Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Could it be that a contraption built to help a railroad survive the Great Depression finds new relevance helping the museum bring in customers on a regular basis by running low-cost exhibitions of Colorado history? It could very well be.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The first accident happened Tuesday December 2nd at 12:45 a.m. in Mesa county near Clifton, CO when 28 year-old Aaron David Rudder of Grand Junction was struck near a grade crossing by a Union Pacific train bound for Provo, UT. The train went into emergency but was unable to stop before colliding. Rudder was last seen at a bar about a quarter-mile from the scene where he had drank a pitcher of beer. He had refused a ride home from the bar owners. His remains were scattered by the accident and it's believed he died instantly. He leaves behind a wife of three months.
The second accident happened Wednesday the 3rd at 6:45 p.m. in Denver at 66th and Franklin Street where Jerry Rivera, a 33 year-old switchman for the Denver Rock Island shortline railroad was riding the end of a local freight train backing through the crossing at 5 m.p.h. when a Freightliner semi rig entered the intersection and pinned Mr. Rivera between the railcar and the rig. He died at the scene, leaving behind a wife and three daughters. The driver of the semi was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The grade crossing is marked by crossbucks, but no lights or gates.
Two lives cut short at Christmastime. Both accidents were preventable by safety precautions that were ignored. It didn't have to end this way, but it did. Our prayers are with the families affected by these accidents.
Monday, November 10, 2008
According to a more detailed account in the Rocky Mountain News,
The SUV was hit on the driver's side, which sent the vehicle spinning counterclockwise. The vehicle went off the east side of the roadway and came to rest on its right side, facing southwest.
The train was a local BNSF freight working out of Denver, crewed by three employees based out of La Junta. None of the crew were physically harmed.
The reason for the driver's failure to yield to the train is still under investigation, although at least one article interviewing the victims families posits a few theories. US Highway 50, the main highway in the area runs parallel to the tracks just north of the grade crossing. It could be possible that the most inexperienced driver of the three victims ignored the crossing because she was approaching the highway, a danger perceived by the young driver as more imminent or more threatening.
Whatever the reason, the tragedy is that three women lost their lives in an accident that could possibly have been prevented by railroad crossing lights and arms. This same grade crossing claimed the lives of two men earlier this year and Otero county officials prioritized the crossing for the improvements. In fact, one report presented that Otero County had taken delivery of such safety devices but had not installed them. The improvements will come next year, too late for the three victims this weekend, and not soon enough for the other residents of Rocky Ford.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The D&SNGRR begins its winter schedule later this month on the 26th with runs to Cascade Canyon.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The differences were resolved. The projects moved foward. And there was much rejoicing.
More details regarding the museum's flock of 3
Note: it was previously listed that only Geese 6 and 7 were operating, but Mr. Tallman says all three will be running.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
More details will emerge in the future, but also in the bill is $18 Million to build an underground rail transit safety test center at the Pueblo DOT railroad facility. The text specifically says,
There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary $18,000,000 for the period encompassing fiscal years 2008 through 2011 to design, develop, and construct the Facility for Underground Rail Station and Tunnel at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado. The facility shall be used to test and evaluate the vulnerabilities of above-ground and underground rail tunnels to prevent accidents and incidents in such tunnels, to mitigate and remediate the consequences of any such accidents or incidents, and to provide a realistic scenario for training emergency responders.This is a minor boon for Pueblo, especially in light of the financial meltdown currently taking hold on Wall Street.
I'm going to keep searching this legislation to see what else made it, but this is a great help to the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority.
Friday, October 17, 2008
If you have kids ages 3 to 10, I'm sure they'll get a kick out of riding a Christmas train. Prices are much reduced from the regular season fares with many running at $10 per child and $20 per adult. Hear the sleigh bells yet? You will.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Just another case of trying to beat the train and losing. Hope this guy has better luck in the future.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
The idea is to pass the through freight over this route from and to the UP and BNSF corridors and keep only local freight to the existing rails. This would create the capacity for commuter rail service along the Front Range as far as Cheyenne or Laramie, WY and Raton or Santa Fe, NM, where it would possibly meet the New Mexico Rail Runner (or whatever it is called at the time).
