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  • NEW FLORIDA-ALASKA TRIP REPORT POSTED
    Posted Saturday, June 22 2002 at 1904 h MDT
    Warning: Almost no Rio Grande content. After almost a week of work, I've finally posted the trip report covering my travels in May. Featured are CSXT operations in the Bone Valley outside of Tampa, FL, a visit to the Seminole Gulf's Fort Myers yard, a look at what's left of Flagler's FEC Key West extension, and then on to the Alaska Railroad, end to end. It's the biggest trip report yet, coming in at 213Mbytes with 135 photos and 8 chapters (5 of those text, the other 3 pure photos). You can either start at the introduction/abstract or jump right in on the first chapter. Enjoy! - NDHolmes

  • DURANGO & SILVERTON VOLUNTARILY SHORTENS TRIPS
    Posted Thursday, June 20 2002 at 1010 h MDT
    The Durango & Silverton, running over the D&RG's Silverton branch, is voluntarily shutting down the Hermosa-Silverton section of the line until at least 3-July-2002 or, worst case, whenever the seasonal monsoon rains show up. The full article can be found in today's Durango Herald. To quote their website, "Visitors and passengers who have reservations on the railroad are encouraged to continue with their plans to ride the train, as the D&SNGRR will be offering two daily steam train trips to Hermosa and back at a reduced fare. Additionally the train will be implementing a new highline trip using the railroad's newest acquisition of a diesel locomotive which will be pulling an excursion trip along the Highline (just north of Rockwood) and the train is planning to use their Animas River Railbus (a small diesel trolly-like car) to develop a trip from Silverton down to Elk Park and back." In other news, the RGRPC (the arm of the Friends of the C&TS that operates the railroad) has noted that they'll need to file for bankruptcy protection in about two weeks due to the closure. The D&S will recover, the C&TS with its ailing condition and lower visibility may not. Support them if you can - buy a season pass, donate money, every small bit helps right now. The C&TS just received a large anonymous donation to put three of the Chama shop workers back on the job, so that's at least something. Not a good season here in Colorado - support them where you can. - NDHolmes

  • RIO GRANDE DAYS IN PUEBLO NEXT WEEKEND
    Posted Sunday, June 16 2002 at 2109 h MDT
    For all of you in Colorado, JB Bowers reminded me that Pueblo is holding Rio Grande Days next weekend. It celebrates the 130th anniversary of the D&RG narrow gauge's arrival in Pueblo back in 1872. There's even some chance that they might be able to get a Rio Grande locomotive for exhibit. Festivities will include track speeder rides, tours of the Pueblo Railway Museum, a dedication for a new museum car, and much more (including BBQ - have to have food, you know). For more information, the website is here. Admission to everything is $5.00 for adults, $2.50 for kids under 12. As usual, we'll have coverage after the fact, but please show up and support this effort! - NDHolmes

  • FIRE ON THE MOFFAT
    Posted Sunday, June 16 2002 at 1457 h MDT
    Paul Z. just reported to the D&RGW list, "DS just called an eastbound train to be ready with fire extinguishers at mile post 36 where "civilians" are fighting a fire with shovels. Trins is supposed to help out as much as they can. This would be just to the east of Pinecliff near tunnel 29. DS has called crews in the area, probably high railers, to help out also and called emergency numbers. No idea if it is big or small, but it is reported to be right along the tracks." Hope this isn't the start of another one - it's been a big enough fire season already. Update (6/16 - 1506h): Should learn not to post news so fast - current report is that Gilpin County firefighters had the thing out by 1450h. The only thing the crew of the eastbound (UP 6748) could do to help was offer the fire crew some water. - NDHolmes

  • CUMBRES & TOLTEC BITS
    Posted Thursday, June 13 2002 at 1650 h MDT
    For those that forgot, there is/was a mixed (passenger and freight cars) scheduled to run next weekend, 22-Jun-2002. Obviously with the USFS keeping the railroad shut down at the moment, there's a great deal of uncertainty if this will happen or not. If it does, expect coverage here. Also, there's rumors of a photo-freight over the C&TS in late October I've seen elsewhere. Also, while poking around the web here at work, I just found photos of the work done on the two roadbed defects that the FRA found. One at MP 316.2 and the other at Martinez Point (MP 319ish). Most of these bits are from the unofficial www.cumbres-toltec.info site. Also, in an unrelated note, I'll be on Saturday's Ski Train as a guest of Kevin Morgan. If anyone else happens to be around, stop by cars 1-2 and say hello. - NDHolmes

  • UP PASSENGER SPECIAL UPDATE
    Posted Thursday, June 13 2002 at 0925 h MDT
    The train, with two SD70Ms (4926 and 4389) and all sixteen cars, passed Springville, UT, this morning at 0735h, just about on schedule if not a bit early. The schedule posted yesterday has been verified as close to correct. Good luck to anyone out there trying to catch it today, and if you do I'd always appreciate a news photo or two for the website. Since I realized I'd shoved the schedule off the front page, I thought I'd repost it. The UP Shipper's Special running from Salt Lake City back to Denver today (13-Jun-2002). It's scheduled to leave SLC at 0500h on 13-Jun-2002 and run straight through to Denver, arriving around 2300h. Midpoint estimates: Provo 0745h, Grand Junction 1400h, Bond 1845h. The next morning, 14-Jun-2002, it will depart Denver between 0700h-0800h, head up to Cheyenne, and turn east to Council Bluffs, IA. - NDHolmes

