Friday, July 29, 2011

POTD - Maintenence

I said on Wednesday that it was a two-parter and this being Friday, I'm sure you're expecting something different. It is something different ...sort of. Actually, it's the same photographer, and the same subject, a steam engine, is involved, but that's where the similarities end.

Christopher May got my attention with this black-and-white image of two volunteers at the Colorado Railroad Museum during Shay Days. It is titled very simply, Maintenance, and it highlights a fundamental truth that it is not just a steam engine that works to keep the steel wheels in motion over steel rails. Each iron beast, steam or diesel, standard gauge or narrow, represents many, many man-hours of hard work, heat, pressure, oil and tools exhausted in keeping the rails plied with people, consumables and goods. Sometimes it's a gantry crane lifting a multi-ton assembly for a 2-dollar part replacement that gets focused attention. Today, it was near a cylinder on the geared drivetrain of a Shay locomotive at a narrow-gauge haven in Golden.

Incidentally, there are times when a photograph invites a black-and-white shot treatment, but this one fairly stands up and demands it. Great work, Chris!

West Side Lumber Shay engine #12 gets a hand or two during some Maintenance at
Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO on May 14, 2011 during "Shay Days."
Photo: Christopher May/GhoSStrider

Thursday, July 28, 2011

POTD - An Hour Or Two Earlier Makes the Difference

Today's Photo of the Day is the second by GhoSStrider, as Christopher May is known on flickr. This was apparently on the same trip, taken earlier in the day as the sun was still in its sunrise mode. As you can see in comparison with yesterday's POTD, which was taken later, the passage of a "couple hours" can change everything. Change the light in color, angle or both, you change the photograph. The rich color really comes through, even with the grass and the grain elevator.

Northern Colorado, which varies in area with whom you ask, is part of the Colorado Front Range Urban Corridor. Despite this "urban" definition, the people and landscape of this strip between Cheyenne and Denver is a mix of semi-industrial, suburban, and commercial islands strung like pearls along the I-25, US 85, and US 287 lifelines linking the two cities, surrounded by vast agricultural ventures that epitomize rural, non-urban life. Any journey out east will tell you that urban isn't what they should call the Front Range piedmont. Coming out of Brighton as the 844 works its way north, the landscape shifts agrarian for the first but not the last time.

The best part--from a railfan's point of view--about the old Denver Pacific line is that, despite its history, it's not all that old. UP maintenance crews have kept this line in good shape, and the relatively level grade lets 844 pick up some speed on its way.

Union Pacific 4-8-4 #844 paces down the rails through Brighton on a beautiful
Saturday morning July 23, 2011 on her way to Cheyenne's Frontier Days in WY
Photo: GhoSStrider

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Recent Moonlight and Wine Tasting With Prime Rib At Osier

The Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a volunteer organization that supports the historic equipment of the Cumbres & Toltec. Every year, they host some great trips and dinners, raising funds for the historic restoration and maintenance by volunteers. This recent video is a prime (rib) example of the Friends trip, open to all who love the railroad.

POTD - Terry Ranch Road

Today's picture of the day comes from last Saturday's Cheyenne Frontier Days special chartered by the Denver Post. Chris (GhoSStrider on flickr) has been building himself up as another of Colorado's young and talented railroad photographers for several years now. He deserves a two-parter, the second you will see tomorrow.

Terry Ranch Road
Denver Post's Cheyenne Frontier Days Special approaches Terry Ranch Road, just
north of the Colorado border on its final miles to Cheyenne Frontier Days 7/23/11
Photo: GhoSStrider

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

POTD - Silver Sky Vanishes Into the Dark

Some photos need to be cropped and others don't. I've learned that it's a good idea when shooting to leave some extra space around what you're shooting. Like my barber said, "We can always go shorter." Risk a slight loss of definition for a better chance of making a great photo. Not having the right size is nearly always the cause for an awesome photograph missing the cover of a magazine. A primary example of this is today's Photo of the Day: Silver Sky farewell at Moffatt Tunnel.

