Sunday, April 18, 2021

Two views of C&S 74 - 1991 & 2003

I finally got around to scanning some old photos of mine,  I found photos of two different visits to C&S 74 when she was on display in Boulder.  The first three photos are from 1991 where the consolidation's tender is carrying the emblem of its first railroad, the Colorado and Northwestern where it carried the number 30.  The engine was placed here in 1952 through the work of Dr. John B. Schoolland, who got it from the Rio Grande Southern, on a piece of track near the former site of the depot and facing the mountains she once traversed.  

The chain fence is quite light surrounding the train at this time.

The next two photos are from a 2003 visit.  Some construction work was going on at the time as evidenced by the plastic fencing.  The tender has also been labeled for the engine's second owner, the Denver, Boulder & Western which was a reorganization of the C&N line.   The coach appears to be gone.  I don't know the story behind that.  You can also see that much more substantial fencing has been added around the train.  It was this year that the tender was sent away for operational restoration and then returned to the park.  I don't know when the work corresponds with this photo.  The tender was eventually used behind C&S No. 9 on its one season use at the Georgetown Loop in 2006.

The engine is presently on loan to and displayed at The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

To Alpine Tunnel by snowshoes, skis, or boots

The Denver Post
 Recently, someone on the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum related how, in the 1970's, he and a few
others made attempts to reach the west portal of Alpine Tunnel in winter using snowshoes and at other times cross country skis.  On one of the trips, the group left Pitkin in the morning, put on skis at Quartz, and, 10 hours later, returned to Pitkin after sunset.  

from The Denver Post
This reminded me of a Denver Post article first published in 2009 and updated in 2016 titled "Make Tracks to Rail Landmark."  The author, Dave Cooper, describes two different hiking routes to reach the east portal.  One is to walk the railroad grade from Hancock while the other includes hiking Williams Pass via Mount Poor, named in honor of M.C. Poor, author of DSP&P, to the portal.  

Cooper comments that snow can still be a challenge in late May, sometimes affecting the road to Hancock and necessitating good hiking boots once you head on your hike.  He also relates that in May he needed snowshoes to traverse Mount Poor. 

I have never been to the tunnel in the winter, though, I did see snow on the way to the east portal in June once.  It would be stunning to see the area in the winter to get a feel for what it must have been like to attempt to operate the line in those conditions.  As I have read in Daniel Edward's South Park Line history books, it is clear that the railroad usually stopped running the line for months, sometimes not opening again until well into the summer due to the snow.

from Historic Alpine Tunnel by Dow Helmers

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Following the C&S from Quartz to Midway Tank (video)

My previous video followed the line from Pitkin to Quartz.

This video covers the stretch of DSP&P/C&S Railway right-of-way from the townsite of Quartz to Midway Water Tank, following in the "footsteps" of eastbound C&S mixed train 93.  

Besides photos at Quartz and trains leaving Midway Tank, I haven't found any photos of this stretch during its years of operation as a railroad.  While a few spots of rock cribbing are pointed out along the way, you will have to content yourself with the incredible scenery and the wonder that a railroad line could be built so high up on the side of a mountain overlooking a stunning valley.  Some spots make the precarious drop off to the right look quite frightening!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Update on C&S coach 70's possible restoration

Clear Creek Courant article
On December 8th, 2020, C&S coach 70 left Idaho Springs for the first time in nearly 80 years and traveled via truck trailer to the shop where C&S business car 911, coach 76, and RPO 13 rest.  No. 70 had been on display behind engine 60 since 1941, but was moved to the shops in Silver Plume to assess its potential for restoration.  

In February, last month, news came out about the progress of evaluation of C&S coach 70.  

Her seats have all been moved out and the outside portion of one side has been removed.  While the frame is intact, the Clear Creek Courant in their article "A Labor of Love" reported that "The beams and part of the roof have rotted, the wooden trusses are bad, and much of the siding and sub-siding will have to be replaced."  According to Historical Rail Adventures' project manager Mike Horner, roughly 1/4 of the car will need to be replaced.  The work could take several years to complete.  Much depends on the goal.  It could be receive a mainly cosmetic restoration or it could be restored to operating status, as there has been some openness by Historic Rail Adventures to have the car visit the Georgetown Loop.

