Monday, April 8, 2019

How to Fire Up Your Morning

Ever wonder how to fire up a steam locomotive? Take a trip inside the Colorado Railroad Museum's roundhouse to bring life to Rio Grande 491!



Producer Jeff Berrier shows us the condensed version* of the steps required to steam up 491 early in the morning before a day of hauling visitors around the Colorado Railroad Museum. Grab a cup of coffee, stoke the fires, and get ready to enjoy this high quality look at operations in Golden! ⚒

* condensed version ...get it? Steam ...condensed ;)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Spring Cleaning On Cumbres Pass 1993

Speaking of John Bush on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic, here he is in 1991 showing Rotary plow OY.



Opening the pass the old fashioned way sure looks like a lot of work, but a lot of fun too! ⚒

Video courtesy Greg Scholl Video Productions

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Short Film: The Railroader

This short film, The Railroader - Lessons Learned From a Lifetime of Working On a Historic American West Railroad, is currently in National Geographic's Short Film Showcase. Says NatGeo, "Filmmakers Annie and Russell O. Bush tell the the story of those who built and maintain this American tradition through the lens of lifetime railroader John Bush in this powerful short."



Powerful indeed. How can you pack all of that beauty and time-worn craftsmanship and wisdom in 10 minutes? I am thoroughly and immensely impressed! Count me a fan!⚒

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Of Lines Loved and Lost

For Christmas, I received Narrow Gauge in the Rockies by Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg, sixth printing, first published in 1958. It is illustrated with photos from W.H. Jackson, Otto Perry, and Richard Kindig, and paintings by Howard Fogg. Its pages are flowing with history and elaborate, almost florid accounts of life surrounding the narrow gauge in Colorado. Its foreword speaks of the narrow gauge railfan as if they were the Hebrews of old, saying,
To perpetuate the memory of the narrow gauges a generation that would gladly exchange the com­forts of here and now for yesterday in Boreas Pass has taken steps that stand as a testament of de­votion without parallel among other antiquar­ians no matter how dedicated. The Rocky Mount­ain Railroad Club tells their story in volumes that only a toler­ably strong man may heft; there is a Narrow Gauge Museum and Motel at Alamosa toward which dedi­cated railroad buffs every­where as Moslems [sic] toward Mec­ca; there is a periodical devoted solely to narrow gauge tidings which is the de­votion­al reading of The Faith­ful, and there are narrow gauge books, pamph­lets, post cards, ex­cursions, engine models, book ends, beer mugs, paperweights and pictured likenesses of the cars beyond all counting. To have ridden the San Juan or the Silverton Train is a greater experience than to have seen Shelley plain. The Faithful sigh for the snowsheds of Lizard Head and by the waters of Gunnison they sat them down and wept.
Even though it's a bit ostentatious and maybe pretentious in its prose, I can't help but see myself in this paragraph. I have indeed turned myself toward Golden (now where the said Museum and former-motel owner moved from Alamosa), bought countless mementos, ridden the Silverton Train and the surviving portion of the San Juan each many times over. I mourned the loss of the Rio Grande Southern while walking Lizard Head Pass and sat in the depths of the Gunnison and--I kid you not--wept bitter tears silently by its banks that the Denver & Rio Grande narrow gauge is no more.

Am I embarrassed to admit to those tears? No. Those who don't understand the loss and share in the grief have my pity. Furthermore, for all the faults, both real and perceived, the days of yesterday contained, they also had gems, real and perceived, that today's progressed people have never experienced. It is truly a loss that our forebears did not retain them.

Nonetheless, I cannot stand in judgment of those who failed to keep those lost treasures, for one by one, other, non-narrow gauge lines are similarly dying in front of our eyes with only a little interest shown in preserving them. I am thinking chiefly of the Tennessee Pass line from Pueblo all the way to Dotsero. It is more than 21 years after seeing its last through revenue train, and the line is suffering from profound neglect.

This may be just my own opinion, but it seems Union Pacific cares little for jobs or industry in Salida, Leadville or Minturn. With the closure of Burnham and other points and routes, it's easy to think that the suits sitting in UP headquarters wonder why all jobs can't be based in Omaha, Seattle and San Diego. It's highly doubtful we would fare better with CSX or NS, were they to merge with the UP.

I believe the citizens of Colorado and her government need to be able and willing to use their powers to preserve the thoroughfares built and maintained by generations before so that the means of moving people and goods through Colorado does not waste away. Even the Moffat Route is not impervious to the forces of consolidation and removal. Am I looking at a future in which Granby and Craig sit isolated like Gunnison and Dolores and the Moffat Tunnel lies in ruins like the Alpine Tunnel? I sincerely hope not.⚒


Beebe, L., & Clegg, C. (1970). Narrow gauge in the Rockies. Berkeley, Calif: Howell-North