Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Alpine Tunnel Station and Boarding House Video

I put together a video with a focus on the telegraph office/station and two-story boarding house at the West Portal of Alpine Tunnel.  The video shows the changes over the years from operation to abandonment and decay to restoration.

I also show the inside of the present restored telegraph office.

My footage comes from our 2018 trip to the tunnel.  We rented ATVs, but due to the closure of the right-of-way just past Sherrod Loop we had to walk to the station complex.  We headed up grade for quite a while.  At one point, though, because we had a time limit on our ATV rental, I figured there was no way we could all reach the tunnel in time.  I decided to turn around, but my 10 year old egged me on to have the two of us give it a try.  So we left the rest of the family a little past the Palisades and hustled in the thin mountain air.  We never made it to the tunnel itself, but did get to the station area.  I'm thankful for my adventurous daughter who pushed me on!


Friday, April 10, 2020

Alpine Tunnel and Alpine Pass by Drone

When I posted a video of the Alpine Tunnel engine house I included some drone footage filmed by David Moore who graciously allowed me to use the remaining footage that he had not already posted.  Many enjoyed the footage and at least one person asked if Dave had flown his drone over the pass from West Portal to East Portal.  Indeed he had.

This video includes the footage from that segment.  I included a few titles to designate important points of interest (such as the summit of the pass, Mount Poor, and various railroad remains) and put a couple before and after shots of the line during operation.

I can't get over the majesty of the area every time I look at Dave's footage.  I also can't get over the bravery (or foolishness-not sure!) of those who surveyed and built a railroad line over such treacherous terrain.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

C&S 74 video 1952 on the RGS

C&S 74 served many railroads.  It first ran on the Colorado & Northwestern which then became the Denver, Boulder and Western.  After the demise of this line out of Boulder, the C&S purchased her along with two other sisters and they became C&S 74, 75, and 76.

After the close of narrow gauge operations in 1943 she went to Morse Bros. Machinery.  Eventually the Rio Grande Southern purchased her in 1948.  She led two Rocky Mountain Railroad Club excursions, the last of which was in 1951, one year before the RGS shut down.

The video below includes lots of color footage and live audio of both the 1949 and 1951 excursions.  The second was the final excursion of passengers on the line.  Many will enjoy the footage of the Rio Grande Southern and interviews with the likes of such friends of the C&S as Richard Kindig, Robert Richardson, and Jack Thode, but if you want to cut to the C&S 74 part, go to 1:13:59.

It's truly a delight to hear former C&S 74 work hard in the Rocky Mountains at the tail end of her active career.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mysteries of Alpine-part 4, Tunnel entrances-sealed or blown up?

A common device used by mystery writers is the use of the red herring.  It’s a false trail that distracts the reader and the sleuth from the real evidence.
Interior of Alpine Tunnel-source unknown

As stubborn webs cling to old timbers of the Alpine Tunnel so do red herrings cling to the web called the internet.

Throughout the years, as I have snooped around various websites that reference the tunnel, odd comments arise like the following: “The tunnel caved in from years of erosion.”

Other sites state “the tunnel has been sealed off for safety reasons.”  Even Wikipedia, in its opening paragraph on the tunnel, refers to it as “sealed shut.”

It gets stranger from there as talk of explosives creep up.  According to one jeep club, the “tunnel was closed (the entrances blown up) years ago.”  Another site states, "The entrance to the Tunnel was sealed with dynamite many years ago.”

West Portal 1989-Author's Collection
Did the forest service do this?  They may have had reason to consider it.  There was a time when visitors inside the crumbling tunnel were common.  One visitor to the tunnel in the 1970s remarked that there were up to 25 people inside “including some biker types” when he ventured within.  There was enough concern that rumors spread that the county was going to clear out the debris leading to the west portal and install a gate to keep people out.  So, did they resort to blowing it up?

Thankfully, Ray Rossman set the record straight.  He commented, “There has not been any action using any explosives to seal the tunnel.  All the closure action has been that of mother nature and the slow decay of the granite.  The only action I have
authorized was placing a rather large boulder to prevent entry into the western portal.”

The real culprit in the end, then, is Mother Nature.  Unfortunately, she may be doing more damage than the supposed dynamite might have.

