Leadville, Colorado & Southern

In 1880, the Denver & Rio Grande railroad was the first to reach the Leadville Mining District.  Several other railroads soon followed.  In the style of western railroading of the time numerous skirmishes were fought between the railroads in an attempt to restrict competition.  The D&RG several times blocked the track of competitors to prevent access.

The Denver, South Park & Pacific railroad took the high ground to Leadville, building the highline route eventually used by Burlington Northern and is where the current railroad is located.  Burlington Northern abandoned the route in 1987 when the last mine, Climax, closed.

In 1987, 14 miles of track, Depot, Roundhouse, 2 engines, and assorted rolling stock was purchased from Burlington Northern for $10.00.  The remaining track was pulled. An interesting note is that the D&RGW, not BN, delivered the equipment.

The Leadville, Colorado & Southern made its first run on Memorial Day 1988.

The train backs 11 miles out of Leadville to where you can overlook the Climax mine, then returns to town, stopping at the old water tower for a leg stretch and cab tour. Round trip is roughly two hours. Cab and caboose rides are available for an additional fee.

The Climax mine may be reopening in the next couple years, but there are no plans to reestablish rail service.


Two ex-Burlington Northern GP-9's provide the power.

Engine type: GP-9
Engine numbers: 1714, 1918
Builder: EMD
Year built: 1954-59
Wheel arrangement: B-B
Weight of locomotive (lbs): 240,000
Wheel diameter (inch): 40
Engine: EMD 567C 16 cyl
Engine (hp): 1,500
Top speed (mph): 65
Tractive effort (lbs): 40.000 continuous 65,000 starting
Diesel (gallon): 800

Rolling Stock

The railroad obtained several flat cars as part of the only equipment purchase they have made.  Several were converted to open and closed observation cars.  Bus seats were obtained from RTD in Denver.  A box car was converted to a snack bar & gift shop.

Due to the train backing through town, the caboose is equipped with a headlight and horn.  A train crew member rides in it and signals all crossings.

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