Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Drone footage of the C&S right-of-way in Central City

I have long been interested in the two resurrections of the C&S railway in Central City.  I wrote an article in The Bogies and the Loop not too long ago chronicling both endeavors.  I've also written some posts about it as well including looking at C&S post abandonment mileage, a look at some 1968 shots of the first reincarnation, a look at the curious track engine used on the second reincarnation, and a look at combination car No. 20.  The article on the five remaining C&S locos also discusses these tourist routes in the history of engine 71.

But just the other day I happened on a very unique video on Youtube where someone used a drone to film the entire length of the abandoned Blackhawk and Central City Narrow Gauge Railroad right of way (as the tourist route was named in the late 1980's).  Never having had the chance to walk this old grade, the video gives a great sense of the route as it snakes around the mountainous terrain.

The video begins at the spot where No. 71 and her gondola and combine were first put on display in 1941.  The spot also served as the boarding site for the next two tourist railroads that used the grade.  Directly across the street is a parking lot that has a hill next to it.  That hill, made of mine tailings, is actually on top of the second Central City depot.  The mine tailings simply buried the building over the years.

No. 71 was moved next to a casino.  Can anyone spot it in the video?  I haven't noticed it yet.

The Rocky Mountain Flyers, who produced the video have the following as a caption: "Second run of our Litchi waypoint mission to film the rail bed of the old Black Hawk to Central City Railroad. Hopefully to become an active line again. Google Earth programmed mission, tweaked in Litchi hub, flown on Phantom 3 4K drone in the mountains of Colorado."

I would love to know what "Hopefully to become an active line again" means!

I found out that they also posted the same video again but zoomed in.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Once Upon a Depot: The Many Lives of Georgetown Station

This article first appeared in the January 2015 edition of The Bogies and the Loop

Once Upon a Depot:
The many lives of Georgetown Station
by Kurt Maechner

On a warm, June day in 1939 a dusty, old trophy was finally taken off the shelf.  The high bridge, crown of the Georgetown Loop, a trophy of engineering and tourism, was pulled apart limb by limb.  As the gravediggers did their work on high, they could look down and see the once proud Georgetown depot, shuttered since 1937, decaying next to the now naked railroad ties.

And there the story may have ended.  It is unclear just what became of the depot from the last page of its railroad life to the 1950s, other than Mac Poor’s comment that it was sold for a degrading $50.  By the middle of the century, though, the likely denouement was for the building to be erased from the page by the ominous highway slated to lay asphalt right over it.  

Unlike some other C&S depots that vanished after their book was shut (such as Gunnison’s that incidentally got overrun by a highway), the station at Georgetown got itself a sequel.  Two plot twists made this possible.  The first was the dogged campaign of then mayor of Georgetown, James Grafton Rogers, to kick I-70 up the side of the valley and save “The Park.”  This saved not only the chance for steam to rise again from the resurrected Loop, but also pulled the depot out from underneath the oncoming interstate steamrollers.

The second twist in the tale is the arrival of two failed entrepreneurs.  Bill Brough and Hugh Johnson, who tried and failed at running a bus company, saw an opportunity to cash in on the growing inflow of tourists due to nearby Loveland Ski area by having a go at opening a restaurant in Georgetown.  They purchased the old station and each weekend drove in from Boulder to serve hungry skiers.

In 1953 a Nebraska native by the name of Dwight Jones bought the station and took the fledgling restaurant one step farther by completely changing the building’s image.  He gave it a Swiss chalet makeover, and christened it The Alpine Inn Restaurant. 

Just a few years later, in 1960, a principle character entered the story of the depot’s second life.  Bob Gibbs, an ambitious young man, came on board as a bartender and manager.  Just seven years later, however, he went on to buy the Inn outright from Jones, and then managed it faithfully for more than two decades.

As Bob’s life grew, so did the old station’s.  The Alpine Inn could seat 250 people and often served 400 dinners a night.  In addition, a successful hotel complex was added near the restaurant in the early 60s.    

The depot was not the only place that was changing; the town around it was changing too.  From a ski town to a national historical district, Bob saw the little valley hamlet transform.  One of the most significant changes began in the 1970s with the reconstruction of the fabled C&S line from Silver Plume to the old abutments of the high bridge above Georgetown.  The vision of reconstructing the Loop as a tourist line had finally moved from dream to reality.  In 1984, 45 years after the original was scrapped to oblivion, the resurrected bridge once again echoed the squeal of a locomotive wheel down into the valley below. 

As the trains began to chug and the decades wore on, Gibbs’ Alpine Inn continued to flourish, serving locals, skiers, tourists, and train buffs.  By the time that the 1980’s were wrapping up, however, Bob was ready to move on from the restaurant business.  It was time for someone else to write another chapter in the depot’s life.

