2010-10-01

Featured Photographer - Gary Morris

Aside from the photo aggregate sites like  railpictures.net and rrpicturearchives.net, it's hard to find photographers with high-quality railroad photographs of the 60s, 70s and 80s in Colorado. That's why I got a bit excited when I found Gary Morris' site and his section on the Rio Grande Railroad earlier this summer. He's got his collection organized in HTML by railroad, but you can still find a few BN and UP shots in Denver if you dig for them.

Both photos Gary Morris
Of particular note is this shot of D&RGW SD45 #5323 leading a long consist of coal cars northward in November 1976 through Union Station's then extensive line of platforms. That's right, "through." Residents of Denver's LoDo lofts might act distressed if such a parade were to happen today. The line from the Rio Grande's Burnham yard to the UP and BN yards that ran though Union Station was severed in the late 70s (or early 80s at the latest). Passenger trains that used to glide into Denver must now do a complicated turn on a wye and back into Denver's Union Station, as Henry Kisor said in his book Zephyr - Tracking a Dream Across America, like a timid burlesque dancer backend first onto the stage.

Today, the platforms are mostly gone, Union Station is in the beginnings of an overhaul by DUSPA, and the last elements of the Rio Grande are Rusting Gracefully away as coal gons, infrastructure and the like are retired or repainted in new ownership colors. The 5323 itself has been repainted to Armour yellow, renumbered twice (first as UP 4734 note 9) and rebuilt to an SD40-2, but remains working as of last week for CIT Group as CEFX 2784.

In additon to his own site, Gary Morris has his photos out there on the previously mentioned websites at railpictures.net (CO pics) and garycm.rrpicturearchives.net (CO pics). Go check them out! Some are repeats, but they're good enough that you probably won't mind.