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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Last Mason Bogie - another look

We visited the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield village again in October 2019 and caught a bit of footage of the Torch Lake, the last remaining Mason Bogie in the world.  One of the docents explained that she was hidden (intentionally?) in the back of a shed behind other locos when taken out of service.  This is what allowed her to avoid being scrapped (like DSP&P 57 was scrapped) for the wartime scrap drive during WWII.

The Torch Lake was originally narrow gauge, just barely.  She was built as 4 foot 1 inch gauge, but later standard gauged.

Another bit of interesting info from the Henry Ford site:
"The last time the Torch was fired-up by the Calumet & Hecla Mining Co. was in 1933. Being the last of their steam locomotives and after 50 years of service, it was decided to place the Torch Lake in indefinite storage. The locomotive had to be towed on the mainline part of its journey to storage due to it not having air brakes. When the main line portion of the trip was completed, it was left on a siding at Lake Linden. The boiler was fired up and it continued under its own power. As they crossed a bridge and main highway on the way to Ahmeek, Mich., engineer Edward Carter blew a long whistle thinking this would be the last steam train whistle heard in the Keweenaw Peninsula. It was placed in a storage shed at the C & H facility in Ahmeek, drained of water and left there untouched until 1966.

"That same year the Torch Lake was pulled out of the shed and towed to Calumet, Mich., to become part of the Calumet & Hecla Centennial. The train was cleaned, painted and put on display. After the Centennial, C & H offered the locomotive to the Edison Institute (now The Henry Ford) as a gift."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

C&S 71 could steam again: exciting or concerning?

When I was in the Clear Creek area back in 2018, I got talking with someone from the rail restoration community who commented that Court Hammond, the driving force behind the 1987-1990 restoration of C&S 71 for his Black Hawk and Central City Narrow Gauge Railroad, was again trying to gain access to 71 and run her again.  As many are aware, many were not happy with various aspects of what happened during that short revival of No. 71. 

Then, last week, another South Park forum shared the following flier:

After doing further research I discovered that the "Central City Railroad & Mining Museum" submitted an "Application for Land Use Permit" to the Central City Planning Commission on July 26th, 2019.  In the document (below) it states that this group has been talking with the City for two years about the project and that the City "has expressed an interest in assisting with the railroad."  The group's goal is to reestablish "the narrow-gauge tourist railway that ran in Central City during the late 1980's."

Many have serious doubts and concerns about this proposal.  Those who have much more insight on the subject than myself expressed their opinions in this thread from the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

C&S cars on the WP&Y

As the C&S narrow gauge wound down and World War II wound up, the US Army shipped a large volume of former C&S rolling stock up to Alaska to work on the White Pass & Yukon Railway. 

Recently I located a site run by Boerries Burkhardt.  He has attempted the amazing job of making an inventory of every WP&Y piece of equipment, including:

A ton of photos of ex-C&S boxcars

Photos of ex-C&S flat cars

Photos of ex-C&S refrigerator cars

One photo of ex-C&S locomotive No.69

Friday, October 11, 2019

Visit the summit of Boreas Pass! Video

Before I had visited Boreas Pass summit myself I could never get a good sense of what it looked like.  It just seemed so nondescript compared to the Alpine Tunnel station area.  I finally visited in 2018.  I put together this video especially for those who haven't been there to get a sense of the layout and facilities that once were there, the remains of those gone, and the restored aspects at present.  I also tried to line up some historical photos with my photos and video.

My apologies for not filming the inside of the section house.  We had to make it to Boulder by the evening and couldn't linger as much as I would have liked.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Two more C&S boxcars found!

The C&S saved a few pieces of narrow gauge rolling stock like engines 71, 60, and 9, as well as coach 70, caboose 1006, gondola 4319, combine 20, and the three passenger cars now in Silver Plume.

Jason Midyette Photo of C&S 8027 in 2005
Sales to other railroads inadvertently led to the saving of others like engines 74 and 32 (DSP&P 191), the refrigerator and stock car at the Colorado Railroad Museum, and the two reconstructed boxcars at Breckenridge and Boreas Pass. 

Curiously, the other source of rolling stock salvation has been a bit surprising-use as sheds.

