Wednesday, March 21, 2007

SP 1744 Steam Locomotive To Run On La Veta

It appears the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad just completed the purchase of former Southern Pacific Railroad standard-gauge steam locomotive #1744. This engine was listed recently for $800,000 by Ozark Mountain Railcar.

Built by Baldwin for SP in 1901, the 2-6-o Mogul is an oil burner. She has been reconfigured a few times, including going from compound to simple and having a superheater added and boosting the boiler to 200 p.s.i. After serving mostly in Califronia, her first service life effectively ended September 24, 1956, when SP retired her, placing her in stand-by status because of her good condition. According to Ozark, she saw occasional excursion service until the fall of 1958 when she starred in a feature film, entitled This Earth Is Mine released the following year.

She was donated to the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers on May 9, 1959, where the locomotive was on static display at Corine, Utah along with Union Pacific 2-8-0 #264, sitting pilot to pilot as a representation of "the driving of the golden spike." This was prior to the actual rail park at Promontory, Utah.

She went to the Heber Valley Railroad (the Heber Creeper) in the 80s. According to Christopher Hawkins,
I learned to fire on SP 2-6-0 #1744. At that time, this engine just wasn't a good steamer at all, it's 63" drivers were designed to sprint down the San Juaquin Valley at 50mph, not climb a 2.5% mountain grade at 15mph like we were running her. Even retired SP hogheads [engineers] couldn't get her to steam; damper wide open, damper closed, fire door propped open, blower set for takeoff, she just didn't cooperate, and that made excellent firemen out of us, because there was no mercy, you had to plan ahead for everything. Later, we found that by cutting an auxilliary breathing hole in the oilpan near the burner, it allowed the fire to rise up and fill the corners of the firebox, she steamed like a firecracker after that!
In the 90s, rebuilding began for excursion service in Ft. Worth, Texas but work was not completed until she was sold to the New Orleans and Gulf Coast, a subsidiary of the Rio Grande Pacific Corporation, in 1999. Work was begun in Ft. Worth and a few break-in trips were made before she was shipped to the Big Easy. The next year, she began her work for the NO&GC. All too quickly, the venture folded in a couple of months and the 1744 has been for sale, serviceable, but will need some work before a full season can be expected out of her.

Here's hoping that the 1744 can leave her troubled past behind and begin to boost interest in the La Veta Pass route.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Richardson Memorial Service Scheduled

From the Colorado Railroad Museum...
You are invited to attend a Memorial Service for Bob Richardson on Saturday, May 5 2:00PM at the Colorado Railroad Museum to celebrate his life and his important contributions to railroad history and preservation. The locomotive #346 restoration fund has been created to honor Bob. All donations to the fund will be used to complete the last phase in the restoration of the 346. Donations should be made to "Colorado Railroad Museum" and designated to the 346 restoration fund.
For more information, visit the Colorado Railroad Museum web site. For directions, visit the site for a general map or get specific directions using Google Maps.

Monday, March 5, 2007

CRRM Co-founder Robert W. Richardson Dies at age 96

By Ron Hill, Colorado Railroad Museum, Photo by Mallory H. Ferrell

Photo by Mallory H. FerrellFondly called “Uncle Robert” by all those who know and admired him, Robert William Richardson, age 96, passed away peacefully in State College, Pennsylvania, on February 23, 2007. Although plagued by short bouts of illness in recent years, Bob had remained basically healthy and in full possession of his remarkable memory and sharp wit right up until the end. Perhaps best known as the co-founder and longtime Executive Director of the Colorado Railroad Museum and a distinguished railroad author and photographer, Bob’s career could easily have gone in a different direction. Born in Rochester, Pennsylvania, on May 21, 1910, he moved with his parents to Akron, Ohio, in 1915 and later graduated from high school there. Diverted from a college education, Bob went to work for a local hardware concern until the depression cost him his job. Along the way he had learned the printing business and proceeded to start his own small print shop in Akron. The depression years were especially hard for printers, and Bob’s shop closed in 1937. Stamp collecting was one of his major hobbies, and George Linn hired him as the second editor of “Linn’s Weekly Stamp News,” the principal publication dealing with that interest. Fortunately, for rail hobbyists and historians, Bob’s other hobby was railroading.

As a teenager, Bob enjoyed watching and photographing trains in Ohio and Pennsylvania. His insatiable curiosity led him to study railroad operations and history, and later he wrote articles for both “Trains” and “Railroad” magazines. In anticipation of forthcoming military service, he quit his job with “Linn’s” but then learned that he would not be called up for some time. Thus, he took a job as an advertising representative for the Seiberling Rubber Company, which required him to travel extensively through the southern states as he assisted Seiberling tire dealers and sought out interesting short line railroads.