When Bob put the old Georgetown station up for lease, Lindsey and Rosa Ashby, operators of the Georgetown Loop Railroad (GLRR), took him up on the offer and eventually purchased the building in 1995. 

The Ashbys wrote the life of a railroad back onto the page.  They built an annex on the depot as a home office for the two tourist railroads that they operated, the GLRR and the Royal Gorge Railroad.  A concession was also added to the station with a snack bar serving breakfast and light lunch, though they quickly found out that it didn’t work well.  What did work, though, was a very nice train-themed gift shop.

Most importantly, the depot returned to one of its original functions: it was once again a ticket office for train fare.  For a number of years, tourists wanting to ride the famed Loop had to pick up their tickets at the depot and then drive to Silver Plume to catch the train. 

The plot, however, didn’t stay placid for long before there was one final twist.  In the middle of the 2000s, ownership of the GLRR operations changed. 

Once the Ashbys moved out, the Georgetown depot was vacant once more.  Here is where our protagonist comes back into the story.  Bob Gibbs, who had moved from the restaurant world to realty, returned to the story of the station when he was called upon to try to sell it, which he did to the present owners. 
Today the old Georgetown station thrives again as a reincarnation of its food-serving life.  It was rechristened “The Alpine Restaurant and Bar,” its logo heralding its two sources of life: a train on the high bridge at the top, and a skier on the side.  The Alpine, according to its website, offers both lunch and dinner “homemade from scratch!”  In addition to cuisine, the owners host live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

According to Bob Gibbs, all the original interior station walls, though covered in modern accouterments, still proudly retain the shape of rooms that long ago served a tiny, but determined railroad in the valley.  And while tourists must drive a bit further down the road to catch the train these days, they can still stop by the old depot and listen to the whistle of a sturdy locomotive echo from the high bridge, all while enjoying food prepared by hand in historic Georgetown, Colorado.

Special thanks goes to Bob Gibbs who graciously gave of his time for several phone interviews where the majority of this information came from.  He continues to serve on the board of directors for the Georgetown Trust.


The Georgetown Loop: Colorado’s Scenic Wonder  By Gary Morgan.  Published by Centennial Publications. Copyright 1984.

Georgetown and the Loop By P.R. “Bob” Griswold, Richard H. Kindig, and Cynthia Trombly.  Published by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club.  Copyright 1988.

The Denver, South Park & Pacific By M.C. Poor, Published the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club.  Copyright 1949.

Alpinerestaurantgeorgetown.com. Copyright 2014 Alpine Restaurant and Bar, Georgetown, CO.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What? The C&Sng is in Trains Magazine for the 4th time?!

Some sneaky C&S narrow gauge fan must have infiltrated the staff at Trains Magazine.  The November 2017 edition of the world's most popular train publication was the fourth one of this year to contain an article related to the oft-ignored C&S narrow gauge.  This time the focus, in "Preservation Briefs," was on the return of steam to Como.

For the first time in 79 years, steam returned to the Denver, South Park & Pacific station in Como, Colo., as privately owned 2-6-2 No. 4 operated on Aug. 19.  Wasatch Railroad Contractors in Cheyenne, Wyo., rebuilt the 1912 Baldwin-built narrow gauge ex-Klondike Mines Railway (Yukon, Canada) locomotive in time for the rural central Colorado community's 22nd annual Boreas Pass Railroad Day.  The wood 1879 Como depot was last used in 1938.  It, too, is privately owned, and the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway Historical Society has leased the structure for the development of a South Park museum.  Nearby, a turntable has been added to the restored stone roundhouse.  The 3-foot-gauge South Park operated in the central part of Colorado west of Denver, crossing the continental divide twice on its way across Boreas Pass to Breckenridge and across Fremont Pass on the way to Leadville.  Colorado & Southern was a successor, and No. 4 carried a C&S steam whistle.

The article was accompanied by a shot of No. 4 resting next to the Como depot with a red gondola behind it.

This photos is from this Youtube video.

I realized I forgot to post that Trains also had a section on the C&S in their May 2017 magazine.  It reads as follows:

A coalition is bringing a narrow gauge steam locomotive back to tiny Como, Colo., almost 80 years after the last train left.  On Feb. 21, privately owned Klondike Mines 2-6-2 No. 4, a 1912 Baldwin, left Silver Plume, Colo., for Wasatch Railroad Contractors in Cheyenne, Wyo.  The Denver South Park & Pacific Historical Society along with History Colorado, the Como Civic Association, and DSP&P depot and hotel owners are bringing back steam in this village 75 miles southwest of Denver.  No. 4 operated in the Yukon Territory,, Canada, by Klondike Mines, was then sold to the White Pass & Yukon in 1942.  It later ran at theme parks, most recently at Dry Gulch Railroad in Oklahoma.  It was moved to the Georgetown Loop Railroad in Silver Plume in October 2015.  Volunteers plan to relay original South Park trackage abandoned by the last owner, Colorado & Southern, in 1938.  Restored to burn coal, No. 4 could arrive in Como as soon as August for Boreas Pass Days.