In a later correspondence he remarked, “I have been monitoring the west portal closely and we continue to slowly lose the battle there….During the winter of 2002/2003 it appears that a portion of the tunnel on the western side collapsed.  The natural repose of the tallas debris now goes straight back for about 20' right behind where the upper portion of the stone portal is located.  Very
disheartening.  For those lucky few to have seen the interior, I think they have glimpsed at a piece of history perhaps now gone from our view.”

Alas, the plot thickens, but at least the red herring-colored dynamite can be thrown back into the sea.

Author at East Portal 1991

Below are various websites with wacky statements about what "happened" to the tunnel:

Says west portal collapsed
Says west portal caved in
Covered by landslides:
Tunnel has been sealed
Tunnel has been sealed.
West sealed BECAUSE East Portal collapsed in 1992
Tunnel sealed by a cave in & plans to open part of tunnel
question about forest service blowing it up.
both sides blown up “tunnel was closed (the entrances blown up) years ago"

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Alpine Tunnel interior shot

I wish I had a little background on this photo, but I just happened on it somehow on a Facebook page belonging to Jack Sanderson.  It's a stunning post-abandonment shot of the interior of Alpine Tunnel looking toward what appears to be one of the cave-ins with the original South Park rails above water and looking ready to take on an eastbound train of Gunnison coal.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

51 Year Expedition of 3 C&S passenger cars - video

While C&S 9 has had a fascinating journey, the three C&S passenger cars inextricably tied to it have had an equally curious expedition.  This video explores the cars' lives from the end of the C&S narrow gauge, their travels to three other states*, and their return to Colorado.

*While the Silver Plume informational sign for Business Car 911 claims that it went to the 1939 New York World's Fair, no photo evidence of this has come to light as far as I know.

Other sources argue that it did not join 13 and 76 at the World's Fair, but did participate in the 1948-1949 Chicago Rail Fair.  The research on this site states: "Car #911 was almost scrapped in 1938, but the cost to cut it up would have been $30, while the cost to burn it and then cut up the remaining scrap would have been $20. The low price of scrap was all that saved it. It was stored in Denver for awhile, then sometime in the mid '40s was moved to the CB&Q shops in Aurora, Illinois, where it joined coach #76, RPO #13 and 2-6-0 #9, which had been exhibited at the New York World’s Fair in 1939."

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Five Remaining C&S Locos - Update 7

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.   Thanks to recent research and correspondence with others in the know, this update includes new details related to C&S 71 and C&S 60 

And Then There Were Five:

 The Stories of the Remaining Five C&S Locomotives 

By Kurt Maechner  

          On a cold winter morning in 1986 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, though it had to fight the management of the Burlington Route (now owner of the C&S) for many months to get it at this point.  By this time the Q didn't want to give away any assets, even if it was scrap value. 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 in 1986 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...sort of.

   For reasons I have yet to determine, around this time, instead of returning the engine to its display site in Central City, it was placed on display, along with the rest of its train, on a new stretch of rail in Black Hawk.  During the winter of 1987, a trucker by the name of Steve Clifford, who related his story in The Bogies and the Loop, happened to pass through Black Hawk when he noticed "a flimsy make-shift shed constructed over locomotive No. 71 and its tender."  This chance encounter led him to find out just what was going on (and also to him receiving a bid to transport the train on his truck back to Central City).


     Something was indeed going on.  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, and No. 71 was their star. 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 Grand Z Casino and Hotel. 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 its 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.

     C&S 31's story is not as storied as her other surviving companions, but it contains its curiosities just as well.  In the words of Jason Midyette who chronicled her story in The Bogies and the Loop, her "survival was more a result of random chance than any actual plan; had the C&S kept it, it would have been rebuilt and modernized (and ultimately scrapped) and had the locomotive been in better shape, it might not have been set aside for display in 1932."  

    Built in 1880, C&S 31 began its career as number 51 on the South Park Line. It later joined the Denver, Leadville, & Gunnison as 191 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 (or 1902-sources vary), 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. Midyette states that "By 1932, No. 191 was completely worn out and seldom used."  It was retired that year and placed on display at the Rhinelander Logging Museum in Wisconsin, moving there under its own power for the last time. It remained there for a little over four decades.

    The locomotive's time at Rhinelander was not kind.  The museum at the time pursued a philosophy that the more access the public has to history, the more likely they are to feel connected to it.  Consequently, the engine was fully accessible and climbable.  As a result, many parts went missing and the loco's condition diminished.
    Finally, in February 1973, through the efforts of Bob Richardson of the Colorado Railroad Museum, the engine was moved back home. Richardson found that a Mexican railroad that owned an original Thunder Lake engine was closing down.  He convinced the Rhinelander Museum to accept his offer that if he could get this engine to them, they would give him No. 31.

