Saturday, January 18, 2020

Ever heard of the GSP&P?

In another one of my web-ramblings on the lookout for C&S/South Park stuff, I came across one heck of a group of live-steamers clearly borrowing from DSP&P and C&S heritage.  They run on the property of the Hillcrest Tree Farm in California on a tiny railway called the Hillcrest & Wahtoke RR.

Three of their engines are lettered for the Glenwood, South Park & Pacific.

Consolidation number 13, while modeled after a South Pacific Coast locomotive, is labeled for the GSP&P and carries a herald reminiscent of the C&S columbine logo.

Below is a video of GSP&P 13

Another engine on the roster is GSP&P #5, a mogul.

Here is a video of #5 in action.

The third locomotive labeled for the GSP&P is number 7, a Shay.  Is it me, or is that Jeff Badger, chief mechanical officer of the Georgetown Loop in the photo?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Alpine Tunnel engine house video

I put together a video focusing on the Alpine Tunnel engine house including historical photos lined up with photos from our 2018 visit.  My favorite addition to the video is Dave Moore’s drone shots of the structure.

Ironically, I brought a drone with me on our trip, but due to the time constraints of getting our rental vehicle back, I didn’t have time to use it there.  However, I was glad to discover that Dave had done the very thing I set out to do, and much better as I was a newbie with a drone and would have been too afraid to fly it as high as he did.  Anyway, Dave graciously gave me permission to use his footage.  It was incredible work on his part and I hope to include more of his shots in subsequent videos.

When the Denver, South Park & Pacific built it’s daring route through Alpine Tunnel at over 11,000 feet, it knew its locomotives would need servicing facilities after the tremendous climb to reach the pass.  A stone engine house was built in 1881.  Inside was a water tank, turntable, inspection pit, and coaling platform.  The structure was destroyed in a fire in 1906 and never replaced.  Thanks to the efforts of many volunteers, particularly through The Passport in Time program, and the leadership of Ray Rossman of the National Forest Service, the remains of the engine house have been protected and stabilized.  Many, many others, such as Gene Candelaria, a stone mason, who did stabilization work on some of the walls in 2010, have also put their hands into this work.  New approach tracks, a restored tool shed, and a viewing platform have also been added.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas! A C&S rotary hits the drifts in my imagination

Merry Christmas!  "Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world." -C.S. Lewis

"Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life." -Corrie Ten Boom

Happy Hanukkah! (Our family enjoys celebrating both holidays :) "The Chanukah story still lives, still inspires, telling not just us but the world that though tyranny exists, freedom, with God’s help, will always win the final battle." -Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

I recently watched a video of a 1993 rotary snowplow trip on the Cumbres and Toltec and found myself imagining it actually occurring on the eastern ascent to the Alpine Tunnel.  I took a few screenshots from the video and labeled them with sites along the C&S between Hancock and East Portal that they resemble.

There are, of course, amazing photos of actual C&S rotaries, but it was fun to look at this video to see a rotary in color and in motion in the video.

April 1902, C&S rotary snowplow 99200, westbound, rounding the curve just outside of Hancock.

April 1902, westbound, just after rounding Sawmill Curve.

 April 1902, the rotary plows through snow drifts roughly one mile west of Hancock.

April 1902, westbound, one mile from the east portal, the plow train emerges from wooded right-of-way onto the shelf track and begins to fight a large snow drift.

For the full video, watch below:

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Central City Railroad meeting - What happened?

Since hearing about a meeting in Central City where a group called the Central City Railroad and Mining Museum presented its vision to restore C&S 71 and her attached baggage car to operation, I have been eager to hear what actually happened there.  I posted the question on Central City's Facebook page post about the meeting, but never received a response.  Then I located the following article by Jaclyn Schrock in The Weekly Register-Call.

