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Narrow Gauge in the Rockies Tin Geese & snow in May

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Starting out from Denver on Monday basically a whistle stop tour of Colorado narrow gauge lines & museums starting with the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden and working westwards.

 

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Colorado Railroad Museum Rio Grande Southern railmotor Galloping Goose #2 7

Like the County Donegal the RGS turned to i.c. railcars to cut operating costs in the 1930s.

 

The majority of the railmotors have survived, replicas have been built of scrapped Geese.

 

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Replica RGS railmotor #1 at Ridgeway Colorado

Prototype for the Bachmann On30 & Large scale models.

 

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RGS Goose #2 and Denver Leadville & Gunnison (Union Pacific) 2-8-0 191

The DLGR started life as the Denver South Park and Pacific, never made it to the Pacific and was beaten in its race with the Rio Grande to reach the mining boom town of Leadville and the Utah border.

 

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GE 50T diesel on the Georgetown Loop Railroad

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a re-construction of a section of line closed and dismantled in the late 1930s featuring the Devils Gate Bridge where the line looped back on itself through 180° to gain height. The railroad was restored by a local historical society, the US Navy assistance in re-building the high bridge.

 

The GE 50T would have made a mighty useful loco on the Donegal if it survived into the 60s

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After the Georgetown Loop a drive across the South Park to see the remains of the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge lines(Denver South Park and Pacific) on to Montrose & San Juan Country to ride the Durango & Silverton & Cumbres & Toltec lines before returning to Denver.

 

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Georgetown Shay & GE diesel at Silver Plume depot & museum closed to public on day.

 

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C&S mogul on display Beckenridge (LGB Mogul!)

This loco was restored to service for one season on the Georgetown Loop, but withdrawn & put on public display as a result of mechanical problems

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Como Depot & Hotel

One time hub of the South Park system, more or less became a ghost town when the system finally closed in the late 1930s.

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Como roundhouse and township The roundhouse was designated a "National Historic Monument" meaning the owner is expected to preserve the building at their own expense.

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Trestle original DRGWR main line Black Canyon

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Newly re-painted DRGWR 278 C16 2-8-0 at Cinnamon National Parks Service depot

278 was placed on display on the trestle at Cinnamon when the original DRGWR narrow gauge main line through Black Canyon closed in the late 1940s. I am not sure if the National Park Service plan to re-mount the loco on the trestle or display the loco at Cinnamon.

 

The original 3' gauge Denver and Rio Grande main line followed a round about route from Denver to Grand Junction via Pueblo and Montrose where it linked up with the Rio Grande Western. The main line was shortened in two stages and standard gauged bye passing Montrose and later Pueblo to form todays Union Pacific main line from Denver through the Moffat Tunnel and Glenwood Springs to Salt lake City

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In some ways the highlight of the trip the journey from Montrose to Durango with a side trip to Cortez & Mesa Verde took in the remains of the Rio Grande Southern in south west Colorado.

 

The RGS which connected with the DRGWR at Ridgeway (True Grit) and Durango abandoned in the early 1950s served a rugged and remote part of South West Colorado using mainly cast off DRGWR equipment, & like the Donegal pioneered the use of internal combustion railcars for passenger and mail traffic. Its said that the 162 mile RGS was built because of the impossibility of completing a direct line over the mountains between Silverton & Ridgeway.

 

Despite its early closure a surprising of RGS artifacts survive to this day.

 

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RGS 2-8-0 #74 at Colorado Railroad Museum

The largest of the RGS 2-8-0s ex-Colorado & Southern #74 purchased by the RGS from a Denver scrap dealer in 1948!

 

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Replica Ford inspection railcar Ridgeway

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Replica RGS Motor 31 Ridgeway Railway Museum

 

The community at Ridgeway (pop 924) have established a railway museum which includes a short demonstration track for RGS1, full size and models of freight and passenger rolling stock, the museum and tourist information centre is operated 100% by volunteers, restoration and models to a very high standard.

 

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View of San Juan Mountains from Dallas Divide

The Divide was the 1st major summit crossed by the RGS out of Ridgeway the Silverton terminus of the DRGWR is on the opposite side of the mountains.

 

Although the day started out clear snow started falling as we dropped down to the San Miguel River and cleared off as we approached the former mining town now fashionable ski resort of Telluride (To hell you ride).

 

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Telluride Depot

Possibly sole surviving standard RGS house style depot with freight shed. The depot may have been re-sited closer to the river, to make way for apartments and units.

 

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Bridal Veil Fall at head of canyon

 

Telluride is in a box canyon, the line extended a mile or so to Pandoro Mill where silver and metal ores were brought down by arial tramways and later roads from the top of the canyon, a bit steep and windy for a hired car.

 

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Back on the road again, snow at Trout Lake May 26 16

The RGS was most famous for its long and high trestles on the climb out of the San Miguel river valley around the Ophir Loop to Lizard Head Pass. The majority of the high trestles had collapsed and Ophir disappeared under road improvements but the folks at Ridgeway said that trestle and water tower at Trout Lake were still standing

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IMG_0928.JPG Traces of the mines, depot and trestles have disappeared from the Ophir area though sections of trackbed are in use as forestry access roads.

http://www.ridgwayrailroadmuseum.org/photos.html

 

The once remote Trout Lake water tank appears to have been one of the signature photo spots on the RGS.

 

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Trout Lake Water Tower

 

We ran into a thunder storm between the water tank and the trestle but unfortunately no ghostly apparition of a Galloping Goose or a hard working steam loco on a stock or ore train.

 

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Trout Lake Trestle

 

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Luckily the snow was not heavy though we missed out on a photo of the mountains at Lizard Head pass, our next stop was at the replica depot and RGS Motor Car #5 at Dolores (pop 925)

 

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Dolores Depot & Galloping Goose #5

 

Dolores was once an important depot on the RGS the terminus for trains operating on the northern section of the railroad to Ridgeway, the depot was demolished and yards transformed into US Highway 145

 

The replica depot and demonstration track was constructed by a local historical society in the early 1990s and the Goose restored in 1998 and has since operated on the Durango & Silverton & Cumbres and Toltec railroads.

 

Goose 5 represents the final evolution of its type, rebuilt with a war surplus GMC engine & Wayne bus body and the van section converted for tourist operation after the railroad lost the mail contract.

 

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Durango "In Durango, In Durango The Spaniards did fandango, In Durango, Where the sun goes down at Noon" D&SRR train waiting to leave town before noon May 27/16

The RGS used the DRGWR depot, yard and roundhouse at Durnago. Durango always was and still is a railroad town although Durango & Silverton tourist trains run northwards to Silverton, the main line eastwards over Cumbres to Alamosa (the last steam operated main line in the USA)and the branch to Farmington NM closed in the late 1960s

 

The passenger depot and yard give the impression of big time railroading although the freight yards at the east end of town have disappeared under road development

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