Friday, October 13, 2017

5 Remaining C&S Locos: Update 5

As my reading and research continues I want to continually update this article from its original form as published in The Bogies and the Loop.  Updates are in bold and underlined. 

And Then There Were Five:

 The Stories of the Remaining Five C&S Locomotives 

By Kurt Maechner  

          On a cold winter morning in 1975 C&S 71 was hauled up onto a flatbed truck in Central City. The destination was the newly reconstructed portion of the Georgetown Loop route. The engine got away, but much to their surprise, when they tried to move the tender, they were met by a string of Central City residents barring its passage out of town. They gathered in protest like Greenpeace stopping a whaling ship. What is it about these little engines that pulled people out of bed to protect it? Why do we still haggle on internet groups about the fates of these relics of a bygone railroad? Perhaps they each say something about life, even about us. Maybe we can even learn from their stories.

         Five engines remain of the C&S from its roster of 69. Each has an intriguing story of how it outwitted the grim scrapper. These are their stories…and a little about what each says about life.

The Other 64 

    A vast majority of the C&S engines met the scrapper one way or another. 35 of the 69 were scrapped by the C&S itself. 29, though eventually scrapped, were sold or traded to various companies and lumber railroads including Morse Brothers, Hallack & Howard Lumber Company, Manistee & Luther R.R., Clarkson Saw Mill Company, B.G. Peters Salt & Lumber Company, Oak Grove & Georgetown R.R. Co., J.J. White Company, Ed Hines Lumber Company, and the Montrose Lumber Company. A few notable exchanges include C&S 55 that was sold to the Milwaukee Road and operated on their Bellevue & Cascade narrow gauge line. Number 64 was moved to Mexico to run for the Sosa & Garcia Company. Two engines (no. 69 & 70) went to the White Pass & Yukon Route in Alaska. Finally, two of the C&S’ last and largest engines, no. 75 and 76 were eventually purchased, and converted to standard gauge, by the Central Railway of Peru to be used for the Cerro de Pasco Copper Corp. There are several hearsay reports that one of the engines tumbled to the bottom of a canyon due to an unrecorded derailment. 

In 2017 I was contacted by Bob Whetham, author of In Search of the Narrow Gauge.  During
a trip to Peru in 1965 he stumbled upon what he and others believe to be the remains of either C&S 75 or 76 in a scrap yard in Huancayo.  He noted at the time that he "remember[ed] the canted cylinders which were very unusual."  His photo (right) shows the tender in the background and the boiler behind that tender (it is not the engine in the foreground). 

Mike Trent on the DSP&P forum commented, "I would state that I am quite certain, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this is #76's tender. I have spent quite a bit of time comparing this image to others of #76. This had a distinctive rivet pattern, and it seems to fit, right down to the bunker sides.  It seems likely that the boiler in the back is one of the two. The only other photo I have ever seen shows a boiler complete with piston valves with the steam dome cover removed in what appears to be a different location than this one. The boilers would be harder to distinguish....But I'm going to get on board that this is #76's tender."

Presumably, it was eventually scrapped completely at a later date.

     And then there were five.

71: All Roads Lead to Home  

       Do all roads really lead to Rome? In real life, all roads lead to home. In all its small positive and negative nuances, our home affects us more than any other influence in life. Whether we love it or have run from it, it must be reckoned with. One C&S loco was adopted by a town, and despite unsuccessful efforts to remove it, and successful efforts to abuse it, it remains affectionately at its adopted home.

       When the railroad finally received permission to abandon the South Park in 1937, the C&S, finding no buyers in 1938 for their surplus locomotives, began the process of scrapping them.  This began in 1938 with No. 5 and one month later consumed 65 and 58.  

     There was an attempt at saving at least one engine for posterity.  The railroad made an offer to any town along its line: A free narrow gauge locomotive to stuff and mount. This would have been engine 6.  Despite the number of people who protested the abandonment of the line, not a single town along its remaining rails took them up on the offer.  A memo to the Superintendent of Motive Power stated that "the scrapping of 6 narrow gauge engines, one of which we asked you to hold up anticipating that we could use the engine for historical purposes.  We now find that none of the towns is agreeable to accepting this engine.  You may therefore scrap engine 6."