As with most government agencies, the progress is extremely slow. They are having a second round of community meetings next month, which is fully five months after the first round. Here are the dates and locations, as announced.
- Limon - October 7 @ Limon Community Center
477 D Avenue, Limon
- Colorado Springs - October 8 @ Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments
14 S. Chestnut Street, Colorado Springs
- Las Animas - October 9 @ Las Animas Elementary School
530 Poplar Avenue, Las Animas
- Brush - October 14 @ Morgan County Fairgrounds, ‘Old’ 4-H Exhibit Hall
750 Ellsworth Street, Brush
- Pueblo - October 23* @ Pueblo City Hall
City Hall Pl, Pueblo
* - Date has been changed and updated
It's difficult to imagine that commuter rail will ever become a reality at this rate. Public discussion and village politics are not the way to get things like this done. Rail is the most efficient means of transportation, yet in the days of $4 for a gallon of gas, commuter rail is only being taken half-seriously. It's past time to lay rail, and we're getting people only to think about what commuter service would mean to Colorado.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The Valley Courier quotes Donald Shank,
Our historical foundation, whose mission it is to preserve Colorado’s rich railroad history, is charged with the dismal task of removing what was so difficult to bring to Creede ... the rails that built the town. ... And so it will be with a profound sense of loss that I will pull the first spike, unbolt the first track bolt and lift the first rail ... The biggest loss will be to history.
The impact of this announcement is yet to be felt. Of particular concern is this month's scheduled trip over the Creede branch by the Rocky Mountain division of NARCOA (North American RailCar Operators Association is a group of track speeder afficianados, a railfan sub-species).
What is truly disappointing is that this comes in the face of the apparent success of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad operating out of Alamosa in the heart of the San Luis Valley. On the other hand, every cloud over Creede has a silver lining. Depending on a lot, there is the off chance that a deal could be struck in the future for the RGSR to operate or purchase part of the line between South Fork and--just outside of--Creede. Plenty of mountain scenery awaits those travelling to the stomping grounds of Soapy Smith, and a standard-gauge steam engine already operating nearby could do the pulling. Who knows what the future brings, but some residents of Creede will fight it tooth and nail, to Donald Shank's dismay.
Friday, August 29, 2008
One word: Beauty!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Christopher May, one of the better contemporary rail photographers in Denver, went downtown to capture a mini-convention of trains currently in town for the Democratic National Convention that wraps up tonight at Mile High.
Capturing the night shots in front of Union Station can be a challenge but the results, as you can see on his page, can be magical if you do it right. He notes, "Lighting was mostly ambient, but I was adding some fill light with multiple blasts with a hand-held Canon 299T flash on some shots, though."
Very impressive, Chris!
Reasons for the closure, other than financial difficulties, have not been disclosed by management. Trains magazine states,
It is not clear whether GrandLuxe will actually declare bankruptcy or what will happen to the equipment, which presumably will deadhead back to the company's Fort Lupton headquarters tomorrow.The closure has taken some off guard, including some of their employees who showed up to work unaware of the announcement. This closure comes in the face of a popular standing among patrons and industry insiders. According to the LA Times, "earlier this year [GrandLuxe] was named one of the world’s Top 25 trains by the Society of International Railway Travelers."
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The museum continues to raise funds for the restoration. Donald Tallman, Executive Director for the museum states,
We have recently received a challenge donation of $250,000 to help defray the costs of the restoration. We have received nearly $30,000 in donations to meet the match, but we have a long way to go.
Those interested in helping the museum with this grant can call 303-279-4591 or 1-800-365-6263 with your pledge of support. Once restoration is complete, RGS 20 will return to steam at the museum for years to come.
Opinion: This is not unprecedented, nor wholly unanticipated. The price of oil and hassles of driving will continue to push commuters away from cars and onto cheaper, efficient Light Rail. New growth around the completed Southeast Corridor reinforces the principle that better transportation brings prosperity and opportunity, two things Denver will need to continue to thrive. Politicians will continue to wrangle over the cost, but there's no getting around the triple constraint.
