Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
2 Locomotive Engines in Boneyard
Melody Ranch, Placerita Canyon

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Boneyard ~1960s

Going Home 1972

At Home 1995

Under Steam 2015

Two of the locomotives that actor Gene Autry collected, sitting in the boneyard at his Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon, probably after 1962 and no later than 1972, when Autry donated the 2-8-2 engine in the foreground to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (see below).

We can't positively identify the engine behind it from a single visible numeral, but it's probably the 2-6-0 Mogul No. 1629, which Autry donated in 1982 to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.

About Engine No. 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 town of Antonito gave Engine 463 to the Cumbres & Toltec to restore; the restoration was complete in 1994 and it began hauling 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.

About Engine No. 1629.

Southern Pacific Mogul Engine No. 1629 is a class M4 engine weighing 75 tons, with wheels 2-6-0 (two leading wheels on one axle, six powered and coupled driving wheels on three axles, no trailing wheels). The steam locomotive was built in 1900 at Schenectady, N.Y., and purchased by the Southern Pacific Railroad for use on the line that ran from Yuma, Ariz., to Portland, Ore., passing through the Santa Clarita Valley.

When it was retired from service, Western actor Gene Autry purchased it and added it to his new and growing collection of locomotives at his Melody Ranch studio in Placerita Canyon. Engine No. 1629 was his fifth such acquisition; it was delivered June 17, 1957 (The Signal, June 20, 1957). It appeared in television series such as "Gunsmoke" and "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp."

According to The Signal, in 1957 Autry planned to open Melody Ranch to the public and was preparing to lay track for a narrow-gauge train that would take tourists on rides around the ranch. It was part of his plan to open a Western museum on the property. The 1962 fire snuffed out that idea — but luckily, it didn't completely kill it. Autry would see his dream come true at Griffith Park.

Autry donated S.P. No. 1629 in 1981 to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, and it was moved April 22, 1982, to its present location next to the Saugus Depot using donated funds.

LW2750: 19200 dpi jpeg from 8x10 glossy copy print (printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper, which was introduced Nov. 30, 1997).
• 1952-1962 Pre-Fire
• 1962 Fire
• 1962-1990 Post-Fire
• Veluzat Era 1991—

1962-1990 Post-Fire

Autry's Memories

Caretaker's Story


Train Collection

2 Locomotives

Engine 463, 1972 x2

Autry's Widow Withdraws Burbank Museum Plan 1985

Autry Obituary

Engine 463 Under Steam 2015

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