Saturday, August 19, 2006

Durango RailFest Coming Up

The Durango & Silverton Railfest has been wrapped into The National Narrow Gauge Convention. It begins Monday, August 21st and wraps up that Saturday, August 26th. The convention name reflects that it is not just Durango & Silverton's show anymore. An excursion on 8/21 is scheduled on D&S's sister road, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic. Yard tours of the D&S yards and hard-to-find movies will go throughout the week. An exhibit trade show, photo and modeling contests (trains, not chicks), and other events will run throughout the week.

If you love the narrow gauge, enjoy steam and smoke, or model the Colorado railroads, this trip is definitely for you.

Georgetown Loop May Be In Serious Trouble

Only a few short weeks ago, it was reported that Colorado & Southern engine No. 9 was up and running on the Georgetown Loop. Now it seems that none of the engines on the Loop are running. Engines 9 and 12, as well as their diesel backup are all down.

For a tourist railroad to suffer such an outage at the height of tourist season is catastrophic. Negative press in Denver is only adding to the poor perception of the railroad and would-be riders are showing up in Georgetown only to find the line cold and silent. One grandfather who took his grandchildren up to ride from Denver said that next time he wasn't going to waste the trip just so his grandsons can play in a park. His sentiments are likely the feelings of the majority of tourists who have been surprised at this uncharacteristic shutdown. Additionally, one wonders if anyone at the State Historical Society is having second thoughts about their new operator.

Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

Update: As far as what's wrong with the locomotives, Eric reports, "One of the axles on #12 snaped. It was an original part. ...On the 44 tonner [diesel] - a traction motor blew. #9 was awaiting a boiler re-inspection earlier this week." No. 9 has the least problems, as it is only awaiting approval by the FRA to be put into service. The diesel will likely be next, as traction motors are easier to replace than 100 year-old steam locomotive axles.

Update: The C&S 9 is now hauling passengers on a daily basis.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Georgetown Loop Operates Colorado & Southern No. 9

Click here for an important update

When you hear rumors of something as big as this, you don't want to publish anything prematurely. For example, Wagon Wheel Gap has been stirring for years, but fights with the residents of Creede have nearly destroyed chances of getting the railroad up and running.

However, when I saw the photos, there's no refuting it. The Colorado & Southern narrow gauge lives once again in the mountains of Colorado!

Number 9 was built in February 1884 by Cooke for the Denver, South Park & Pacific. Originally numbered 72, the 2-6-0 Consolidation was renumbered 114 a year later in 1885. Four years later, when the DSP&P was reorganized by the Union Pacific as the Denver, Leadville, & Gunnison Railway, it retained that number. In 1893, the Union Pacific went into receivership, as did it's subsidiaries, but the DL&G obtained a separate receivership, which ended in 1898 with the formation of the Colorado & Southern. It was renumbered to 9 the following year. Two years later, it was rebuilt in 1901 and again in 1917. In the late teens, like all other C&S locomotives, it was equipped with the Ridgeway Spark Arrestor, more commonly known as a Bear Trap Stack. It hauled passengers and freight from Denver to Leadville and Breckenridge on the old Denver, Leadville & Gunnison route and from Denver to Blackhawk, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and Silver Plume on the Colorado Central's Clear Creek branch.

From 1929 to 1939, the C&S began to scrap number 9's sister engines, numbers 4 - 13. By the late 1930's, the Great Depression and changing times had slowed the traffic to a trickle and the C&S began to dismantle most of it's narrow gauge lines and convert the rest to standard gauge. No. 9 had the distinction of hauling the last C&S narrow gauge passenger train in 1937 from Leadville to Denver. It was sent to the New York World's Fair 1939 - 1940, stored in Aurora, Illinois until the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948 - 1949, stored again in Aurora, Illinois, and then sent to the Black Hills Central Railroad in Hill City, South Dakota for display in 1957. In 1988, the Burlington Northern, who had control of the C&S, donated the engine to the Colorado Historical Society. Two years ago, in 2004, it was sent to Uhrich Locomotive Works in Strasburg, Colorado, to be restored to full operation. According to the CHS, Uhrich casted and manufactured over 100 parts to restore the locomotive. Uhrich charged the CHS approximately $231,825. Uhrich delivered No. 9 to the Georgetown Loop Railroad around a month ago and Railstar has spent the last month fine tuning it and getting it ready.

Yesterday, on August 1st, 2006, Colorado Day, it made it's debut on the restored Georgetown Loop Railroad with photo runbys and excursions. It was a scene repeated from nearly a century ago, pulling tourists over Colorado's "far-famed Loop."

HT: StourbridgeLion, Colorado50