In the News:
Durango Herald Online article
Editor's Note: There's a lot to report on, lately, so there might be a few more posts than usual.
The Union Pacific Steam team is displaying their locomotive 844 in Denver for the Democratic National Convention this week. They are scheduled to be in town until this Thursday, August 28th. It departs back to Cheyenne on Friday the 29th. Kevin Morgan caught the trip into Denver last week. (view this and all special events on the Colorado Railroads calendar)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
The public is invited to see and ride this beautifully restored antique railcar. Visiting hours will be on Saturday, August 9th, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m at the Denver Federal Center. Enter the Federal Center at gate #1 from Kipling Street, between 6th Avenue and Alameda. Tell the guard that you would like to go to Building 78 for the trolley open house, and then follow the signs. Government issued photo IDs are required for all adults. Pets and firearms are not permitted, and there are no nearby restroom facilities. Rides are free but donations are gratefully accepted. Books and memorabilia will be for sale.
Update: Darren Hadley with Railroad Adventures captured this picture of the car at the presentation.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Spoiler warning: Stop reading unless you want some serious clues as to the answer.
Interesting enough, the Denver & Rio Grande pulled up the narrow gauge rails over this pass as they withdrew from the Blue River basin early on in its history. Few railfans realize that the Rio Grande reached all the way to Summit county, and did so by first going to Pueblo and then up the Arkansas all the way to its source. There would have been no Ski Train to Breckenridge however. Aside from the length of the trip, Breckenridge was still just a mining town and Copper Mountain was still just a hillside above non-descript Wheeler Junction. Nevermind the fact that skiing was relatively unknown in 1923 at the time Rio Grande abandoned the 36 miles of rails on the Blue River Extension.
One final hint: The pass is still reached by rail, although the trains don't quite reach it.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Thomas & Friends has been on television since 1984, making the series 24 years old. While not every railfan enjoys the little blue engine, Thomas has introduced many a toddler to railways, Brittish railways but railways nonetheless. What the Day Out With Thomas event does is bring out people to the Colorado Railroad Museum who would not otherwise have cause to visit. Each year, those visitors are exposed to the museum and its presentation of Colorado's unique and storied railroad history, including children who have never heard of Galloping Geese, rotary snowplows or garden railways. What starts out with a little blue toy could end up as a life-long love of all things railroad and a special fondness of the railroad museum. The event itself is the key and it can't happen without volunteers.
"This event has been successful in the past due to the outstanding volunteers we have had. It takes nearly 100 volunteers per day to run the event. We can't do it without volunteers," Tallman says. Contact Kelvin@crrm.org for more information or to sign up to help with the Day Out With Thomas event. You can also call 303-279-4591 and ask about volunteering. You can even tell them Colorado Railroads let you know about it.
Here is a YouTube video of an early Thomas event at the museum. Be warned, however, that if you don't like bouncy, happy children's songs sung by children with English accents--and really, who doesn't?--it's best that you mute the audio.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
If Denver wants their FasTracks program on time and (relatively) inexpensive, the third constraint, finishing the job to specifications, they must sacrifice their original objectives of a complete system. When an area that was supposed to get light rail or commuter service gets word that it won't, it's a safe guess that they will be less than pleased at the news. Access to dedicated, efficient mass transit plays a major role in property values. A sagging economy and rising gas prices will immediately impact those values if a proposed light rail line or a portion of it is abandoned or spun as "indefinitely postponed."
If they want it relatively on time and to specifications, the cost is going to go up by more than just a little. The same sagging economy makes this a very painful option that may be out of reach for RTD. Increasing taxes in a recession is similar to reversing the bilge pumps to pump in water on a ship that's already got a hole in its side. The local economy could grind even slower and the property values would eventually sink when people realize they can't make a living in Denver.
If Denver wants the program inexpensive and to specifications, the third constraint of time will overrun the estimates. This will give more time for the existing taxes to raise more money, provided inflation does not become an issue. By far, this is the most attractive option but it may be only partially effective. Waiting longer to complete some or all of the remaining lines will have the smallest impact on property values if the certainty of completing the lines is real. Time seems to be the one thing people have faith in, Eventually, Denver still would have a first-rate transportation system serving its population and adding incentive for further growth, just slower and more sustainable.
