1819 Improvements are on the Right Track

1819 Steam Locomotive at Lamar Chamber/Welcome Center



The upgrade, clean-up and paint job for the steam locomotive and coal car, the #1819 “Prairie Engine” that serves as a representation of the routes of travel across the High Plains, is almost complete.  For the past several weeks, employees from Royalty Construction, which is a locally owned and operated construction enterprise, have been at work with a restoration project initiated by the City of Lamar.

Work in Progress

The train needed it.  No one disputes that at all.  For several years, discolored spray foam has been leaking from the engine compartments making it look like it was hemorrhaging Oompa Loompas!  The Prowers County Lodging Tax Panel had considered allocating their funds towards a revamp project, but the by-laws of the county-promotion organization prevented it from spending money on material items, only on advertising and marketing-based promotions.

Each winter, the city has decorated the train at the Chamber/Welcome Center with holiday lights, and several years ago, a chain-link fence was erected around the perimeter of the train to keep anyone from climbing aboard or vandalizing the display.

The Royalty Construction crew started by water-blasting and scrubbing away all the accumulated gunk and debris such as grease and oil that had been painted over.  A number of grinders was used to remove all the foam which had hardened over the years and all the rust spots were ground down to the bare metal before new coats of paint could be applied.

One employee who handled a lot of work on the engine itself said that job offered its own set of problems, “There was so much build-up of foam that it covered a lot of the exterior piping and tubing on the engine.  I had to Google a look at the original models to be able to tell just how all the fittings and piping went together on the left and right sides of the engine.”

The restoration should be complete by the end of the week and visitors to the Chamber and Welcome Center will enjoy a fresh look of a means of transportation that spanned a continent.  Service from this area to Los Angeles was established in 1888.  The Santa Fe line was built in 1873, stretching from Granada to the Kansas state line, but was halted due to lack of investment funds from a nationwide financial panic.

According to the website for the Great High Prairie, the train has had several berths in Lamar:

“The 1819 “Prairie” Engine was donated to the City of Lamar in 1956. In February, 1956, it was pulled down 4th Street using portable track sections to a location next to the Carnegie Library (Now the Lamar City Complex).

When Lamar was chosen as a location for a Colorado Welcome Center and the original train depot was refurbished, it was only fitting that Engine 1819 should live by the depot. Once again, it was pulled down 4th Street on portable track sections in February 1991.”

By Russ Baldwin



Filed Under: Chamber of CommerceCity of LamarEntertainmentEnvironmentEventsFeaturedHistoryLamar Chamber of CommerceTransportation


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