     However, by 1941, one town (and eventually Idaho Springs), Central City, who had lost its railroad connection 10 years earlier, changed its mind and said yes. Engine 71, that had the unfortunate privilege of being used on many scrapping operations on the line, was chosen. Along with gondola 4319 and combination car 20, it was taken to the end of track at Black Hawk in April of 1941. It was then hauled by truck and found a home on exhibit near the site of the Central City depot.

     There it would remain for a little over 45 years.

   She did receive some attention over the years.  During the 1950's or 1960's, the CB&Q sent someone along to spiff up the paint and, in the process, added the Burlington herald to the whole train.  A fence was also added to keep vandals out.  Rick Steele comments in the Narrow Gauge Forum that he scraped and repainted the engine and No. 20 back to the original C&S markings in 1970.

       Puffs of steam would return to the air in Central City, however, in 1968 as the Colorado Central Narrow Gauge tourist railroad laid track to Packard Gulch. They ran trains with two Central American locomotives. This group, along with the locos and rolling stock, eventually moved to take over operation of trains on the Georgetown Loop project in 1973. The Colorado Historical Society (CHS), who owned the track, had the idea of also taking 71 to Silver Plume to restore it and run it on the Loop. The engine was indeed taken to Silver Plume which lead to much consternation in Central City. A town newspaper referred to the situation as the “Great Train Robbery.” When the CHS then tried to move the tender, this is when some city residents came out to stop it. Their town had requested the locomotive and they wanted to keep it. Following this incident, the engine was promptly returned home.


     Steam rose again from the bear trap stack of 71 from 1987 to 1990. Another organization stepped in to run the Central City line, this time named The Blackhawk and Central City Narrow Gauge Railroad. They had their eye on 71. There is a lot of discussion on the efficacy of the running of the locomotive in these years. That being said, she did live again, if even for a brief moment of relived
history. The group certainly had big goals. A tourist guide from 1988 states the railroad as planning “to reach Blackhawk in the next five years.” This, unfortunately, was not to happen. The railroad folded and 71 sat again, still, with her gondola and combine until she was moved once again. 
  The Narrow Gauge Discussion forum states that at some point the land where the train had previously been displayed was sold, and so the train, minus the gondola, was transferred to the Couer d'Alene Mine on the opposite side of the valley in the early 1990s.  By 1996 a chain link fence had been erected around the engine .

Casinos came to the City of Central in 1991 and she was eventually placed high up with the combine on a display track by Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Casino. The gondola sits in a park near Eureka Street. There’s much consternation over her most recent appointment, but, let’s face it, she’s at least at home.

74: Being left behind may be a part of the plan 

     We are all prone to asking, “What might have happened if…” Regret and longing make us wonder if we had not been left behind by some person, job, or opportunity, would we have found what we really wanted? Then again, maybe being left behind was part of the plan, a far greater plan than our own. 74 may have wondered this as it sat lonely at Morse Bros. Machinery in 1948.

     World War II either saved or destroyed many an engine. Many of the unemployed locos were scrapped for the war effort. Others were used where needed. C&S 74 had the privilege of working with two sister engines on the last remaining narrow gauge portion of the railroad between Leadville and Climax. Molybdenum was a hot commodity in the war effort and Climax had a lot. So much, in fact, that they needed to standard gauge the line, which they did in 1943. Numbers 74, 75, and 76 were then placed on flatcars and shipped to Denver. They were sold to Morse Bros. Machinery and sat on their property for three years. That’s when a Peruvian railroad came looking for some narrow gauge motive power. They took 75 and 76. 74 was left behind to wallow away alone. Left behind.

     Two years later, though, another life awaited 74. In 1948, the Rio Grande Southern was wheezing out its last breaths. The Galloping Geese had bought it a few more years, but the light was fading. The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club knew their chance to see and ride the line was dwindling. They wanted to plan as many excursions as possible. When the club approached the RGS receiver about this, he remarked that it was too costly to lease a D&RGW engine to haul their trains. The Club countered by suggesting that they buy a locomotive. For whatever reason, they took the bait and purchased 74.

     One member of that railroad club was a man named Dr. John B. Schoolland. He was very interested in the Colorado & Northwestern Railroad which ran through his resident town of Boulder and discovered that 74 had started its career on that very railroad. Recognizing that the RGS was near its terminus, he set out to save the engine so it could be displayed in Boulder. The city’s community started various fundraisers that eventually ‘bought’ 74 and had her shipped via rail. 74 returned home in August of 1952 and was placed in Central Park along with a D&RGW coach and RGS caboose.

  The years were not kind as neglect and vandalism set in. Various community members and students worked to touch up the engine off and on. Unfortunately, the RGS caboose was destroyed via a student prank using dynamite and was replaced with a Rio Grande caboose. In 1979 the Boulder Model Railroad Club committed to taking care of the site. 