In the article, posted October 31st, 2019, Schrock details the proceedings of the meeting.  It comes off overly optimistic in my opinion, though I wish them well.  While I certainly have no first hand knowledge of how to construct a tourist railroad, even I know that the existence of "an abundance of grant opportunities to restore trains" can hardly be accurate.

Despite my skepticism, I would love to be wrong!  If this venture could be accomplished with honesty and respect for the historical equipment (unlike what seemed to have occurred during the late '80s-one individual of which is directly involved with this new incarnation), then it would be a delight to see.

*Below is Jaclyn Schrock's article:

The train whistle could be heard in Central City again. Hopes circle like coal smoke for the chugging of steel wheels on 42” narrow gauge rails, July 4th, 2020. As a nonprofit group, Central City Railroad and Mining Museum (CCRMM) has made progress to restore the old train right of ways and acquiring IRS nonprofit status. Nonprofit grants for trains and History Colorado, diligent volunteer efforts cooperating with local government decisions can make reality the revival of engine #71 powered by steam, as in days gone by.

We can see the Colorado and Southern engine #71 with a baggage car on display at the Grand Z Casino and Hotel in Central City, resting after discontinuing service with the tourist train in 1990. At that time #71 was owned by the Gilpin Historical Society, since transferred to Central City. These are the two original pieces of 1870-1949 Colorado and Southern Railroad to be used in starting up phase one of the Central City Railroad and Mining Museum.

On Wednesday, October 23, from 6-8 p.m. the Little Kingdom Room in the Teller House was the gathering place for Central City historic train enthusiasts. The news that “the train is coming” was presented by flyers emailed or posted on social media. Braving the blizzard, about 25 people filled the room along with JKQ menu service, free snacks and beverages. One wall had three posters set on tables displaying photos and text explaining CCRMM’s plan to restore a tourist train beginning in Central City.

The purpose of the meeting was to make public information of the historical hands-on experience plan. Input from the local community was requested about the inclusion of the railroad and mining museum anticipating potential impact regarding more traffic for a hands-on and limited traditional static museum experiences.

The presentation began with Johnny Knapp, CCRMM Secretary enthusiastically announcing the nonprofit status being obtained along with a lease on 220 Spring Street. The funds appear to be in place to construct a temporary facility to dismantle and assure compliance with the mechanisms of engine #71. Moving the locomotive and baggage car to the workshop would follow construction of the building. The temporary design could facilitate a move if or when other station and rail yard options developed.

18,000 feet of track is part of the first phase of the railroad’s plan to allow up 25,000 railroad riders to enjoy the hands-on experience the first summer season. The rail bed would also need to be inspected and made secure for the one way travel of the train to return in reverse. Volunteers are welcomed to join in the restoration and other projects. Dream along with CCRMM on the other phases they ponder with realistic paths to arrive there.

Mr. Knapp explained that CCRMM’s board included himself as Secretary, Bob Bassett acting as President, and Court Hammond, CCRMM’s Chief Operations Officer. Mr. Bassett was unable to attend Wednesday’s gathering. A local citizens’ question about bylaws for CCRMM was answered with an assurance that those are in place and can be made available to those interested.

Also present and speaking was Candice Rosenberger, who brings financial and marketing experience along with personnel relations management to the project. She is working in the capacity of a grant writer as well with CCRMM and enthusiastic to make this dream reality.

It was recognized that there was an abundance of grant opportunities to restore trains. Most require that the rolling stock be owned by a nonprofit group to make funds available. CCRMM is offering options to Central City to consider providing funding to seek further funding to progress the project, or with responsible negotiations release ownership of #71 and the baggage car from Central City to another nonprofit organization. Many opportunities are on the horizon.

Court Hammond was with the previous tourist railroad between Central City and Black Hawk which ran in the late 1980’s. The original passenger and freight train ran from 1878 to 1931. Mr. Hammond is familiar with the operations, correctives learned from experience, and many of the train’s resources origin, condition, and current resting places.

