COBWEB CORNERS: No saving locomotive #59
By Mel McFarland
Midland Terminal locomotive number 59 was used to pull the last two passenger trains to Cripple Creek and Colorado City. A group wanted to save it from the scrapper's torch in 1949 when the railroad was being cut up. A group effort to save the engine as it sat in the yards included Colorado Springs City Councilman Harry Blunt. The prominent Westside businessman was the first to endorse the idea. Colorado Springs had D&RGW #168, Manitou had M&PP #2, so why not MT #59 in Bancroft Park!
Six Midland locomotives had already been cut up, and others were sold and shipped away. Number 60 and 59 were still used in the yards to move cars to be cut up and burned. The Texas company had a US Army diesel, the only one to ever run on the Midland, up in Ute Pass helping to lift the iron rails. Number 59 was almost the oldest engine on the railroad. Engine 60 was a bit newer. The last runs had used 59 because it was mainly used on passenger trains. It was thought that the scrap value was not worth what it would cost to cut it up. John Bock Sr. put up the first money to save the locomotive. He even offered property near the park on 26th, then called Midland Park, if Bancroft Park could not be used.
But the Golden Cycle company refused. Its owners went to the scrapping company and said it could sell anything to anyone, except for a Colorado City group. Some cars were sold, including the observation car used on the last trains - it going to New Mexico. Other cars were moved to junk yards and outside of town. The idea of a Colorado City monument to the Midland was not in the Golden Cycle plans. The company was still upset by the railroaders, most of whom lived in Colorado City, going on strike in 1948.
A few bits were salvaged by collectors. The last engines were quickly put to the torch when it appeared they might actually raise enough money to pay more than the scrapper had set for a price. Today there are items from 59 in Pioneers' Museum. A family of one Westside businessman has several parts off 59 that were saved at the last minute. Another collector, a well-known historian and physician, also was able to obtain a few items. In the late 1960s, the observation car returned from New Mexico to be put in the railroad museum in Golden. The last private car to be used on the Midland Terminal sat in Ute Pass near Green Mountain Falls before it moved near Aspen in the 1950s, then to Las Vegas, Nevada, for restoration in the 1990s, where it sits today outside a casino.