Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rail Symposium Kicks Off Museum Exhibit

The Denver Post came out today with a very good article that takes a current look at how fuel prices are changing the way Americans are thinking about transportation. Could it really come to Americans opting for rail service instead of a car or a four hour flight? It's possible. Money is getting tight and people don't like spending hundreds of dollars to feel like a criminal and then a sardine for hours and little better trying to navigate their cars to the tune of $3.50 per gallon. As a result, it could be that airlines take a back seat to a spacious seating and efficient economy afforded by rail. Could America be ready again for the passenger train?

The article also mentioned a symposium put on by the Colorado Railroad Museum on April 26th, featuring experts on passenger rail travel. Scheduled to appear are:
  • Jim Bain: Rio Grande Ski Train: A Denver Tradition for Generations
  • Steve Patterson and Joe McMillam: Santa Fe Chiefs
  • Bill Kratville: Union Pacific Passenger Trains
  • Peter Hansen: The Railroad Station: Gateway to the Passenger Experience
  • Tom Janake: Colorado Railrcar/GrandLuxe Rail Journeys
  • Bob Briggs: Rocky Mountain Rail Authority
  • Cliff Black: Amtrak - Past, Current & Future

Scheduled also for the symposium is the PBS premier of America and the Passenger Train. This offers a unique opportunity for those interested in passenger rail as well as the general railfan to make sense of America's past and future with railroading.

The following day, the Colorado Railroad Museum will hold a reception on their grounds for the attendees of the symposium. The reception will celebrate the opening of their newest exhibit, America and the Passenger Train.

Here are the details fresh from the Colorado Railroad Museum. Cost for the two-day event is $25.00 and includes Saturday's presentations at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, a box lunch, and a preview/reception of the museum's new exhibit. Admission to the Colorado Railroad Museum for events on Sunday, April 27th, is also included for symposium attendees. The symposium begins at 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 26. The American Mountaineering Center is located in Golden at 10th Ave and Washington Street. For further details and to make reservations for the symposium, call the museum at (303) 279-4591. Reservations must be made by April 24th.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Larkspur Residents Now Support Grade Separation

A long-standing, summer tradition along the Front Range is the Rennaisance Festival in Larkspur. Almost as long-standing is the tendency for traffic jams to lock up the town's main intersection on festival weekends, especially when a string of freights tie up the grade crossing just west of the intersection on Perry Park Ave, the only direct road to the festival from I-25.

If, and this is a big if, Larkspur succeeds in building the underpass, the Rennaisance Festival will likely double in size and surrounding businesses should plan their expansions now. The main reason, however, is still the best reason: A grade separation will allow fire and ambulance services to reach victims much faster, anytime. Separation of the grades will improve response times, improving the chances of survival for those living west of the crossing.

The likelihood of the separating the grade will improve as state and county leaders climb onboard. Union Pacific and BNSF will likely get on board about the same time. The festival organizers have been pushing for it for years, last year suing BNSF over a train that blocked the crossing for nearly an hour and turned away many would-be attendees. The organizers later dropped the suit, but still contended that something needed to be done. Something like a grade separation.

UP Centennial To Pass Through Denver Today

According to Kevin Morgan, Union Pacific's last active DD40AX engine #6936 is passing through Denver today, in the early afternoon. It is en route from Grand Junction, CO to Sharon Springs, KS with a passenger special that is touring the UP system. This cannot be confirmed by DRGW.net's Locotrace, however. Kevin places it in Denver any time between 12:45 p.m. and 1:45 p.m., with the caveat that such time is "subject to a lot of change."

Good hunting, Kevin!

Friday, April 11, 2008

C-DOT Plans Second Study Of Eastern Rail Corridor

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is planning a study called Rail Relocation for Colorado’s Communities or R2C2. This idea has been rolling around for at least a dozen years in its current form. Essentially, CDOT believes there is an untapped commuter rail market along Colorado's Front Range or what is also called the Colorado Piedmont between Ft. Collins and Pueblo. They would know because they count the axles on their own freeways. In order to have commuter rail, however, the steadily increasing flow of coal and other rail freight needs to be relocated. That's where R2C2 comes in.

The study will be to determine the alignment the rails would travel, how to best complete the bureaucratic red tape that would surround such a project, and how to put together a public-private partnership. That last goal confirms my observation about project management that every project needs one or two "gimme" objectives to be able to claim success. It appears that this project is coming closer to a definite reality.

Here's hoping that 2018 will see a passenger embark in New York and never stop riding the rails until they get to Chama, New Mexico. After that much traveling, though, all I'd be looking for would be a bed!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dick Kindig Passes

According to Donald Tallman, Director of the Colorado Railroad Museum,

Dick Kindig passed away at 1:30PM. His health had slipped significantly in the past week. There are no current funeral or memorial plans

Kindig's work to preserve the memories and physical equipment of the Rio Grande Southern and the Denver & Rio Grande Western as well as other Colorado narrow gauge lines will live on in numerous collections, museums and libraries. His recent honors at the Colorado Railroad Museum were the caboose on a long and successful career.

The New Railfans

This is a bit off-topic since the article isn't based in Colorado, but since it's of interest to most railfans about the growth of their hobby, it's worth posting a link to the article.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Lost & Found in Cheyenne: UPD&G Passenger Car

A vintage railcar from railroading's early days in the west discovered in 1991 is finally getting the attention she deserves. The railcar ran on the Union Pacific Denver & Gulf and then on Colorado & Southern between Cheyenne and Denver before its conversion to a train crew cabin. It survived as a house for decades afterward. Now, its hopes are considerably brighter. Read more from the Wyoming Tribune.

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 9News.com
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.