In the summer of 1941, Bob and a friend came to Colorado for the first time, making an unforgettable circle tour on the narrow gauge. Bob become completely enamored of the slim gauge railroads of Colorado. After military service with the Army Signal Corps during WWII in Iran, where he studied the Persian railroads and learned to read Farsi, Bob returned to his job with Seiberling, but the lure of Colorado remained strong. He made repeated vacation trips to narrow gauge country in 1945, 1946 and 1947, eventually deciding to make his home here. In 1948 he quit his job, and he and a friend from Ohio pooled their resources to open the Narrow Gauge Motel in Alamosa. The motel grounds offered a fine place to display some of the narrow gauge equipment he had purchased, along with that saved by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. While at the motel, he began the sporadic publication of a very significant newsletter called simply “Narrow Gauge News” which later became the Colorado Railroad Museum’s “Iron Horse News.” At Alamosa, Bob Richardson tirelessly railed against the abandonment of the historic narrow gauge lines. It can accurately be said that his untiring efforts and the publicity he generated were among the primary reasons that the Silverton Train and the Cumbres and Toltec were preserved for future generations to savor.

While in Alamosa, Bob amassed a formidable collection of railroad artifacts and equipment, including famed D&RGW locomotive No. 346, which he purchased with his own funds in 1950. Then Cornelius W. Hauck, another prominent railroad enthusiast from Ohio, acquired D&RGW 318 and placed it at the motel. Bob’s friendship with “Corny” Hauck led to the establishment of the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, which is today recognized as one of the truly great railroad museums in the country. Purchase of the former farm just east of Golden was completed in 1958, and the museum was officially opened to the public in July of 1959. Construction of the Iron Horse Motel next door was intended to be an additional source of operating revenue but instead proved to be overly time-consuming and was sold. Several years down the road, the motel was purchased and razed to make way for the roundhouse restoration facility and to enable completion of a loop of narrow gauge track. The Robert W. Richardson Railroad Library at the museum was created and named in his honor. Bob served as the distinguished Executive Director of the Colorado Railroad Museum until 1991 when he made the decision to retire and move back to Pennsylvania in that part of the country where he had been raised and where his nephews and niece reside. Even in retirement he continued to produce significant volumes dealing with railroad history, especially here in Colorado. Today, persons treasure their friendships and even casual meetings with him and will long remember his myriad contributions to Colorado railroad history. It is no exaggeration to say that he did more than any other person to preserve Colorado’s unique railroad heritage. We are indeed fortunate that his photographs and writings will be available for future generations of railroad enthusiasts and historians.

Bob Richardson was truly one of a kind and will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Uncle Robert.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Colorado Railroad Museum for the restoration of Locomotive 346.

Special thanks to the Colorado Railroad Museum for making this available to Colorado Railroads.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Friends of the C&TS Work Sessions

Ever want to get your fingers out from behind that keyboard and doing something real? The Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad have announced their work sessions for 2007. Sessions are planned for 2 weeks in May, June and August. There is also a special first session May 7-11. Visit their worksession page for more information, documentation and photos of previous work sessions.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bob Richardson

Update: The Denver Post had a nice write-up on Richardson's life. HT: Stourbridge Lion, Linkman

Update: Confirmed
There is an unconfirmed report that Robert W. Richardson, 96, has died this morning, February 24, 2007. He was born May 27, 1910.

Few people have done more than Bob Richardson to preserve the history and memory of the narrow gauge in Colorado. His legacy remains the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, where most of his preserved engines, rolling stock and railroad memorabilia are on display. Richardson started the Narrow Gauge Motel in "South" Alamosa, which grew into a museum and eventually relocated to Golden. Richardson was also an author, photographer and "abandoned line reporter" for much of the narrow gauge empire that circled Colorado. People who knew him characterized him as a railfan's railfan and a patient teacher of railroad science and history, especially when he frequented the museum. His numbered Rail Annuals were published under the Colorado Railroad Museum. Prior to that, they were often circulated on mimeographed sheets to the community of interested historians and narrow gauge-minded ferroequinologists.

With his passing, the narrow gauge fans of the world have lost one of their best.

Monday, February 5, 2007

A (Sort of) Familiar Face

Update: as of 2/16, the regular motive power (F40s) are back on point, not that they look all that bad either.

