No. 463 was used as a movie prop (as were other retired locomotives, including the Mogul Engine No. 1629, which Autry later gave to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society) until a 1962 wildfire devastated the property and dashed his plans.

The 463 was a derelict when, in March 1972, Autry "returned" it to the town of Antonito, Colo., for the new Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which the states of Colorado and New Mexico jointly created in 1970 when they purhcased the line between between Chama, N.M., and Antonito from the old Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.

The trip home was a comedy of errors, some not so funny. Autry agreed to give the engine and tender to Antonito on condition the town pay the estimated $4,000 shipping cost. Owl Trucking and Construction Co. of Compton donated its services to bring No. 463 and its tender from Melody Ranch to the SPRR Saugus depot (in Saugus) — normally an $8,000 job (The Signal, March 15, 1972.)

Loaded onto a flatcar that was part of a regular Southern Pacific freight train, the engine and tender were sent it to Los Angeles to be weighed, in order to calculate the freight bill. It came in at double the expected amount — $7,980. The tiny town of 1,512 souls couldn't afford it. After some haggling, they were allowed to make payments.

Duly weighed, the first flatcar was found to be too small, and the second was defective. Each move from one flatcar to another was a $1,100 job that involved 10 men, and it didn't go smoothly. Eventally the package was on its way; the SPRR shipped the engine and tender to Ogden, Utah, where they changed tracks (to the Rio Grande tracks) and headed east to Colorado, arriving March 25, 1972.

The town of Antonito handed over the engine and tender to the Cumbres & Toltec to restore. The restoration was complete in 1994, and No. 463 began to transport tourists.

Engine 463 threw a side rod in 2002 and was taken out of service. In 2009, it was moved to the railroad's shop at Chama, where it was rebuilt. It returned to service in Spring 2013. As of 2015 it is the smallest engine on the line.

A tourist line that uses part of the San Joan Extension of the Denver & Rio Grande, the C and TS is still owned and administered jointly by New Mexico and Colorado. It is America's longest and highest narrow-gauge railroad and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is leased to a private operator who is responsible for carrying tourists on scheduled rides and maintaining the rolling stock and the associated rail museum.


image
Click image to enlarge.


image
Click image to enlarge.


image
Click image to enlarge.


LW2165: 9600 dpi jpeg from 72 dpi jpeg
MELODY RANCH CATEGORIES:
• 1952-1962 Pre-Fire
• 1962 Fire
• 1962-1990 Post-Fire
• Veluzat Era 1991—

MELODY RANCH
1962-1990 Post-Fire

thumbnail
Autry's Memories

thumbnail
Caretaker's Story

thumbnail

Train Collection

thumbnail
2 Locomotives

thumbnail
Engine 463, 1972 x2

thumbnail
Autry's Widow Withdraws Burbank Museum Plan 1985

thumbnail
Autry Obituary

thumbnail
Engine 463 Under Steam 2015

RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ]
SCVHistory.com is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV • Additional copyrights apply