74 and her train were eventually moved a bit to a new curved track.  Mike Trent on the Rio Grande Southern Technical Page wrote, "In February 1982, the train was moved about 40 feet north of its original location to allow improvements to be made in the park and because the track under the train had deteriorated badly. Almost all ties under the engine were completely rotted away, and the weight of the locomotive had caused her to settle about three to four inches. The BMRC volunteers were called upon to help, and they did, in a big way. Rail was located and donated with the help of the Georgetown Loop Railroad and State Historical Society. The City of Boulder bought brand new ties, and the volunteers, along with some willing professional help, laid a curved section of track for the train's new home. Dr. Schoolland was present to help drive the 'Golden Spike.'"  For a few months after the move the engine was dressed up in C&S livery and even sported a fabricated Bear Trap stack before being returned to is original look as C&N #30.

In the early 2000s the Colorado Historical Society shipped it to a company to see if the engine could be restored for use on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. This was decided against, but 74 was cosmetically restored by the West Side Locomotive Company of Denver and returned to Boulder.  In 2012, she was leased to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden where she resides today.  Who could have guessed that being left behind in 1948 would have saved her for our enjoyment today?

9: Sometimes reinventing yourself opens new doors.  

     Most of us like to stay on the rails marked out for us. With change comes friction and we like to avoid it at all costs. But complacency can also destroy us. Some of us learn that to find life anew we must reinvent ourselves in some way: physically, occupationally, or spiritually. Sometimes that reinvention comes whether we like it or not. This is the story of little number 9, a mogul that has lived more lives than any other C&S engine.

     If ever there was controversy surrounding a C&S locomotive, number 9 takes the cake. Built by Cooke in 1884, the loco started out on the South Park Line. She had the honor of pulling the last scheduled passenger train from Denver to Leadville in 1937. She spent two more years on the Clear Creek line and South Platte branch, but an opportunity in 1939 put the engine out of the scrapper’s hand. From 1939 to 1940 New York hosted the World’s Fair. Many railroads sent representative trains. The Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy, which now owned the C&S, planned on sending one of their Cooke moguls as a narrow gauge representative.  Engines 5, 6, 8, or 9 were the options.  They settled on No. 6, leaving the others to be scrapped.  However, according to Narrow Gauge to Central and Silver Plume, "the suggestion was made that the 9 was in better shape and might well be used instead--which was in fact done."

   According to The Mineral Belt Vol. 2, "C&S 2-6-0 Number 9, Railway express and RPO car 13, and coach 76 were put on exhibit in Denver before being moved to the New York World's Fair in 1939.  Number 9 had just been run through the backshop and coaches were resplendent in new paint.  The 2-6-0 was the only engine of this wheel arrangement saved from scrapping."

     Evading the torch by inches, number 9 then was sent along with her two cars to the World's Fair. CB&Q then kept the little train in storage at their Aurora, Illinois shops until 1948 when Chicago held its railroad fair. The engine and her coaches were leased to the fair to be run as a quaint old time western train. Painted for the defunct Deadwood Central (which, incidentally, according to The Mineral Belt Vol. 1 was the railroad from which CB&Q 537 came from), labeled “Chief Crazy Horse”, and sporting a hack false balloon stack, the engine chugged around a small track pulling visitors.
     She was again stored until leased in 1957 by the tourist hauler Black Hills Central in South Dakota. The line simply put the engine on display. I have read in a few spots that some believe the engine was pulled
behind another engine and made to look operational by burning tires in the boiler.

     Twenty-four years later, in 1981, the Colorado & Southern was finally absorbed into the Burlington Northern and the controversy began. By 1986 BN and the Black Hills Central entered a legal fight over the ownership of the mogul. The end result was that BN decided to send it home by giving it to the Colorado Historical Society. They had it stored on Morningstar siding near Silver Plume on the Georgetown Loop RR. It was relettered on one side in alignment with C&S days, though it still retained a red cab for some time. Its greatest surprise was yet to come.

     When the CHS, who owned the GLRR trackage, and the folks who owned and operated the railroad  reached an impasse in negotiations, a major debacle resulted. The end result was that the operator took all of the rolling stock and locos off the property and moved or donated them elsewhere. Still wanting to operate the railroad, the CHS, hunted for a new operator. However, they had no locomotives…except number 9. Both 74 and 9 were shipped away to check the feasibility of restoring one of them to operation. It was determined that number 9, using 74’s tender would be the best bet. In 2006 Uhrich Locomotive Works completed work on number 9 and sent her back to the Loop. It was an exciting day, yet, retained a bitter end.

