Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sherrod Loop 2018 video

When the DSP&P/C&S right-of-way from Pitkin to the west portal of Alpine Tunnel was converted for auto traffic, they bypassed the Sherrod Loop (or Curve) leaving the grade undisturbed all these years.   Some time ago, the United States Forest Service laid some track on the beginning, straight segment of the curve.  I think this must have been started either some time in the 1990s or early 2000s.  When I was at Sherrod in 2003 some of the rails were not yet spiked down.

The first stretch of the videos was shot with a GoPro mounted on our ATV as we travel from the site of Woodstock to the start of Sherrod Loop.  I wish I could have gotten aerial shots of the location with the drone I brought, but time limitations with our rental made this unfeasible.  Instead I took screen videos of Google Earth traversing the loop's terrain.  At the end, I walk the relaid track.  Pardon the bounce as I was using a traditional camera.  Should've used the GoPro!  Hindsight :)

Balloon Loops

It is easy to forget that the concept of the balloon loop (or switchback, though not in the traditional railroad sense) was an engineering innovation in scaling mountains.  It involved the concept of a route doubling back on itself, thereby gaining more distance in which to continue to gain more elevation.  Sherrod Loop allowed the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad (later, Colorado & Southern Railway) to gain elevation on its way to the Alpine Tunnel in Colorado.  After going upgrade along the mountain for many miles, passing Alpine Pass, the railroad makes a sharp turn, completely reversing it's direction, allowing it to continue the climb higher and higher to the summit and tunnel.

A Water Tank at Sherrod?

I was not aware that there was a water tank at Sherrod, but on the narrow gauge discussion forum it was pointed out that Colorado Rail Annual #31 says:
Sherrod MP 163.8
A wooden tank, 16' x 12', was constructed in 1898. Water was gravity-fed from a spring higher up the mountain.
One person posted this photo of what he surmised to be the base of this tank:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Why wasn't Klondike Kate labeled for the C&S?

I love the DSP&P and have an affinity towards it.  Yet, the Colorado & Southern holds a particular spot in my esteem.  Maybe it's because I most enjoy the twilight era of the road when dirty C&S engines with ridgeway stacks rumbled along on trackage desperately in need of maintenance.

So, when Klondike Kate, the restored locomotive now in use in Como, was lettered this summer, I assumed she would carry classic C&S markings.  I was surprised, then, to see photos of her tender marked "DSP&P" and carrying the number "4."  I was not disappointed, mind you.  An operating locomotive in Como is a sight I never thought to behold in 2018!  Still, I was a little puzzled that the C&S name was passed up.

Photo 2018 Kurt Maechner

Then I happened on a discussion that held the answer for the lettering choice.  Apparently, "Colorado & Southern", as a corporate name is "still owned and registered" thereby taking it out of the running for an official name for the new railway.  The Leadville tourist route, by comparison, got around this by adding the "Leadville" to their Leadville, Colorado & Southern railroad.

The name "Denver, South Park & Pacific," however, is not owned or registered and so was available.  Jerry Huck explains, "When the South Park Rail Society was initially formed, we realized that we would need an operating name for the railroad. As Stewart said, Colorado and Southern was not available in any form however Denver South Park and Pacific was available as the Denver South Park and Pacific Railway company. Which is the registered official name of the new railroad in Como so there is some legitimacy for #4 to carry that lettering."

And, quite honestly, it makes a lot of sense for a locomotive inside South Park itself to carry a name that enshrined the "SP" in the center of its title.

As relates to her number, several others on the forum pointed out that the DSP&P had a few locomotives recorded as #4.  One was the mason bogie named the "Breckenridge."  Another named loco, the "Fairplay," was also numbered 4.

All in all, while I'd love to see "Colorado & Southern" gracing the side of a locomotive tender in Como, I'm still delighted to see the DSP&P rising from the ashes and steaming to work from her stone stable once again.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Riding the C&S grade through Pitkin, Colorado 2018

This is a mixture of photos and video of Pitkin, Colorado from 2018 alongside early 1900's photos.  Pitkin, founded in 1879 was the first mining camp to the west of the Continental Divide.  The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad tunneled through the Divide in the early 1880s, eventually traveling straight through the center of Pitkin, where extensive railroad facilities existed to feed and service hungry engines after surviving the mountain trek on their way to Gunnison or preparing for their assault on the range on their way to Denver.  Eventually, the DSP&P would become the Colorado & Southern Railway.

The C&S would abandon the tunnel in 1910 leaving Pitkin stranded from rail service.  Trackage from Gunnison in the west to Pitkin would be given to the Denver & Rio Grande who operated the stub line into the 1930s before finally pulling the rails.

Photos 1 & 2: H.L. Curtiss Photo - James Ehrenberger Collection
Photo 3: Pitkin Historical and Community Association
Map: C&S 1918 ICC Valuation Map - Colorado Railroad Museum
All the above from: Tom and Denise Klinger's South Park's Gunnison Division Memories & Then Some, 2012

Railroad audio is from: Sounds of Steam Locomotives No. 3: Colorado Narrow Gauge Stack Music. "Three Little Engines and 33 Cars."