Adams State and San Luis Rio Grande Railroad restore locomotive; ASU locomotive will pull first tourist passenger train back to La Veta Pass on July 28


train locomotive on railroad bridge heading east blue sky green landscape surrounding tracks

Photo by Mike Henderson

The opportunity to refurbish a 40,000-ton locomotive brought two of Alamosa and the San Luis Valley’s cornerstone industries together. You’ll see the result on the railroad tracks.

Adams State University and San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad restored a working locomotive with the Adams State brand as a tribute to their shared history as two of the major industries shaping Alamosa and the San Luis Valley for nearly 100 years.

The restored locomotive will be used by SLRG to pull cars – freight and tourist – across its 154 miles of tracks on three lines radiating from Alamosa.

“This is a signature project that represents Adams State on the move and reflects the pride the University has in its hometown of Alamosa and the San Luis Valley region which it has served for nearly 100 years,” said ASU Marketing Director Chris Lopez.

“We were thrilled that Adams State expressed an interest in helping us restore one of our locomotives,” said SLRG General Manager Emily Ellis. “It’s exciting to see the Adams State colors being carried along the tracks as a representation of our home in Alamosa and our commitment to the San Luis Valley.”

Adams State art students Andrew Rascon and Robert Gallegos created the original design for the project as part of their final semester work before graduation in May.

man dressed in white full body suit scrubbing train locomotive

Both worked with Lopez to sand the locomotive and prepare it for paint and graphics.

Adams State contracted with Baroz Auto and Paint in La Jara to spray the locomotive ASU green, black and white, and Extreme Graphics of Alamosa finished the restoration with graphic elements.

The SLRG maintenance shop crew had engine repairs to complete before the locomotive was finally released back onto the tracks on Wednesday after two months of restoration.

The Adams State 1921 Locomotive will begin hauling freight this week. Then on Saturday, July 28, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad will take over the locomotive and use it to haul tourist passengers to the railroad's first concert excursion on La Veta Pass since the Spring Creek Fire. Alcon Construction is rebuilding the concert stage on La Veta Pass with support from community members.

"It will be such a wonderful day to show off the Adams State locomotive and have it pull the first train cars to La Veta since the area was devastated by fire this month," said Ellis.

Matt Abbey, former local head of the scenic railroad, was instrumental in bringing together Adams State and Rio Grande railroad for the project. He's also been essential to the scenic tourist train and will be on hand when the ASU Locomotive hits the tracks.

train locomotive painted green and black with adams state univeristy text and logo on railroad bridge blue sky with wispy white clouds above green bushes and trees in foreground and background

Photo by Mike Henderson

Details: On July 28, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is back in action. RGSR will re-start its Mountain Rails Live Concert series with the Peter Yarrow concert. The Scenic Railroad train, pulled by a restored locomotive bearing Adams State colors, will leave the train yard at 10:30 a.m. on July 28. The public is invited to stop by the train yard at 10 a.m. to see the Adams State locomotive. ASU will give away train whistles during that time. Tickets for the concert are available. For ticket information visit Colorado Train Concerts.