As any one of Denver's successful microbrewers could tell you, timely maturation is an art. You can rush things, but that can ruin it. Waiting too long can be equally costly, but this is one time that spacing things out until economics improve seems the best course.
Update 8/24/08: Latest estimate is $1.8 Billion shortfall.
Friday, July 18, 2008
First, we have the Cheyenne Frontier Days Special Train run by Union Pacific between Denver and Cheyenne. The train runs again tomorrow. While the tickets have been sold out, there's likely to be a spot or two open on the photo line. This will be the last scheduled run of UP steam on the Front Range this year, seeing that the 2008 State Fair Express is already canceled.
Second is the Colorado Railroad Museum's 4th annual Wine & Cheese Train. An historic narrow gauge passenger train powered by a steam or diesel locomotive will run at approximately 20-minute intervals between 10 am. and 4 p.m. on the museum grounds.
Third and last is the Colorado Wildflower Special on the Leadville, Colorado & Southern. The train is scheduled to leave the station at 10:00 a.m. The tickets run $40.00.
Have fun this weekend, and don't forget to check the weather!
Chris May's Photos of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Special
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The railroad has offered to pay for the removal of the building, Bumgarner relayed to commissioners Monday, rather than have the small club bear the cost of demolition. It also has offered to reimburse the railroad club for improvements it made to the building since last summer when the club acquired it through a county treasurer’s sale for $100.
This is terrific news for the small club, which recently got word that it is likely going to receive a 99-year land lease from the county near Kaibab Park. The group is planning a two-story structure with park facilities and a museum on the ground floor and a large model railroad layout on the second floor. The club is applying for a $100,000 grant from--of all sources--the Union Pacific Railroad.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Tim Tennant of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad released this information to us earlier this week regarding ridership numbers for the season.
As of Thursday June 26 the Cumbres & Toltec has carried 8,032 passengers which represents a decline of 3.9% from the 2007 season. However, in the first 26 days of June 2008 the C&TS has hauled 6,467 passengers compared to 6,207 for the same number of days in June 2007 for a 4% increase. The heaviest day of the season so far for passenger count was Saturday June 21 when 462 passengers rode the railroad. Thanks to all who have ridden so far this year and we encourage those who have not to take a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec!
Gas currently hovers around $4.oo - 4.25 per gallon, and that certainly explains the lackluster figures. Yet, this is a relief to those concerned that too many would stay away and certain operations may not survive. At this point, at least for the C&TS, there are signs that this season will not be a disaster.
On a related note, Work Session C photos are also available showing the Friends of the C&TS and their progress.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
No, it's Durango, and Purgatory's a few miles down the road. All the same, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad owner Al Harper and business partner Karen Langhart have plans to build a railroad-themed hotel and convention center, tentatively called Railroad Crossing, adjacent to the train yard. The hotel would have approximately 220 rooms and the 26,000 sq. ft. convention center would accommodate 400 - 600 people, making it the largest hotel and convention site in Durango. The catch is, can Durango foot the anticipated $500,000 annual shortfall the new facility would likely operate with?
Once built, the property would be anchored at College and Camino Del Rio, joining with the existing D&SNGRR property on its south side. This would surround the existing General Palmer Hotel in a U-shape, with the railroad on the east and Railroad Crossing on the south and west.
Lots of hotel chains have approached Harper about building a hotel on site. The problem was that if corporate vision changed, Harper would be stuck with running or selling the property. "My dream," he said, "was to find a partner who believes when you stay at this hotel you'll be immersed in the railroad culture of Durango. This will be a railroad experience like no other."
Railroad Crossing would also have a two-level, subterranean garage beneath the hotel, conserving parking spaces in a downtown area that already sees enough cars with the railroad passengers parking for the day-long trip. Also planned are first-floor retail shops and a railroad-themed central plaza with a stationary engine and rails embedded in asphalt for moving railcars in and out of the area.
