C-19 Individual Locomotive History

D&RGW No. 343


Locomotive No. 343 started life on the Denver & Rio Grande Railway as Class 70 road number 403 and carrying the name "Roaring Forks" which was soon changed to "New Mexico”. The 403 went to work alongside the cadre of Class 56 and 60 consolidations pulling the late 19th century ladings over Marshall Pass and the Gunnison Extension. Through many years of service, the 403 underwent typical conversions with the addition of automatic couplers, an electric headlight, boiler replacement, as well as numerous cosmetic changes ranging from cabs to smokestacks. Engine 403 was re-numbered 343 in 1924 during the D&RGW power re-classification and was then given the C-19 designation. The locomotive and two of its sister class C-19s were leased to the Colorado and Southern narrow gauge line during the lean depression years between 1936 and 1937 to assist the ailing railroad in its motive power deficit. No. 343 remained in its D&RGW livery and paint throughout this time period with the only change being the addition of the well-known C&S style Ridgway Spark Arrestor. The 343 rolled through C&S country to Leadville wearing its D&RGW Royal Gorge Route herald scheme until April of 1937. As the end of operations was rapidly approaching for the C&S, the C-19s were returned to the D&RGW by flatcar to Alamosa. After 60 years of service, the 343 ultimately met the scrappers torch in the spring of 1941.