Saturday, March 28, 2009

Railroad Museum Reopens After Blizzard

Donald Tallman, Executive Director of the Colorado Railroad Museum, caught these photos of the museum grounds the day after the blizzard that covered eastern Colorado and left it's mark on most of the state. The museum has opened today, offering its usual weekend rides around the grounds (extra ticket required). Spring snows don't hang around long, and it will likely be gone after Sunday.

Colorado Railroad Museum

Monday, March 16, 2009

Summer Goose Migrations On the C&TS

The Rio Grande Southern's Galloping Goose Motor 5 from Dolores will be running on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic railroad this summer 2009. Here are the dates, destinations and ticket prices:
  • June 18 - Chama to Antonito - ticket price $90
  • June 19 & 20 - Antonito to Osier roundtrips - $79
  • June 21 - Antonito to Chama - $90
All prices include lunch at Osier.

The Goose will then be back in the fall for another series of trips. This should be when the aspens are around their best down south. Here are the dates, routes and prices:
  • October 1 - Chama to Antonito - ticket price $95
  • October 2 & 3 - Antonito to Osier roundtrips - $95
  • October 4 - Antonito to Chama - $95
Lunch at Osier again is included in the price of a ticket. Call the Cumbres & Toltec ticket office 888-286-2737 for reservations for either migration.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Durango & Silverton Station Burglarized

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad station in Durango suffered a broken door and jangled nerves Wednesday (the 11th) at 1:24 a.m. when a thief tripped an alarm, apparently scaring them off. One of the doors on the east side of the station was forced and a door to the gift shop was left open. A search of the surrounding yard revealed damage to the doors of some outbuildings. (Full Story)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Our Rails Are Rusting

Of interest to all ferroequinologists is this article from It discusses the local impact of so many railcars parked on sidings as the shipments nosedive from the deepening recession. Rusting rails may not be the only impact of the lack of use. Idle cars are an "eyesore" to residents nearby and the are also prone to vandalism, which includes not only graffiti but also theft or destruction of car components.

A crisis this long in the making may not have any easy answers. Rails that were still warm to the touch 18 months ago are sitting cold now. Has the light at the end of the tunnel been turned off? It's not looking too hopeful, but time will tell. One thing is for sure, as the article concludes, fewer trains are running and that means we'll see less of a good thing, even we ferroequinologists.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Rio Grande narrow gauge cabooses (cabeese?) have square-shaped nuts and bolts. How do I know this? Years ago, I worked with Colorado Railroad Museum volunteers to help restore a caboose, replacing hex heads with the authentic hardware. It felt great getting to restore a bit of Colorado railroading history, and I connect with the caboose when I come through the museum.

Connect with history on your own by volunteering with your local museum, or consider working on one of the Friends of the C&TS worksessions this summer. But don't just connect with history, connect with a family member, a spouse, or even a friend over your work together. Meet some new friends and get out of the routine!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

DP: Union Pacific Engine Examined As Possible Wildfire Source On Moffat in Arvada

Photo by Kevin Morgan, - Click to visitThe Denver Post is reporting that as many as nine wildfires were started by a Union Pacific train on the Moffat Route through Arvada. Grass fires stretched for five miles on Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. A Red Flag warning was issued by the National Weather Service for the area at the time, meaning that conditions were ripe for any wildfires to grow quickly. According to Scott Pribble of the Arvada Fire Department, numerous witnesses claimed they saw sparks from the train ignite dry grasses next to the tracks. The fires stretched from West 72nd Avenue and Oak Street to near the junction of Colorado 72 and 93, near Rocky.

The fires set by the train engulfed the home and barn of 92-year-old Margery Kusulas, who escaped with her daughter Angela only seconds before the fire reached them from the tracks, some 60 yards away. The fire burnt both structures to the ground and threatened the Pioneer Ridge subdivision before being extinguished.

While mechanical crews cleared the cars of both trains that were in the area at the time of any mechanical problems that would cause sparks or ignition of wildfires, they have isolated one engine that they want to get a better look at as the source of the fires. Union Pacific spokesman Marc Davis said that the two possible sources on a locomotive, arcing electricity from a bad motor or diesel flashover in one of the vents, were very rare. Union Pacific says they are already working with the parties affected, even while the investigation continues.

For more details with photos and the original story by Howard Pankratz, visit the Denver Post.

Kevin Morgan has pictures as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Western Trestle Fire Ruled Arson

Great Western, the short line on the northern Front Range that served the Great Western sugar plant, suffered a serious blow to its infrastructure when a trestle crossing the Cache la Poudre River northwest of Greeley caught fire the morning of February 9th. The fire was reported by an employee of Noble Energy. OmniTrax, which manages the short line, says it will be seven weeks before materials to repair the trestle arrive. The source of the fire, which started in some weeds next to the trestle and spread from there, is now believed to be arson because all non-human sources have been ruled out. A full beer bottle and a half-empty (half-full?) whiskey bottle were found nearby.

