In June of 2018 D&RGW 315 led this photo freight from Antonito to Cumbres Pass and back to Antonito the next day. This video captures 315 leaving Cumbres Pass on its way toward Antonito.
Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad 315 was built in July 1895 by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad. Named the Elkton, it was one of twelve Consolidations of the same class built for F&CC. It served the Florence & Cripple Creek for about 17 years. After the flood of 1912, the F&CC was financially unable to repair its roadway, so it was isolated at Canyon City and then put into storage at Colorado Springs after the F&CC closed down in 1915. The Elkton and her sister engines sat derelict until 1917 when five of them were purchased by the D&RG. D&RG bought a sixth sister in 1920. The engines were loaded aboard D&RG flat cars and moved to the D&RG Burnham Shops in Denver, where they were repaired and upgraded to help meet the increased transportation demands of World War I.
When the engines were put into service the F&CC #3 became D&RG #425. After the reorganization of D&RG and its merger with the Rio Grande Western in Utah in 1921, the railroad became the Denver & Rio Grande Western. The locomotive was called D&RGW #425 for a short time. Following the reorganization, many locomotives were renumbered to bring order to the locomotive classes, and D&RGW #425 became D&RGW #315 in January 1924.
The 315 was first assigned to the Alamosa Division as a freight engine, where it was known to be in Chama around 1921-22 and in Durango around 1928. It was leased to the Rio Grande Southern for a period in 1926-1927. It was on the Gunnison Branch in 1929 and idle in Salida for a few years after the stock market crashed and again in the late 1930s during a recession. It served the Ouray Branch out of Montrose from 1933–1936 and again during 1939–1941. By the early 1940’s, as bigger locomotives came on the line, many of the smaller 2-8-0s were either being scrapped or used as yard engines. In March of 1941 the 315 was sidelined for a few months. It was taken to Alamosa for repairs during September and October, then sent to Durango to become a yard engine. At this time, it gained a rear light and had the road pilot replaced with a switchman platform. It was shopped again in 1945, receiving new flues and other major work.
In 1948 the 315 was used in the Warner Brothers movie, Colorado Territory. When released in June 1949, it was the first of many films made by Hollywood in the Durango area, which saved the Silverton Branch line through tourism. The 315 remained in service in Durango until October 1949.
Jackson Clark and the Durango Rotary Club saved the 315 from being scrapped by convincing the D&RGW to lease it to the city for display. The 315 was placed in Brookside Park on North Main Street in September 1950. When the D&RGs was getting ready to abandon the Durango to Alamosa line, the 315 was donated to the Chamber of Commerce in 1968. In 1986 the 315 was moved to Gateway Park, now Santa Rita Park, to be near the new visitors center.
Since being displayed in a park the 315 received numerous coats of paint and lost a number of parts. In October 2000, at the request of the DRHS, the locomotive was granted a historic landmark designation by the City of Durango. In December 2000 the Chamber of Commerce transferred ownership to the City of Durango.
The 315 normally operates on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad during that railroad's annual Railfest event held every August. In 2016, the 315 made a return to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to participate in their Narrow Gauge Rendezvous event held on August 25. It remained on the C&TS to play a part in the festivities associated with 37th National Narrow Gauge Convention on September 4, 2017.