2009-12-11

Derailment At Coal Creek Canyon Closes Highway 72

Derailments are as old as railroading and minor incidents seldom are newsworthy. There is the exception, and this certainly qualifies. An empty freight train derailed 8 cars while crossing the overpass of Colorado Highway 72 at the entrance to Coal Creek Canyon in Jefferson County, dropping a hopper car onto the highway below. No injuries on the train or highway were reported.

Having grown up in Jefferson County, I've known that the Moffat Road's approach to Tunnel 1 as it climbs from the Big Ten curve is a special place to watch trains. The serpentine track work fights for every inch of elevation as it wraps around the mountainsides. At this particular location, the bridge sits at the midpoint of a horseshoe curve, making an interesting perspective for the traffic on or near the highway. This derailment is a good reminder for all railfans to live the railroad creed of "Safety First" and place themselves and their property out of harms way, should a derailment or other accident occur. Standing three feet from the tracks may make for a fantastic shot, but debris from the train's movement and the possibility of a derailment are very real.