View Larger Map

The loss of the trestle has effectively severed the line from Greeley to Windsor. OmniTrax is working with area clients to find alternative shipping until repairs are complete, currently estimated to be in late March or early April. Damages are estimated at $1 million. Anyone with information about the fire should call the Union Colony Fire Department at 970-350-9500.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

R2C2 Public Benefits And Cost Study Results

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) released the results of a Rail Relocation for Colorado Communities (R2C2) study on Tuesday, February 10th. The Public Benefits and Cost Study examined the cost and benefits of building a bypass routing through freight trains along the eastern plains of Colorado away from the Front Range cities of Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver and Ft. Collins. Such a move would leave local freight service to the cities intact while freeing up capacity for some type of commuter rail service.

The study concluded that while the project may cost between $1.0 and $1.5 Billion, the direct and indirect benefits would work out to between $2.4 and $16.3 Billion. The most likely scenario approximates the cost to be $1.2 Billion and the benefits to be $5.2 Billion, a benefits to cost ratio of 4.3 : 1. $3.8 Billion of those benefits would go to the public. While this isn't stellar, the jobs this project would create would have a positive impact on Colorado's economy, which is facing a major recession at best.

Union Pacific and BNSF, the state's competing Class I railroads, would partner with CDOT to build the new rail route, connecting Brush with Las Animas over 220 route miles. No official route has been announced. That will likely come after the RMRA issues its report on I-70 & I-25 high speed rail options.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Train Shows In February

The cold weather of winter can't reach indoors to many a model railroad pike. Most modelers make a lot of progress on their layouts during the winter months and train shows during these months are sure draws, both for the exhibitors and the shoppers in search of those hard-to-find items they need. Two such shows are on the Front Range in the next two weeks.

Rails in the Rockies
This weekend, Estes Park will host Rails in the Rockies. Offered by the Estes Valley Model Railroaders, this show will run this Saturday (Valentines Day) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Conference Center at the Holiday Inn in Estes Park. Adults are $5 and kids under 12 are free with an adult admission. Visit the EVMR site for more information, including maps, floor plan, and photos from previous years.

Add Rails in the Rockies to your calendar:


The Great Train Expo
Next weekend, the Great Train Expo pulls into Denver at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St, Denver, CO. Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22, the doors will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Admission for adults will be $7 and kids under 12 are free. This is a large event that pulls in exhibitors and hobby shops from several states around the Rocky Mountain region.

Add the Great Train Expo in Denver to your calendar:

Bring your wallets and your cameras to capture the magic of model railroading, where old railroads never die and new railroads and railroaders get their start.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Proposed Red Cliff Mine Will Need New Rail Spur

Rhino Energy and CAM-Colorado, LLC are planning a new coal mine north of Loma, Colorado (near Fruita) and they plan to build a new railroad spur to service it. The Red Cliff mine will need 14.5 miles of new rail over BLM and private land to connect with the former Denver & Rio Grande Western main line on the Union Pacific Railroad at Mack, Colorado. The rail is needed to handle the anticipated 8 million tons of coal produced each year. This is a separate affair from Rhino's McClane Canyon mine, which is currently served by trucks connecting with the Cameo coal plant in Grand Junction, scheduled to close September 2010. Planning is underway and construction will likely start in 2010. According to the BLM site, CAM would own the spur and UP would operate the trains on it.

Download a map (pdf) of the mine area and proposed rail route from

Friday, January 30, 2009

Young Father Collapses, Dies While Clearing Moffat Road

Union Pacific lost a very well-loved employee this last week when Kevin McCoy of Yampa, Colorado, died of an undiagnosed heart defect. McCoy was working to clear a rock slide from the line near Toponas on the Craig branch of the Moffat Road when he collapsed with heart failure. A celebration of his life will be tomorrow (Saturday, January 31) at 1 p.m. at the McCoy School in McCoy, Colorado. Kevin, who would have been 26 on Sunday, leaves behind a wife and 18 month-old son, as well as an unborn baby due this September.

My prayers are with his family. May God bring peace in this terrible time of heartache.

WeCo NRHS To Host UP Locomotive Engineer As Guest Speaker

The Western Colorado Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (WeCo, NRHS) is bringing in a Union Pacific locomotive engineer for its February 4th meeting at 7 p.m. at the Glenwood Railroad Museum. This meeting is open to the public. Steve Wareham, 16 years an engineer for UP, has been active in Operation Lifesaver Colorado and will be on hand for a question and answer session.