If they build it, we will come. The question is, will they be willing to bet the farm? Harper and Langhart are serious. Will Durango go with them?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
If the accident happened at the intersection of CR-6 and the railroad, that crossing is a dirt road (thus the grader) and was protected only by crossbucks.
Say a prayer for the crew and the family of the deceased.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Operation Lifesaver ran a special on Saturday from Utah into Glenwood Springs over the former Rio Grande trackage. On point was Union Pacific #1989, the Rio Grande Heritage unit. Three short round trips were planned to take passengers from Glenwood to Dotsero through Glenwood Canyon. Those of you familiar with the history of the canyon will remember this monument to an idea. The canyon was the original location for the monument honoring the concept of creating dome cars for people to view the scenery they passed through.
Update: Here's an article from the train's trip to Montrose. It made roundtrips to Paonia for employees of Montrose city government.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
NBC Nightly News featured Denver's RTD Light Rail D-line on their Wednesday night (6/18) broadcast as part of a piece on fuel prices and improving quality of life for urban centers. If costs are managed better, Denver can be the example of what western cities can do with mass transit systems. The video from the broadcast is embedded below.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Since FasTracks went up from its original price tag of $4.7 billion to $6.1 billion in May 2007, there has been another year of hefty inflation in the construction industry - fueled by hikes in steel, concrete and oil. The Colorado Construction Cost Index, a measure of costs for transportation projects maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation, increased 6.1 percent last year.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Alternate transportation will be provided between Denver and points in Nebraska by chartered motorcoach. Ground transportation to or from Iowa is not being offered due to roadway flooding.
Colorado Railroads blog post: RGS Galloping Goose No. 4 To Be Restored In Ridgway
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
... a Westminster police officer had struggled to get it off the tracks after someone called and reported it about 8:30 p.m. Two hours later, the stump was back and a 37-car freight train hit it and derailed, causing major damage to the train and spilling thousands of dollars worth of cargo.
This highlights the necessity of police and other first responders working to communicate suspicious activity to railroad police and dispatchers. I do not work for BNSF, but if a slow order or a high-rail vehicle were dispatched for the next train on that line, the derailment might have been avoided.
On a side note, several mechanically inclined volunteers are needed at the Colorado Railroad Museum to put the No. 50 Switcher back together. They need a Project Leader and individuals to work on installing the transmission, clutch, air brake rigging and running gear. If this is your cup of tea, contact Kelvin Harr at the link above.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The derailment happened at 95th Avenue and Wadsworth Parkway in Denver's northwest suburb of Westminster. Other Denver media, including 9news.com and the Denver Post (all news outlets), have picked up the story. Three crew members were aboard the local and one was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Police still don't know who may have placed the stump or trunk on the tracks, only that it could have been much more serious had the train been carrying something other than building supplies.
Kevin has more pictures from this afternoon. Crews are still working to remove the debris to re-open the line. There is no current estimate on when the line will reopen.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Similarly, the Grand County Historical Society is seeking to save the Granby Depot from the same wrecking ball. Ideally, the depot would be removed to a donated tract of land. If not, the society could possibly place it on existing land but it would be "jam-packed."
Entreaties by the Middle Park railroad afficianados to the railroad's central offices in Omaha have thusfar gone unheeded and unheard. The demolition move by the UP is part of their effort to make the railroad property from Denver to Glenwood Springs more presentable.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
On a side note, I'm glad to see the Denver Leadville & Gunnison engine 191 is finally getting some attention. For years, she's stood as a shadow of what she once was. Will she steam again? I don't know, but with all the steam power coming on line in the last few years and the current projects in the works, anything is indeed possible.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, Colorado's newest scenic railroad, begins its High Altitude Concert Series on July 17. In its second year, the train’s mountain concerts feature the return of cowboy poet and Western Music Hall of Fame inductee, Michael Martin Murphey, along with country and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs, among other national recording artists. The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad has the only ticket to this exclusive Colorado concert setting among a natural meadow amphitheater of aspens and pines under clear starry skies. Performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays through August. If this sounds too good to pass up, here's your link to more information on the High Altitude Concert Series.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
"This generous donation probably makes us the second-largest repository of RGS archival documents. This is an incredible treasure trove of information that will take us years to thoroughly examine."