Questions had a wide range, including sparks, noise, and parking from the previous experience with a steam train running through town. All were answered with plans for improvements, including testing various whistles for the residents to select their preferences of the required sounds to warn locals of the train’s forward, backward, and stopping activities. Many locals offered suggestions for potential growth for the project.

Many in the Little Kingdom Room remember the way people came to Central City to relive the experience of riding the train, mining, and hardships of those who settled Gilpin County. In the 1970’s visitors conquered the challenge of steep slopes to contemplate novelties of the ice cream, rock shop, and antique shops. Many still tell tales of who worked in the various restaurants and saloons, living out the ghostly life in the 1980’s of Gilpin County’s government seat. Yet, the tourist train and the city’s charm kept people coming up this mountain, even before the current draw of casinos.

From 1987 through 1990 nearly 55,000 riders boarded the steam engine’s cars to ride the narrow gauge rails between Central City and Black Hawk. Our locally revived steam train, Black Hawk and Central City Tourist Railroad, was part of a travel package for tourists to experience all the narrow gauge trains in Colorado.

The original bridge near the City Hall in Black Hawk was an icon for memories, with the whistles and smoke and well-traveled historians smiling and waving. Seeing the train on that bridge or riding the curves to climb 540 feet in elevation in 4 miles of track, helped many to understand what it took to having mining communities in these mountains, after the Civil War. That steep elevation rise could be traveled with a donkey in a mile, but took over 4 miles of track to make the trip with the elevation changes by train.

The station for the tourist train of the 1980’s in Central City was the former Weekly Register-Call building at 220 Spring Street. The original 1881 Central City train station was buried under mine tailings, and covered with rocks to avoid health concerns at the end of the Big-T parking lot near Central’s City Hall.

Back in 1872, the original old Black Hawk RR station was a stone building that stopped the train from going farther upstream. The Colorado and Southern Railroad had regular trains transporting goods between Denver through Golden and up Clear Creek to that junction (now HWY 119 and US 6 just below the Z-Stop gas station).

From that junction, trains could take the south fork to Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and Silver Plum, or the north fork to Black Hawk and a spur to Floyd Hill. It took six more years to go beyond the stone Black Hawk depot. Improvements graded the railroad bed to progress two more miles up the north fork of Clear Creek to switch back briefly running parallel to the tracks by Clear Creek, 400’ higher in elevation reaching Central City and hoped for Nevadaville.

1881 travel guide books for the Black Hawk/ Central City train ride assured travelers this section was not to be missed.

Late 1980 guests were thrilled by the experience to ride the coal-powered steam train in passenger cars donated by the Rio Grande RR, now that gas engines are the most frequent modes of transportation.

According to Mr. Hammond, the Colorado and Southern (C&G) narrow-gauge lines were formed in 1898 from multiple reformations of railroads. These lines connected Colorado Central and the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroads. The narrow gauge tracks benefited travel in mountain terrain. The four distinct lines united as the Colorado and Southern Railroad included:

The Platte Canyon line from Denver to Como, Colorado
The Gunnison line from Como to Gunnison, via Alpine Tunnel
Highline between Como and Leadville
The Clear Creek line from Denver to Silver Plum, and our branch between Forks Creek and Central City
Major branch lines of the C&G narrow-gauge included: The Gunnison and Baldwin, the Keystone from Dickey, the Black Hawk branch, the Morrison Branch from Denver to Morrison, and the Alma branch from Alma to Como.

The Colorado and Southern, Wikipedia said, did not get new engines, but inherited and used 56 engines in 1900 from the parent railroads. Mr. Hammond says by 1940 the number of engines was down to 15, with five remaining today: #191 is at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. #9 is in Breckenridge. #60 is in Idaho Springs. #74 is in Boulder, and #71 is in Central City.