     There was already an uproar over the changing of GLRR operators, but the furor was somewhat tempered by the excitement of seeing a real C&S loco run again. When number 9 was pulled out of service due to mechanical problems before the end of the season in 2006, many people’s anger erupted. Regardless of opinions on all sides of the issue, number 9 was traded to the town of Breckenridge. They had an old Sundown and Southern locomotive at their Rotary Snowplow Park. This engine seems to have more promise to have the power to pull trains on the Loop and is being refurbished.
     The trade originally required that number 9 had to be operated. There were plans to build a short section of track in Breckenridge and run the loco off of compressed air. This has all changed and, after an impressive cosmetic makeover at Mammoth Locomotive Works, the engine was put on display in December 2010 between a rotary and a C&S boxcar at what is called Rotary Snowplow Park. Reinvented once again.

31: Age Matters 

     Popular culture (read: those trying to make money) bombard us with a belief that whatever is young and new is better. It wasn’t that long ago, however, when age was venerated, when being older made your opinion and insight valuable to others. Today, it seems, all it takes is being young, trendy, and having the ability make a hit song. C&S 31 comes from the former era and it holds a title: the oldest locomotive in Colorado; and that counts for something.

     While this consolidation doesn’t seem to have quite as storied of a process as the others, it bears learning
nonetheless. C&S 31, built in 1880, began its career as number 191 on the South Park Line. It later joined the Denver, Leadville, & Gunnison and finally the C&S as number 31. It served for 22 years on those lines until it was sold for $2000 in April 1899, a year after the creation of the C&S, to the Edward Hines Lumber Company in Wisconsin and run as Washburn & Northwestern #7. In 1905 it was sold to the Robbins Lumber Co. in Rhinelander, which was bought in 1919 by the Thunder Lake Lumber Co. As a side note, one source said that the cautious owner of the line thought it was too heavy to be used unless the ground was frozen. In 1932 it was retired and placed on display at the Rhinelander Log Museum in Wisconsin. It remained there for a little over four decades.

     Finally, in 1973, through the efforts of the Colorado Railroad Museum, the engine was moved back home. She was restored to her appearance as DL&G 191 and is believed to be the oldest surviving locomotive in the state at over 130 years old. In 2009 191 received an entire cosmetic make-over and has been proudly displayed on numerous publicity materials related to the museum. For at least a few of us, yes, age matters.

 60: Stay ready for work 'til the end.  

     For those who relish the goal to eat, drink, and be merry, life’s twilight years hold little promise. But for those who believe their lives hold a greater purpose, one that outshines occupation, we want to stay ready for work, whatever divine work this might be.  One of the five C&S survivors did just that.

     C&S 60 began her life on the Utah & Northern in 1886. She eventually joined the DL&G and ultimately the Colorado & Southern. A story concerning her latter days suggests that the engine was being used to scrap the remainder of the Clear Creek line in 1941 when, well, she just broke down in the town of Idaho Springs where the loco was subsequently donated to the city for display.  

     The "break down" story, however, is likely a myth.  The Colorado & Southern Railway Society, a historical preservation group that has taken on the mantel of caring for No. 60 and her coach, have studied the engine's service records at the Colorado Railroad Museum and there found evidence to discredit such a story.  

     Their research reports, "The C&S mileage records for 60 show she received a complete overhaul in April of 1936. She ran for a year till mid 1937 when she was stored serviceable in Leadville from mid 1937-January 1939.  The records contain monthly inspection sheets filled out for every month of her layup and which state she was stored serviceable in Leadville."

     There the diminutive consolidation lived out her remaining years ready to do the work she was born to do.  In fact, she had the chance to do just that one more time when in the early winter of 1939 she again plied the rails for 6 months.  She was stored again in June, but this time, as she awaited another fire in her belly, the mileage record demonstrates that it was not to happen again.

     The C&S Ry. Society, consequently concludes that "all of our research seems to support that the idea of the breakdown is a myth."  They theorize that "the story of the 'breakdown' seems to come from having one of her eccentric links disconnected.  We haven't determined why that is or when it was done.  However, from the records, and from physical inspection this far, 60 appears to be in excellent mechanical condition with only mild wear from her service time."

     When the Clear Creek lines were abandoned in 1941, as mentioned in the story of No. 71, towns were offered a locomotive for display purposes, and Idaho Springs stepped up.  There is a bit of a complication in this gift, though.  Apparently, Clear Creek County argued, as long ago as 1936, that the railway had not paid a tax debt.  In 1941 the county accepted the locomotive as a settlement for this dispute.  Curiously, the town specified in the agreement that they wanted No. 60 to wear a snowplow.

     No. 60 then traveled to the Burlington Route's shops in Aurora, Illinois to be readied for display.  She was shipped back by flat car and was shoved along with coach 70 by engine 69 to the town.  The engine and her small train were on display on the old right of way in front of a gift shop for many years.  Some have referenced that the gift shop owner sometimes burned old tires in the boiler to simulate steam in order to garner customers.