This is a tremendous opportunity for volunteers to add to the extensive knowledge of the RGS and they now have it in a location convenient to the actual physical remains of the railroad. The Colorado Railroad Museum's generous contribution means very much to the fans and historians of the RGS. As new displays and archives are opened to the public, southwestern Colorado will continue to grow richer in history and culture.
If it weren't for the dedicated work like the volunteers of Ridgway, the memory of the RGS and the people who ran her to serve the area in early times would gradually fade until she was only an apparition reported in fables by tour guides.
This summer, you can catch a little of that living history in Ridgway on June 7th or on the C&TS or the D&SNGRR. Since practically none of the original railroad grade has running rails, the volunteers of Goose 5 have taken to running on these "sister lines." Seeing her run, it's not too hard to imagine her 60 years ago running on spindly trestles between Ophir, Vance Jct., or Dolores. Take a gander--I couldn't resist that one--at her first appearance on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic and another appearance on the Durango & Silverton's high line.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The magic of the Elitch railroad lives on in places like Tiny Town, Lakeside and a little park in Loveland, Colorado where the Buckhorn Northern Railroad continues to delight riders to the tune of 75 cents per round trip.
If anyone else would like to post their memories of "less than 2' gauge" or links to their favorite park railroad, they're welcome to contribute!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The speculation is the high gas prices are the main reason southwestern Colorado is seeing soft summer demand. How badly other summer railroads will feel the gas pinch remains to be seen as most open this weekend. Yet, one thing is for certain: if the Durango & Silverton feels it already, we won't have to wait long to find out.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Update: Great Western (OmniTrax) owns the rails, but it might not be their cars.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Normally, the FRA doesn't usually involve itself in the tourist railroad business beyond the usual Federal boiler regulations because most tourist railroads are "insular." However, Warren Flatau with the FRA says that they are not insular as tourist railroads go because of the occasional freight movements and other operational aspects of the line. Because of one or two incidents last year that would be reportable under FRA guidelines, the FRA has decided to more closely monitor the railroad's activities. Though the Colorado & Southern engines 12 and 9 add a great deal of curb appeal, the FRA needs to not only inspect the locomotives for public safety, but to oversee other operational aspects such as brake mechanisms.
This new attention by the FRA may indicate a renewed interest in tourist railroads by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, an industry expert panel for the FRA. According to Flatau, the committee is going to look at extending Federal regulations to the tourist railroads where the FRA deems it necessary for public safety. On the other hand, the open feuding between the former operator of the loop and the Colorado Historical Society has certainly played a role in getting the FRA to inspect the railroad. How it will impact Railstar's operations is still unclear, but it's obvious Railstar did not send invitations to the FRA. Number 12 is still to be inspected and hopefully it will be ready for the opening day festivities on May 24th, Memorial Day weekend.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Right now, articles like this are common because the time and season is right to fund and build a rail-based solution for the I-70 corridor. This is the time that the Interstate 70 driver has nearly every reason to ditch his car and board a train bound for the Colorado high country. Crowding on the highway is at an all time high and likely will continue to climb for at least the next 20 years. Gasoline prices are prohibitively expensive, causing families to cancel or scale back their plans. These same prices are fueling an employment boom on the western slope, which sits on a vast reserve of oil and gas. I-70 figures to be the one highway everyone is talking about and trading in rubber on asphalt for steel on steel sounds more and more reasonable with every penny-per-gallon and every car-per-day.
Though it pains me as a consumer to say this, the worst thing that could happen as far as I-70 rail proponents are concerned is for gas prices to drop or remain at it's present level. Consumer demand would adjust and prices would normalize, and the numbers of voters and drivers willing to support a rail-based option would not expand but contract. Talks of a solution would shift to paving or other low-cost quick fixes.