Engine #71 ran over the entire C&G system, being one of the heaviest engines. It made many trips from Denver to Como, Breckenridge, and Leadville. When segments of those lines were abandoned between 1935-38, #71 ran from Denver to Golden and up Clear Creek to Black Hawk and Idaho Springs.

#71 made its last trip in September of 1940. It was retired in April of 1941 and moved to Black Hawk. Later it was trucked to Central City and put on display at 220 Spring Street.

Current Colorado narrow gauge trains operating include:

–The Georgetown Loop Railroad, part of the old C&S system which served 142,000 passengers in 2018.

–Durango and Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad, with 213,000 passengers in 2018.

–Cubres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Antonito, Colorado with 52,800 passengers in 2018.

Mr. Hammond recognizes many demographic changes in Central City since the former tourist train stopped running. Thirty years ago, it was an addition to the attractions of the historic city’s buildings, cemeteries, and shops with the Opera House, Gilpin Historical Society Visitor’s Center and Museums, and the Hidee Mine.

In 2020, the Central City Railroad and Mining Museum experience hopes to be the anchor of attractions, offering a hands-on thrill. The inclusion of the Art Museum, summer festivals, weekly historical re-enactments and casino choices also draws others to the area.

Emphasizing the hands-on aspect of the mining railroad is the fresh approach for the Central City Railroad and Mining Museum experience. The CCRMM is a drawing source for visitation, because of its broad appeal for visual and hands-on experiences.

Studies analyzing tourism show that more people are looking for live, active history, versus stationary attractions. The CCRMM would draw more people to the towns of Central City and Black Hawk, and increases the time that visitors who are already in town spend experiencing the rest of the attractions that exist in the area.

What do you think about reviving historic train traffic in Gilpin County? Let Central City and Black Hawk know how you feel as they consider these destination attractions to our historic mountain community.

Link to the article at the Weekly Register-Call.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Drone over the Como yard - 2019

The South Park Rail Society recently posted this video by Michael Randol SOCO Elevated Drone Photography Ltd including outstanding drone footage of the Como roundhouse yard.  A light snow blankets the South Park and many new acquisitions of narrow gauge equipment rest outside for their turn to come back to life including two recently acquired Rio Grande stock cars and a drop down gondola.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving! A short 2019 C&S thankfulness list

In honor of Thanksgiving, I put together a small list of C&S-related items that I'm thankful for from 2019.  There are certainly more, but this is what I came up with in the few minutes before I head up to the kitchen to prep for our Thanksgiving guests today.

1. The discovery and acquisition of the only two C&S type 2 boxcars known to exist (found on a farm in western Colorado)

2. The arrival of two C&S Bettendorf freight car trucks from South Dakota that previously had been used on Type 2 stockcars

3. Every stall in the Como roundhouse (minus the office) now has track in it once again.

4. Arrival of the first diesel, a Plymouth, in Como

5. The first new DSP&P timetable in...a few years :)

6. Jason Midyette's restoration and donation of C&S boxcar 8027 to Como

7. The arrival of the first coach, RGS 256, to Como

8. A grant was received for the restoration of C&S gondola 4319 (in Como, on loan from Central City)

9. The C&S railway society's continued work on caboose 1006 in Silver Plume.

10. Two gondolas (Rio Grande) are now on display on the C&S right-of-way in Pine, Colorado (sorry, I don't have a photo of the second one)

11. Discovery of the exact sink needed for restoration of C&S caboose 1008, down to the cast lettering, at the Colorado Railroad Museum

Thank You, dear Father, for the C&S and the joy it brings to so many of us.  And thank You for all the hard work done by so many this past year!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Video of Highlights along The Road to the West Portal

In the video below I put together highlights of the C&S route from Quartz to just before the Alpine Tunnel station complex.

Included are:
-several rock walls other than the famous ones
-three water tank locations
-a remaining telegraph pole
-the Palisades
-avalanche damage to the rock wall
-split rock
-rock work along the right-of-way
-Sherrod curve
-and more