National and State Register

Rio Grande Southern Railroad Trout Lake Water Tank

San Miguel County

A rare surviving example of a once common structure in Colorado’s railroad landscape, the tank provided water to countless steam locomotives on the Ridgway to Rico division of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) from its construction in 1891 until the last RGS train ran the line in 1951. 

A picture of the tank with red sides and conical roof with foliage and mountains in the background.

Rio Grande Southern Railroad Trout Lake Water Tank

The tank was a very necessary stop, especially for trains that consumed a great deal of water while working in the area’s heavy snows and difficult terrain.  The RGS constructed sixteen water tanks, at approximately ten-mile increments, along its 162-mile length to service locomotives.  These tanks were of wood construction with conical roofs and a 50,000-gallon capacity that dispensed water by gravity through a goose neck delivery spout.  After abandonment, all but three of the water tanks were removed, and Trout Lake is the best preserved.  Listed under Railroads in Colorado, 1858-1948 Multiple Property Submission.