Kevin Morgan of captured the photo below along with several others near Tunnel 1 on the Moffat Route. The Ski Train is powering it's way up to Winter Park along the Front Range of Denver using 2 of it's 3 F40PHs along with Union Pacific engine 1989, the Rio Grande unit of UP's heritage series. Ski Train F40PH unit 289 was down due to a bad bearing, opening the roster for UP to put a (sort of) familiar face in a very beautiful place.

The UP1989 was unveiled in June 2006 at the North Yard facilities in Denver to a crowd of enthusiastic rail veterans and railfans.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Kyle Plow Train In Action

A plow train for Kyle out on the eastern plains of Colorado busts 20 foot drifts in this awesome 2 minute video. It's hard to ignore this much horsepower, but snow can plow like cement sometimes. FYI, the plow was not permanently stuck.

HT: Friscobob

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Video Of C&S 9 On Georgetown Loop

Thanks to Karl S. of Trainboard. He put up video of Colorado & Southern No. 9 that he shot vertically using a small handheld back during the short fall season. Yes, that's real snow coming down. To quote Karl, "...On the next run, it was snowing so hard you couldn't barely see from one end of the train to the other. Riding behind No. 9 in an open car in the blinding snow was AWESOME!!!"

Thanks, Karl, for some decent video of Colorado's newest old locomotive!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two Derailments In 36 Hours

Great Western had a road unit in the ditch on Monday out on US 34 west of I-25 near Kelim just south of the bedroom community of Windsor. No injuries were reported. A crane was brought in from Cheyenne to lift it out of the mud. Longmont FYI has the story.
HT: John Barnhill

Additionally, BNSF lost some coal hoppers at the stock show in Denver on Tuesday. The mainline was cleared relatively quickly. No injuries reported at this derailment either. Additionally, no cause has been determined in either derailment, but no one has ruled out the recent spate of cold weather that's been in the state for weeks.
HT: Steve Brown

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Governor Takes UP Train Today

According to the Denver Post's coverage of freshly inaugurated Governor Bill Ritter, the Governor is embarking on a special UP train today from Brighton to Pueblo. The Post says,
Early Saturday, Ritter and O'Brien plan to continue the inaugural festivities with a whistle-stop tour along the Front Range. ... They'll board a vintage Union-Pacific train - described as the Brown Palace Hotel on wheels - in Greeley and make stops for rallies and speeches in Brighton, Littleton, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The day will end with a spaghetti dinner at the Pueblo Union Depot. reports that the power for this trip is unknown. However,
The tentative schedule, as posted by "mojaveflyer" on Trainorders, is as follows:
  • 9:30 AM - Train arrives in Greeley
  • 10:00 - Depart Greeley
  • 10:45 - Arrive Brighton
  • 11:20 - Depart Brighton
  • 12:00 Noon - Arrive Denver (19th and Little Raven St. The train will not apparently be able to use Denver Union Station)
  • 12:35PM - Depart Denver
  • 2:35 - Arrive Colorado Springs
  • 3:05 -Depart Colorado Springs
  • 4:45 - Arrive Pueblo
  • 5:00 - 7:15 Reception and spaghetti dinner at Pueblo Union Depot
The freshman Governor will be touring the rest of the state by plane next week. There are no indications as to whether this indicates Ritter's openness toward commuter rail service along the Front Range or a rail-oriented option for the I-70 corridor, but given most liberal's favorable predisposition towards collective mass transit, it is certainly a possibility that there may be new passenger routes within the Centennial state by the end of his term.

Update: 4:12 PM - Nevermind.
Update: 9:42 PM - has a trip report

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Plow Trains

Kevin Morgan of has photos of the plow train extras that were run by the UP on the old Kansas Pacific line to counteract the effects of the Christmas and New Years Eve blizzards. As always, the photos are excellent. Here's a sample:

Of particular note is the DRGW Jordan spreader, which Kevin notes was used on Tennessee Pass before the UP closed it.

Colorado Railroad Museum 2007 Steam Up Dates

The Colorado Railroad Museum ( has announced the steam up dates for 2007. They are,
  • February 10 -- Valentine's Express
  • April 7 -- Bunny Express
  • April 14 -- ARM Conference
  • June 16-17 -- Father's Day
  • July 21 -- Wine and Cheese Train
  • July 22 -- General Steamup
  • September 15-16 & 21-23 -- A Day Out With Thomas™
    (This is a special event - Tickets $16.00 each, ages 2 and up, on sale June 1st)
  • October 27 -- Trick-or-Treat Train
  • December 1-2 -- Santa Claus Special
If you love steam or want to give your kids a memorable experience, consider taking them down to Golden on one of these dates between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Any day is a good day to visit the railroad museum, but these days have an air of excitement and enjoyment.

Note: The SCFD days (free admission days) have yet to be announced.