   As in the case of engine 71 in Central City, it appears that the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad sent a crew to spiff up the engines in the 1950s or 1960s and consequently repainted the engine with the Burlington herald on the tender and "C&S" under a smaller engine number on the cab.  When the paint scheme was returned to the original, as it is today, is unclear.

     Using temporary track early in the '80s the train was moved forward into what is now Harold A. Anderson Park.  This is where she is today.  At some point the old Idaho Springs school house was moved next the train and converted to the town hall.  In the summer of 2015 the C&S Ry. Society completely needle scaled and repainted 60's smokebox with a graphite based paint mix to reflect its appearance while in operation.  They also added coal boards to the tender.

     In recent years number 60 also was taken into consideration for operation on the Georgetown Loop. This was decided against, of course, but the consolidation still sits proudly on the track ready to do the work she did so long ago.

     History has led these five locomotives down a trail as serpentine as the grades they once climbed. Where will history take us? It might, like 71, take us back where we came from. We might find ourselves left behind like 74, but it could turn out better than we expect. Maybe we’ll find ourselves in a situation that requires us to reinvent ourselves like number 9. For those of us who’ve earned our keep, we may need to remember that age matters like C&S 31. Yet, no matter what life brings our way, no matter when we might finally drop off the serviceable list like number 60, there’s a calling to keep doing the work we were created to do until we change trains at that great Union Depot that awaits us all.


Bodiecalifornia.  (2010, 29 Nov.). C&S 9 – Where Is It Now?  Message posted to http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read.php?1,174896.

(n.d.) C&S Narrow Gauge Locomotive Data Retrieved from http://narrowgauge.homestead.com/.

“Central City’s Colorado & Southern Railroad.” (1990, Summer). Colorado Yesterday & Today: A Magazine of Adventures, 13.

"Colorado & Northwestern #30" RGUSRAIL. Retrieved from http://www.rgusrail.com/cocrm.html

Colorado Steam. (1999-2010). Retrieved from http://www.steamlocomotive.com/colorado/.

Correspondence with the Colorado & Southern Railway Society via their Facebook page.  

Fritz, B. (2001). Surviving Steam Locomotives in Colorado.  Retrieved from http://wasteam.railfan.net/.

Griswold, P.R., Kindig, R.H., & Trombly, C. (1988). Georgetown and the Loop.  Denver: The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club.

Griswold, P.R. (1988). Railroads of Colorado: Colorado Traveler Guidebooks.  Frederick: Renaissance House Publication.

--> A Guide to the Exhibits at the Colorado Railroad Museum.  (2011). Retrieved from   www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org.

Hauck, Cornelius W.  Narrow Gauge to Central and Silver Plume.  Colorado Rail Annual no. 10. Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden 1972. 

History. (2011). Retrieved from www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org.

Jensen, Robert, F. Hol Wagner Jr., and Robert LaMassena. "Denver, Leadville, and Gunnison 2-8-0 No. 191." Colorado Railroad Museum Equipment Data Sheet No. 15.  Colorado Railroad Museum, 2010.  

Larson, Kurt.  "Washburn Northwestern Railroad." www.battleaxcamp.tripod.com. 2008.

Loop Communication Committee.  (2005, 27 April).  Meeting Minutes. Retrieved from www.savethetrain.org. 

Midyette, Jason. (2014). Colorado & Southern No. 9: One Short Season. The Ill-Fated Return to Service of a Narrow Gauge Locomotive. South Platte Press.

Digerness, David S. (1977).  The Mineral Belt Vol. 1 Old South Park - Denver to Leadville - An Illustrated History, Featuring the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad, and the Gold-and-Silver Mining Industry. Sundance Books.

Digerness, David S. (1978).  The Mineral Belt Vol. 2 - Old South Park - Across the Great Divide.  Sundance Books.

Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum

National & State Registers. (1999-2010). Retrieved from www.ColoradoHistory.org. 

Pictorial Supplement to Denver South Park & Pacific: Abridged Edition.  (1986). Lakewood: Trowbridge Press.

Poor, M.C. (1976). Denver South Park & Pacific: Memorial Edition.  Denver: Rocky Mountain Railroad Club.

Rhinelander Logging Museum Complex. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.rhinelanderchamber.com/.

Ross, D. (2009). Colorado & Southern RR Steam Locomotives.  Retrieved from http://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/.

Ross, D. (2009). Thunder Lake Lumber Co. Robbins RR.  Retrieved from http://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/.

Schoppe, B. (2011, January). Greetings from the President. The Bogies and The Loop, 22.

Shreiner, T. (2009, 20 July). C&S 71 Video.  Message posted to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DenverSouthPark/. 