2018 photo-author's collection

Right now Idaho Springs has allotted $200,000 towards the work.  Of course more money will be needed for either restoration option and other funding sources are being considered, including the pursuit of a History Colorado grant.  The Courant article explained that, according to assistant city administrator Jonathan Cain, after evaluations are done and the funding is determined, "Idaho Springs will put out a Request for Proposal from companies that could do the restoration work."
2018 photo-author's collection

On a side note, Cain also said Idaho Springs hopes to do restoration work on 2-8-0 No. 60 and possibly build a roof over the entire train.

Excitement about restoration is easy, but when concrete steps are taken, such as the actual move of coach 70 and serious evaluation work, it signals hope that real results are finally in the works.

For more details visit The Clear Creek Courant article here.

2018 photo-author's collection

Friday, March 5, 2021

Following the C&S from Pitkin to Quartz (video)

On my last trip to the Alpine Tunnel our family rented two ATVs to ride up to the west portal.  I've found lots of videos of the route from Woodstock to facilities ahead of the tunnel, but not as many of the earlier stretches of right-of-way.  With a GoPro mounted on the roof of our ATV I was able to capture the ride on the old DSP&P/C&S right-of-way starting in Pitkin.  

This video covers the stretch from Pitkin to the townsite of Quartz, following in the "footsteps" of eastbound C&S mixed train 93.  Some historical photos and sites are highlighted along the way, as is the terrain traversed by the railroad.  

Monday, February 15, 2021

C&S 71 on video in steam in 1989

On my first visit to Colorado to ride narrow gauge trains my parents took me to Central City in hopes of riding the only operating C&S engine, 2-8-0 No. 71.  Put on display there in 1941, it was brought back to life in 1986 and began running in 1987 on the second tourist railroad to run in town (the first didn't use No. 71).  We parked and walked up to the boarding platform and station in Central City in the summer of 1990 to find...nothing moving.  Alas, I missed riding behind that engine by a few months due to the bankruptcy of the line.  

I have only seen one other video of 71 in action.  Last month another video, one I hadn't seen before was posted on Youtube show her pulling her train in 1989, including combine No. 20 , gondola 4319 , and another excursion car, possibly one of the C&S former boxcars-turned flatcars brought back from the White Pass & Yukon by Dan Quiat.  I know there were a great deal of problems with the Blackhawk and Central City Narrow Gauge Railroad, but it is still breathtaking (and a little heartbreaking considering the brevity of the line) to see C&S 71 under steam.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Como scores a 2-page article in Trains Mag!

The Colorado & Southern narrow gauge has not made numerous appearances in the annals of Trains

Magazine, the flagship railfan publication.  It has indeed happened here and there, but briefly or in small insets.  The last time I recall coverage was in 2017 when a number of small references came up related to Como and Klondike Kate, and the news that No. 40 was returning to the Georgetown Loop.  

However, in the February 2021 edition of Trains Como got a full two-page article in the "Preservation" section on the magazine.  

Most of the info is old territory to those who are familiar with the history and doings at Como.  There were a couple items, though, that were new to me. 

First, I was not aware that the roundhouse "smoke jacks were [originally] closer to the front elevation (instead of near the back wall and windows where they are currently).  This implies that locomotives were originally reversed in, instead of positioned head first, as practiced later.  The reason for the change and its resulting modification to the building is unclear."  Curiously, it appears Klondike Kate has been reversed in for the most part.

I was also not aware that "A much more in-depth project, a two axle bobber caboose frame, rests nearby atop several sawhorses.  Due to the frame's fragile condition, an exact reproduction has been built from heavy timbers."  If anyone has more info on this project, please let me know.

Finally, as a testimony to the hard work of all those at Como, it was encouraging to read the author Z.P. Liollio describe 1878 DSP&P boxcar 608 as "pristine."  For those who have seen photos of this car when it was moved from its location as a cabin, this positive designation is an honor to tremendous restoration work!