Former California Zephyr Sleeper/Observation/Dome car Silver Sky
just before vanishing into the darkness of the Moffat Tunnel, 1987
Photo: Chip colorado zephyr

Monday, July 25, 2011

Trainstar: Guide to Temporary Train Station

What changed at this year's Cheyenne Frontier Days Special (here/there) was the location where passengers boarded, near the temporary Amtrak station. Helen Bushnell, blogger for Train Star, completed a very helpful guide to Denver's Temporary Train Station, in place for the duration of DUSPA's remodeling of Union Station, due to end in 2014. She's put together a fairly decent travel guide in her post. Of note, she pays attention to details that are meaningful to most, including the disabled and the folks that are onboard and jumping off to grab a few items at the nearest convenience store. Thanks, Ms. Bushnell, for helping folks Travel by Train. If anyone is still looking for official information, here's the best available directions (PDF) and the site.

POTD - Photo of the Day Debut

Today, we start a new format for POTD, Photo Of The Day. The purpose of POTD is, lest we forget, to give photographers more exposure and to get them noticed. There is no commercial interest driving this feature, just a love of the art. All clicks on the photo will be directed to the photographer's hosting site whenever possible.

The first Photo of the Day for the new format is a personal favorite. I was present at the unveiling of the Union Pacific's Heritage fleet's tribute to the Denver & Rio Grande Western, SD-70ACe UP 1989. Kevin Morgan was also there, and I'll admit, his skills--and camera--are better than mine.

UP SD70ACe 1989 on June 17, 2006 at the Union Pacific equipment yard
Photo Kevin Morgan

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reader Poll Results

The poll has closed and we have our results! Of those voting on location, Here on this blog took all the votes. I'm glad, because starting up blogs is a headache. Of those voting on length and frequency it was pretty much split down the middle. With 43% of the voters picking weekly with deeper coverage and 57% picking daily and short, I might try mixing it up with deep and weekly one week and short, quick and daily the next. I'm not completely certain.

What is certain is that Picture of the Day will start on this blog on Monday. See you then!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cheyenne Frontier Days Winds Down

UP 4-8-4 #844 and Centennial DD40X
#6936 in Cheyenne, photo: UP
The Cheyenne Frontier Days Special has just about wrapped up its runs for 2011. They are heading south on their final run of the final day as I write. The last run is scheduled to leave Denver tomorrow at 1 p.m. for an arrival at UP Steam's headquarters in Cheyenne at 6:00 p.m. It is the first Cheyenne Frontier Days train since the tradition restarted in 1992 to run without the oversight and steady hand of Steve Lee, recently retired.

Steam-to-steam Transfers On Wednesdays Until August 17th

Here's a video from 2008 when the steam-to-steam transfer at Antonito was quietly tried out using a caboose to take riders into Alamosa.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Valuable Model Railroad Damaged In Union Station Floods

The HO-scale Platte Valley & Western model railroad and the O-scale Colorado Midland model railroad, both located in the basement of Union Station, were flooded earlier this month. While only a few inches, the flood caused damage to electrical equipment of the Platte Valley & Western as well as damage to display materials stored in a closet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hear That Whistle Blow

One of the more interesting groups of railfans are the ones that are into locomotive whistles and horns, the signaling devices used by engineers to communicate and warn the world outside his cab of what he's doing. An entire industry has grown around a collection of railfans who collect and, at times, sound off their affection for trains.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th and Talk About Picture of the Day

Old Glory as it was July 4, 1877
the first Independence Day after
Colorado joined the Union
First, Happy Fourth of July to everyone! Have a great holiday and a safe return home.

Next, just a quick note about the POTD and it's status around here. Most of you haven't noticed the periodic absence or graciously ignored the gaps. Really, it's not me. No, really. It's not. Here's the story.