Trent, M. (2011). Engine No. 74 – Back Home Again (1952-present). Retrieved from http://www.riograndesouthern.com/RGSTechPages/_bdwhite/index.htm Page.

Trent, M. (2011). Engine No. 74 – The Colorado & Southern Years (1921-1945). Retrieved from http://www.riograndesouthern.com/RGSTechPages/_bdwhite/index.htm Page.

Trent, M. (2011). Engine No. 74 – The Rio Grande Southern Years (1948-1952). Retrieved from http://www.riograndesouthern.com/RGSTechPages/_bdwhite/index.htm Page.

Trent, Mike (2017).  "Possible Photo of C&S 75 or 76 in 1965." Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad Forum. Retrieved from https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DSP-P/conversations/topics/19725 

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Argentine Pass Then and Now

The always fantastic Then and Now, Images of Colorado and the West posted this before and after of the end-of-track of the Argentine Central.  Notice the Colorado and Southern excursion coaches behind the Shay locomotive.  Also, it is interesting to note the old wagon? trails that still remain.  The photo was taken by Christi Couch.

One of the comments on the Then and Now page also shed some interesting background:

"The Argentine Central is a wonderful bit of Colorado Mining history. A short distance from Denver. 

"The only train that didn't run on Sunday as Wilcox, original owner was a preacher (on top of his mining interest). The railroad claimed to be the highest in the US, with it's extension to McClellan Mt. 2nd owners had grand plans for that portion to continue to Gray's and Toreys. Where a Hotel and a grand spotlight would be built. A survey was all that was done with that idea.

"A fun hike is to follow the old grade from Silverplume. Can hike it all the way to Pavilion Point. A hotel was built here we're riders could stop for the night. Later in the days of the Argentine Central. As you hike, you can here the Georgetown Loop whistling down in the valley. Shay #9 working away.

Argentine Pass, as the Leavenworth Valley is known today, is adopted by the Rising Sun 4x4 club. Lots of fun outings with the Clear Creek Ranger District, cleaning the trail and learning about it's awesome history!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What's the news on the palisades?

Many now know about the damage done to the Palisades by a rock fall this year, as well as another slide further downgrade, but what is being done about it.  Well, from my recent reading on the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum...nothing.

As far as I can make out from the back and forth on the forum, the Forest Service, which owns the land, has experienced cuts in funding and also is funneling their budget towards forest fires and other more pressing concerns.

Sadly, in the meantime, that seems to mean that no repair work is in the wings and no automobiles are able to reach West Portal for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, there are a lot of exciting C&S restoration efforts in full swing around Colorado.  Since my first love in railroading is the Alpine Tunnel, though, I hope that the restoration fever can swing down towards Altman Pass too.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

C&S 60 in the news

CBS Denver has a story on C&S 60 and the C&S Ry. Society's plans for her.  Check it out below:

Here is the article on CBS Denver's website that accompanied the video.

Group Wants To Get 131-Year-Old Locomotive Up And Running

By Dominic Garcia

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A group of train enthusiasts is looking to restore a 131-year-old train that has deep Colorado ties. The old steam Locomotive 60 was built in 1886 and ran on the Colorado & Southern Railway. It traveled all over the state but spent most of its life traveling between Denver and Leadville.

In 1941 it was donated to Clear Creek County and has sat near the Idaho Springs city council building ever since.

“She’s seen a lot of Colorado,” said Benjamin Fearn, Vice President of the Colorado & Southern Railway Society.

His group wants to restore the locomotive to full working condition and is currently working to secure grants for the project that will cost between $300,000 and $500,000.

We believe the highest state of preservation is operational condition because it represents the artifact in its proper context…she is a relic, and she’s very important the way she sits. But you don’t get a sense of what it really is because it’s not alive,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

When it was in its prime, Locomotive 60 traveled to places like South Park and Boreas Pass, and it was even part of the snowplow trials at Hancock in 1890.

“She probably did, from the records we’ve seen, on average about 50,000 miles a year. She’s seen a lot of places she’s seen a lot of Colorado,” said Fearn.

His group needs to first evaluate the locomotive’s boiler. The next step will be asbestos removal and after that the rest is mostly cosmetic. They not only want to restore the locomotive, but the passenger car on display behind it built in 1986. It’s lined with spacious, cushy seats and it even has two bathrooms on board.

“For those of us who do this there’s no greater thrill than seeing one of these things come to life and do what they were meant to do,” Fearn said.

The group needs to now renew their contract with Idaho Springs and then they can get the plans in motion to have the locomotive moved to a site for restoration. It will then be returned to Idaho Springs.

Dominic Garcia anchors CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. Connect with the Denver native on Twitter @cbs4dom & on Facebook.