Strategically speaking, the push for rail needs to grow and change from promoting a "gee, isn't this a good idea" aspect to advocate a lasting, growth-minded improvement that will offer Colorado a 50-80 year solution instead of a 10-20 year fix. Opponents of rail really don't have anything to compete with that, and their only gripe will be the price involved in any lasting change. Colorado has put off this solution for too long and we are reaping the results of such deference today. Our choice is, do we perpetuate the cycle and produce the same-old tired approach of more lanes in finite space or do we end it by instituting an improvement that will last longer and go further to build our economy?
I don't get up to the mountains as much as I used to. That's a refrain we'll hear more and more as the Rockies become our biggest liability, rather than our biggest asset if we continue to pave our way with good intentions. Rail offers true options, and the season has never been better to start building.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
The views of western Colorado continue to inspire, as you can see from the photos from an engineer on the Moffat Route available here. These are rare photos that are worth a look!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
On the Front Range, the Colorado Railroad Museum will open it's doors wide to the public on Saturday, offering a free admission day. For families strapped for cash, this is a nice break on the price, although the museum can always use more support. Trains will not be running Saturday. A list of their scheduled steam ups are available at the museum site and are listed on the Colorado Railroads Calendar.
Finally and most importantly, this is the weekend of the La Veta Pass Explorer expedition from Trains Unlimited. According to their site, steam engine #18 is going to make its first revenue run over La Veta Pass with this excursion. Obviously, this trip is sold out, but there is no limit on photographers on the photo line. Good luck and good hunting, gentlemen!
Additionally, the C&TS reports that the Friends' Locomotive 315 Charter on Saturday June 21, 2008 is sold out. However, the Cumbres & Toltec is still offering a number of 315 charters during its three-week visit to the C&TS. Please call the railroad's toll free number 1-888-CUMBRES for information and reservations.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
What makes Alamosa even more attractive is the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's newest addition to its line up, former LS&I steam engine #18. Because of their second steam engine, RGSR is able to advertise a daily steam train over La Veta Pass rather than just weekend steam service with a weekday diesel stand-in. The Rio Grande Scenic seems to be a railroad committed to making Colorado the steam capital of the western United States. It is a welcome thought to many railfans and photographers. The San Luis Valley trains are hidden gems that are finally getting the attention they deserve.
Visit the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad site (sound is enabled) or the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad site for more information.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Looks like a fun time! Just be careful. The Arkansas River is likely to be more of a challenge this year because of the high snowpack.
Friday, April 25, 2008
With the snow settled in, rather than being cleared routinely as it was in days gone by, the snow has the consistency of wet concrete or worse. Good luck, guys! Here's hoping opening day will be a full run of the line.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
As a reminder, I am continuing to update the special events calendar on Google calendars. The original post continues to show the upcoming events automatically, so you might want to bookmark it and check back there often. In terms of events, I added the swap meet at Arapahoe County Fairgrounds next weekend and a "Big Boy" day at the Forney Transportation Mueuem, along with several other "just announced" events. If you have an event, or you see one that is missing, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org about it. I'll be glad to put it up if it meets the guidelines.
I have also added more links, such as an expanded model railroading listing. Check out the new sites and maybe even visit one.
Finally, check out the store I've set up with Amazon. I continue to hand-pick all the items that relate to Colorado railroading, not just railroading in general. I am accepting reviews of products as well.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The article also mentioned a symposium put on by the Colorado Railroad Museum on April 26th, featuring experts on passenger rail travel. Scheduled to appear are:
- Jim Bain: Rio Grande Ski Train: A Denver Tradition for Generations
- Steve Patterson and Joe McMillam: Santa Fe Chiefs
- Bill Kratville: Union Pacific Passenger Trains
- Peter Hansen: The Railroad Station: Gateway to the Passenger Experience
- Tom Janake: Colorado Railrcar/GrandLuxe Rail Journeys
- Bob Briggs: Rocky Mountain Rail Authority
- Cliff Black: Amtrak - Past, Current & Future
Scheduled also for the symposium is the PBS premier of America and the Passenger Train. This offers a unique opportunity for those interested in passenger rail as well as the general railfan to make sense of America's past and future with railroading.
The following day, the Colorado Railroad Museum will hold a reception on their grounds for the attendees of the symposium. The reception will celebrate the opening of their newest exhibit, America and the Passenger Train.
