Monday, March 31, 2008

RGS 20 Restoration Coming Along

As readers can see on this thread, the restoration of Rio Grande Southern engine 20, donated to the Colorado Railroad Museum last year by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, continues at Strasburg. In February, steam mechanics fashioned the door sheet (photos), the part of the boiler that forms the back end in the cab. The door hatch has been cut and the door cover itself will be put on later.
Seeing an old, storied steamer come back to life will indeed be magic! I imagine that the museum will likely put her in service next to D&RGW #346, which will be something special, but I also hope the museum will seek and find opportunities for RGS #20 to make her way beyond their loop to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic. It's quite possible that D&RGW #315, RGS #20 and mudhen D&RGW #463 could all be steaming soon on the same rails at the same time. Richardson, Perry and the other early preservationists would be proud, if not a little envious of the railfans to live in these coming days. Without their efforts, we would certainly lack many of the steamers and much of the rails to run them on. The years of 2008 and 2009 look very promising indeed.

Raining Rocks

Ah, springtime in the Rockies! Bring your rebar umbrella and your hardhat; it's rocking outside.

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

LC&S Owners Block EPA Pump Plan

The EPA's work to alleviate water pressure in the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel has just hit a potential snag. Leadville, Colorado & Southern co-owner Ken Olsen, also the Lake County Commissioner who originally warned of the potential disaster, is now demanding that the EPA compensate him for an easement of land needed to complete the relief project.
"They are just absurd in what they are wanting to do," said Stephanie Olsen who
co-owns the tourist train, Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, with her
husband. "This is taking property without just compensation." Click here for more from
It'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?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Opening Days For Colorado Railroads This Summer

Here's an alphabetical listing of Colorado's scenic and tourist railroads and the scheduled date of beginning summer operation schedules.

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.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Is Here! Where Did I Put My Camera?

Spring is finally here. With warmer weather comes warmer rails. This video seems to be a favorite and it fits the spring mood. Enjoy!

Time to buy more tape, more DVD-Rs and charge up the batteries. Opening days are not far away at all!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Announcing the Special Events Calendar

"When is Railfest this year?"

"What chapter meetings are coming up in the next month?"

"My railfan friend is coming to Colorado 6 months from now. I wonder what we could do together?"

One of the biggest challenges for the railfan in Colorado is to keep up with all the different events and activities that they can be a part of. Colorado Railroads blog now has its own public Google calendar to give you one place to look for special events and activities conducted by the railroads and organizations in Colorado!

If you want to stay up to date on the latest happenings, click the Events tab the events tab at the top of the page, or you can bookmark this entry and come back often. If you are a Google Calendar user, you can add it directly to your own calendar. Just click the (+ Google) button below the calendar.

Update 3/21:
If you want to put this up at your own site, here's your links:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Slightly OT: Dog Found in Railroad Tunnel Now On the Mend

A lot of railfans have picked up on this story about Hogan, a dog in the Utah desert taking shelter in the Hogan tunnel. She was rescued and is receiving the care she desperately needed. A heartwarming story and one that's worth a slight departure from Colorado Railroads.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rare Power - Alaska RR GP-49s En Route To Texas

The Alaska Railroad sold its GP-49s for a second life in Texas and they recently made their way through Denver on a BNSF "dead in consist" move. Kevin Morgan has the pictures and the specs on these one-offs over at According to, these two are the only ones going to Specialized Rail Transport in Houston. The rest have already been sold.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Steam Engine Moved to Royal Gorge Route

The Royal Gorge Route owners and former operators of the Georgetown Loop Railroad relocated their steam equipment left on Georgetown Loop proper, Shay engine Number 8, down to the Royal Gorge Route in Canon City. As there's a difference in gauge, it may take some time in getting a third rail laid down to Parkdale, the western terminus of today's Royal Gorge Route.

That must have been an interesting sight coming down I-25!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Man Allegedly Throws Chair At Train, Lands In County Jail

Blogger is slow this morning, probably a slashdot effect. If you can read this on the site, it may be letting up. You can avoid this aggravation by signing up for the feed by e-mail (use the form at the end of this post) or by adding it to your feed reader.

Sunday morning, in Arvada, 28-year-old Alan Cardenas of Aurora was accused of throwing a chair at a passing train. The train was either on the BNSF branch to Golden or the UP Moffat Tunnel main line near the point where the two lines diverge. The initial report of a rifle being fired at a train prompted police to close down the area, including a portion of Sheridan Boulevard just north of I-76. The police interviewed the man and later arrested him when they found debris of a chair next to the tracks.

There is no reported indication which train was involved (freight, Ski Train or Amtrak) or whether the chair was actually thrown or placed in the path of the train. The charge against Cardenas is throwing missiles and also endangering public transportation.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

RTDs Northwest Rail Corridor Hits Hurdle With BNSF

BNSF and RTD are at odds with each other over the planned FasTracks commuter line between Denver, Boulder and Longmont, also known as the Northwest Rail Corridor. The question is who gets the rails between Boulder and Longmont around lunchtime? RTD had planned on running the entire commuter rail route all through the day between rush hours to keep the passenger traffic moving. BNSF seems to think that they need that time to move freight in addition to the off-peak night hours. From the Rocky Mountain News,
The $684.4 million, 41-mile line would use BNSF's existing single track and add a second track between Denver and Boulder. The second track would permit RTD to continue commuter service throughout the day while BNSF serves its freight customers.

But the existing single track between Boulder and Longmont would be closed to passenger service for four hours during the day for freight trains and maintenance.
The issue, of course, is capacity. Can RTD pay an estimate $45 Million for a second set of tracks to keep trains moving between Boulder and Longmont or are they going to need to shift passengers to the bus route? Negotiations continue between RTD and BNSF.

Friday, March 7, 2008

C&TS Unveils New Website

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic has unveiled its new web site with its new logo. The old site was nice, but this is taking it up a notch. Take a look!

2008 Friends of C&TS Work Sessions

The non-profit, volunteer organization Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad has recently posted their forms to be completed by volunteers to assist on one of the six scheduled work sessions in 2008. These sessions are the primary way the Friends complete their primary mission to restore and maintain the historic property of the C&TS. Whether you can simply paint a wall or machine new bearings, please consider supporting Colorado's unique and storied past by signing on for one of the sessions listed below.
  • Work Session A - May 12-16
  • Work Session B - May 19-23
  • Work Session C - June 16-20
  • Work Session D - June 23-27
  • Work Session E - August 4-8
  • Work Session F - August 11-15

R. H. Kindig Day

March 1st was R.H. Kindig Day, as proclaimed by Governor Ritter. Mr. Kindig is a legendary photographer of western railroads and is known especially for his work during the twilight of the narrow gauge. Now that Mr. Kindig is himself in his twilight years, the Colorado Railroad Museum hosted him aboard restored 19th century passenger car 284 as it was pulled around the loop by the museum's engine D&RGW #346.

As one Fred T in Wichita put it, "It's great to see [the museum] honor one of the greats while still alive. Too many fail to get the deserved accolades until they are gone."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Last Unpatched Rio Grande Unit Is Retiring

What a time to come up lame with carpal tunnel syndrome! Let's start with the most recent news.

The Union Pacific's last un-patched tunnel motor from the Rio Grande, #5371, is retiring. It headed east this morning from Utah presumably to be retired. Kevin Morgan of got pictures of the train as she came the east. As you can see, someone has already grabbed her number boards.

Her future is in doubt, but this Grande fan hopes and prays she is donated to a good museum.

More posts will follow.