Old railroad cars have sometimes been purchased by local individuals to be used as sheds.  Two C&S baggage cars, #2 and #3 both retired in January 1939, found a prolonged life this way.  Both ended up on the ground near Longmont, Colorado.  #2, specifically, was dismantled in July 1939 and the body sold to F.W. Kimmel of Lyon, Colorado.

Baggage car #3, however, though sighted for decades as a shed, was destroyed by a developer in 2005, despite assurances that it would be saved.  According to Jason Midyette, "another C&S car on the property, possibly thought to be Baggage/Mail car 11, was destroyed at the same time."

Her identical sister, #2, however, found a new home.  In 1980 the 1874 baggage car was moved to the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Nebraska.  The baggage car is reportedly not in good shape, having rotted quite a bit from her years as a shed, but is preserved nonetheless.

C&S 1008
A few other cars survived for a period of time as sheds or tool cars.  Combination car #30 was converted to a tool car and then used as a shed in Leadville.  Mallory Hope Ferrell's C&Sng lists it still there as late as 1959.  Mail-coach #42 was dismantled in May of 1939, and then the body was sold, and placed on the ground at the end of the Silica branch.  I could find no details of the whereabouts of either car at the present time.

Caboose 1008 is an example of another car that survived as a shed.  It was discovered in California, decades after it was assumed scrapped.  It is now undergoing restoration.

Another recent car saved from toolshed life was C&S boxcar 8027. According to the GoFundMe
Jason Midyette Photo of C&S 8027 in 2005
page that helped bring this car home to Como, 8027 was "'Dismantled' in Denver in January of 1939. Stripped of its metal parts, the carbody was sold to a farmer east of Boulder where it was used as a calving shed and general storage until early 2005. Acquired by a private owner in 2005, the car was slowly restored over the next several years."  That owner, Jason Midyette, did a stunning job restoring it in Kansas, and it now resides in Como.

Well finally, the good news!  Two more piece of C&S rolling stock have been found!!!

The South Park Rail Society recently announced, "We have successfully acquired the only two C&S type 2 boxcars currently known to exist.  These two cars are located on a farm in Western Colorado. The South Park Rail Society needs your assistance to raise the required funds to load and ship these boxcars to Como Colorado for restoration  and display. Additionally some of the funds will be used to  purchase and ship two original sets of historically correct "Bettendorf" Cast steel narrow gauge trucks to go under these boxcars. The final phase of the project will see all of these boxcars restored to operational condition."

This is quite honestly an amazing discovery!  Please follow this link to learn more and to contribute a gift to help this excellent work come to fruition.

Photos below are from the Fund Raising site.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

West Portal of Alpine Tunnel 1991 video

In the late '80s, I discovered the Alpine Tunnel in a magazine I bought at a rummage sale.  Fascinated, I then devoured Historic Alpine Tunnel and Poor's DSP&P book from the local Ohio library.  My parents, recognizing my growing passion for the subject, took our family out to visit this amazing place for the first time in 1991.  This is the home movie filmed on a Panasonic VHS-C video camera, complemented by cheesy Windows Movie Maker title slides that I added years later.  I'm not sure where the original file with the audio is, so I added new music over some old soundtrack.
Enjoy!  (Some points of curiosity in the video are listed below)

Some points of curiosity:

  • The snow sheds at the portal were still scattered over the approach to the portal (today all of the wood has been removed)
  • The rails were still under the snow shed debris (all of these rails were later removed and reused on the rebuilt track near the station complex).
  • A small replica of the arch had been erected in the beginning of the cut to the portal.  If I recall correctly, a school teacher and class had created this (this has since been removed).
  • Water all around it was the water still trickling out from the tunnel.
  • The stone facing of the portal was so covered in sliding dirt and rock that someone had created a makeshift rectangle of wood to keep some tiny access to it.
  • The turntable was in nearly complete ruin (Today much has been restored and track has been relaid on the approach)
  • The other turntable in the remains of the engine house had not yet been excavated.
  • No track had been rebuilt yet on the roadbed.
  • A random length of rail was laying on the former roadbed leading to the engine house.
  • The coal bin had not been restored.  One can see a side of it had collapsed.
  • From the back of the station/telegraph office you can see the collapsed privy that today has been fully restored.
  • The cellar in the ground near the front of the collapsed boarding house has not yet been restored.
  • The railroad has come and gone and restorations have occurred, but the one constant is: those little marmots are still all over the place! :)