   Now back in her home state she was restored to her appearance as DL&G 191, including cutting back her smokebox to its length while on the South Park.  One very unique aspect of 51/191/31 is that, as stated in The Bogies and the Loop,
 she "received little in the way of updates and has remained a remarkably original example of an 1880's narrow gauge freight locomotive."  In addition to its authenticity, it is believed to be the oldest surviving locomotive in the state at over 130 years old. In 2009 the engine received an entire cosmetic make-over at CRRM 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."

     In 1938 the C&S offered towns along its line a locomotive for display purposes.  No one took the bait.  Yet, a 1941 article in the Clear Creek Mining Journal calls No. 60 in Idaho Springs a "gift."  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.

     On Tuesday, May 13th, scrapper Rube Morris hauled the engine and a coach (no. 70) to Idaho Springs using engine 69.  The engine and her small train were on display on a small strip of land between Miner Street and Colorado Blvd.  At some point a log-cabin styled gift shop was built next to the train.  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, the train was moved forward on March 14, 1987 into what is now Harold A. Anderson Park, the spot where a few year earlier, an old school house was moved as well which serves today as Idaho Springs' city hall.  This is where she is today.  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 the early 2000s number 60 also was taken into consideration for operation on the Georgetown Loop.  Jason Midyette, one of the directors of the South Park Rail Society, explained that, "CHS (now History Colorado) did approach Idaho Springs in 2004 about using No. 60 on the Loop and Idaho Springs was seemingly favorable to the idea. In further discussions, it was brought to everyone's attention that 60 was the only surviving C&S narrow gauge locomotive that was completely original and essentially untouched from its days on the C&S. As returning it to operation would entail changes and replacement parts, a case was made that 60 should be preserved as a record of C&S practices which would be irrevocably lost if the locomotive was operated on the Loop. CHS and Idaho Springs decided that the locomotive should be preserved and it was no longer considered for operation.  
     Today number 60, with her coach, still sits proudly on the track looking ahead down the former right-of-way on Idaho Street.

     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.

Clifford, Steve. (October 2017). "Hauling C&S No. 71." The Bogies and the Loop, 9-15.

"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.  

Klinger, Tom and Denise.  C&S Clear Creek Memories and Then Some. 

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.

Midyette, Jason. (January 2018). "Sole Survivor: the last DSP&P locomotive."  The Bogies and the Loop, 9-13.

Midyette, Jason. Correspondence via email February 2020 concerning the Georgetown Loop's interest in C&S 60 in 2004.

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 

--> -->

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Long Lost Footage of the Last C&S Passenger Train

"Has anyone seen that movie or knows if it still exists?"

-These words are written by Daniel W. Edwards, author of the Documentary History of the South Park Line series, and son of one of the charter members of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, Walker S. Edwards.

His comment comes in Volume 6 after an April 10, 1937 Leadville newspaper account of the last C&S passenger train to Denver.  At the close of the piece the article's writer states "There will be many camera records of the scenes that marked the departure of the passenger train this morning.  N. M. Martin came all the way from Boston with his motion picture apparatus to file the event," after which Edwards inserts, "[Has anyone seen that movie or know if it still exists?]"

Is it possible that a small portion of that film is the following:

Of course there are a couple of reasons that this may not be specifically the film referenced in the Leadville article.  As someone noted on another post with this clip, this is likely the last passenger train on April 10, 1937 (not 1936 as mentioned in the video's title), but it likely is the train leaving Sheridan Junction.  So...
     -It's not at Leadville
     -If it's not at Leadville, unless N. M. Martin followed the train by car this must be someone else. 

Another April 1937 article from the Denver News comments that "Newsreel men...were among the 125 passengers who rode on the last trip over the famous line."

It seems that there should be lots of footage out there of this final train.  One that I have seen is on The Old Colorado & Southern and Engine No. 9 DVD with footage taken by Helen McGraw Tatum.  Does anyone know of other footage out there?

Also, does anyone know of the rest of the footage from the above video?  I've gone to stockfilm.com and they only have this 22 second clip from what I can see (and they want a LOT of money for it!).

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.