Steam Engine 638 in Trinidad, Colorado
The last coal-burning steam engine used by the Colorado and Southern Railroad (C&S) sits across the street from a chain grocery store, looking a bit like an old vehicle a driver left and forgot to pick up. Only a small sign standing near its front gives any hints of the train’s former importance.
Trains like Steam Engine 683 transformed the American west. They chugged along ribbons of tracks that wound across the sprawling landscapes, stitching vast regions together and letting the American settlers venture farther and farther across the continent.
Steam Engine 683 was built in 1906. C&S used it to lug supplies throughout Colorado. The train transported heavy goods like cattle, coal, agricultural goods, and various other merchandise across the state.
But as it turns out, the train’s days were numbered. After decades of service, Steam Engine 683 was officially retired in 1963. Its days of hauling livestock across the lands are now long over. The locomotive now sits behind a small fence in Trinidad, Colorado, looking like a lonely tribute to the railroads of the Wild West.