Here are the details fresh from the Colorado Railroad Museum. Cost for the two-day event is $25.00 and includes Saturday's presentations at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, a box lunch, and a preview/reception of the museum's new exhibit. Admission to the Colorado Railroad Museum for events on Sunday, April 27th, is also included for symposium attendees. The symposium begins at 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 26. The American Mountaineering Center is located in Golden at 10th Ave and Washington Street. For further details and to make reservations for the symposium, call the museum at (303) 279-4591. Reservations must be made by April 24th.
Monday, April 14, 2008
If, and this is a big if, Larkspur succeeds in building the underpass, the Rennaisance Festival will likely double in size and surrounding businesses should plan their expansions now. The main reason, however, is still the best reason: A grade separation will allow fire and ambulance services to reach victims much faster, anytime. Separation of the grades will improve response times, improving the chances of survival for those living west of the crossing.
The likelihood of the separating the grade will improve as state and county leaders climb onboard. Union Pacific and BNSF will likely get on board about the same time. The festival organizers have been pushing for it for years, last year suing BNSF over a train that blocked the crossing for nearly an hour and turned away many would-be attendees. The organizers later dropped the suit, but still contended that something needed to be done. Something like a grade separation.
Good hunting, Kevin!
Friday, April 11, 2008
The study will be to determine the alignment the rails would travel, how to best complete the bureaucratic red tape that would surround such a project, and how to put together a public-private partnership. That last goal confirms my observation about project management that every project needs one or two "gimme" objectives to be able to claim success. It appears that this project is coming closer to a definite reality.
Here's hoping that 2018 will see a passenger embark in New York and never stop riding the rails until they get to Chama, New Mexico. After that much traveling, though, all I'd be looking for would be a bed!
Monday, April 7, 2008
Dick Kindig passed away at 1:30PM. His health had slipped significantly in the past week. There are no current funeral or memorial plans
Kindig's work to preserve the memories and physical equipment of the Rio Grande Southern and the Denver & Rio Grande Western as well as other Colorado narrow gauge lines will live on in numerous collections, museums and libraries. His recent honors at the Colorado Railroad Museum were the caboose on a long and successful career.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Notices of delay like this one is going to be a repeating theme over the next couple of months as crews struggle to clear errant rock slides from the right of way. The melting snows release their water and it flows down between the cracks in the rocks. When the water re-freezes into ice, the odd expansive property of freezing water works to push on both sides of the fracture, sometimes popping off the side of the mountain and falling on whatever (or whoever) is below.
It's the main way that the mountains lose those stubborn winter pounds in time for summer. The rest is just water weight from the snowpack. It's above average this season, which means an opportunity for some good water shots, especially on the western slope--if you can afford a fill-up. Use a telephoto to pull in those rapids next to the rails. Be safe and have fun!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
"They are just absurd in what they are wanting to do," said Stephanie Olsen whoIt's the opinion of this blog that unless the Olsen's want to become very unpopular for putting their interest above the community's, they should just let the EPA dig. It's one thing to make a point about landowner's rights, quite another to put the community at risk because you want a few bucks. The point has been made and they should let it go ahead. Or were Leadville's citizens not in that great a danger to begin with?
co-owns the tourist train, Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, with her
husband. "This is taking property without just compensation." Click here for more from 9News.com
Monday, March 24, 2008
Here's an alphabetical listing of Colorado's scenic and tourist railroads and the scheduled date of beginning summer operation schedules.
- Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow-Gauge Railroad - May 19th
- Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad - May 24th
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - Already open, May 3rd begin service to Silverton
- Georgetown Loop Railroad - May 24th
- Leadville, Colorado & Southern - May 24th
- Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway - Already Open, May 17th begin summer schedule
- Platte Valley Trolley - TBA
- Rio Grande Scenic Railroad - May 24th
- Royal Gorge Route Railroad - Already Open, May 24th begin daily summer schedule
- Ski Train, summer - TBA
Please contact the railroads via their web sites for more information or to book tickets. The announced dates have already been added to the Colorado Railroads Calendar.