  • UP RENUMBERS 5096 (ex-DRGW 5502) TO 9846
    Posted Wednesday, June 12 2002 at 1342 h MDT
    Sometime in the last day, UP has renumbered UP 5096 (a patch job on DRGW 5502) to 9846 at Proviso, IL. This is most likely just another patching, as I don't believe Proviso has a full paint facility. The five lowest-numbered DRGW SD50s (UP 5095-5099) are being renumbered into the 98xx block to make room for the next order of SD70Ms, to be numbered UP 5000-UP 5099. - NDHolmes

  • SUMMER SKI TRAIN STARTS SATURDAY
    Posted Wednesday, June 12 2002 at 1121 h MDT
    The Ski Train will begin its summer season on 15-June-2002, running on Saturdays only. The current schedule is to leave Denver Union Terminal at 0815h, arrive Winter Park at 1030h, depart Winter Park at 1515h, and arrive back at DUT somewhere around 1730h. As usual, coach tickets are $45/adults, $25/children and club car seats are $70. See the Summer Ski Train page to make reservations, view the activities offered at WP, etc. As a side note, the two GP60s are still around, so there's some chance of seeing black and gold on the front again. - NDHolmes

  • COLORADO UPDATES
    Posted Wednesday, June 12 2002 at 1025 h MDT
    The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic remains shut down due to the extreme fire dangers here in Colorado, but the Durango & Silverton remains open for business for those narrow gauge enthusiasts already planning trips to Colorado this year. The USFS and C&TS are supposed to reconsider this closure on June 17, but I wouldn't hold out for a reopening. However, with their track problems and now shortened season, I strongly encourage those who can to go down and ride the C&TS when it reopens - I'm certainly planning on it. Its those dollars that keep it alive, and this is going to be a tough season. Better yet, join the Friends of the C&TS and support them that way. Also, don't forget the UP Shipper's Special running from Salt Lake City back to Denver tomorrow. It's scheduled to leave SLC at 0500h on 13-Jun-2002 and run straight through to Denver, arriving around 2300h. Midpoint estimates: Provo 0745h, Grand Junction 1400h, Bond 1845h. The next morning, 14-Jun-2002, it will depart Denver between 0700h-0800h, head up to Cheyenne, and turn east to Council Bluffs, IA. - NDHolmes

  • UP SPECIAL ON THE MOFFAT TODAY
    Posted Monday, June 10 2002 at 1408 h MDT
    UP will be running a passenger special over the Moffat line today, departing Denver at 1400h (about 5 minutes ago, 10-Jun-2002). The train is supposed to be an Energy Customer special, taking big shippers to Salt Lake City and then back to Denver. The train is lead by UP SD70M 4926, and consists of 16 passenger cars. Supposedly it will be returning to Denver sometime on the 14th. Thanks to Joe M. for posting this bit to the D&RGW list. - NDHolmes

  • GLENWOOD UPDATE
    Posted Saturday, June 8 2002 at 2318 h MDT
    Since there isn't much information out there right now, I'll try to piece together what I've learned from posts to the D&RGW list and from the major media outlets. The only main story out there right now seems to be the AP version, seen here in the Rocky Mountain News. The fire jumped I-70 near the West Glenwood switch sometime around 1700h this afternoon (8-Jun), and a sheriff's deputy reported that the railroad tracks were on fire. Apparently the explosion of a propane tank was also heard, which could be the switch heater at WGlen. A local radio station reported that, "the mall and community center is not burning, yet, as had been rumored." Multiple structures, including residences, are reported on fire, however. So far no fatalities have been reported. I-70 is now closed from Rifle to Wolcott. UP Dispatcher 80 was reported talking to a signal gang and thinking that the first trains would be allowed through tomorrow morning, pending the fire had moved on and the damage wasn't severe. I wish it were under better circumstances that I got to play with my news management system, but my thoughts are with those who have lost or, almost worse, have been evacuated on short notice and just don't know. - NDHolmes

  • FIRES CLOSE C&TS, UP MAIN TODAY
    Posted Saturday, June 8 2002 at 1649 h MDT
    Bruce C. just reported to the D&RGW list that due to extreme fire danger concerns by the United States Forest Service, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic has been shut down until further notice. See this story for more details. Also, Union Pacific's Glenwood Springs Sub has been placed out of service between West Glenwood Springs, CO, and East Chacra, CO, due to a forest fire burning in South Canon. Bruce notes that Amtrak number 5, the westbound California Zephyr, will be held at Glenwood until things clear up. Update (6/8 - 2228h): It isn't looking good - Bruce just posted another note to Trainorders noting that the fire has jumped the river and West Glenwood is being evacuated. Apparently the fire has already burned several structures in W. Glenwood, in addition to severing the mainline. UP pulled off some coal train power to drag Amtrak 5 back into the canyon, away from Glenwood. More as it comes in. - NDHolmes

  • DRGW 3121 RETURNS TO COLO SPRGS
    Posted Sunday, June 2 2002 at 1503 h MDT
    For the first time again in several months, Colorado Springs gets a Rio Grande back as its local power. DRGW 3121 arrived on 28-May-2002, and should be staying for a while unless something unforseen happens. Updated (6/3 - 1610h): I really meant 3121, not 3128 as the story originally read. Thanks to Bill M. for pointing this out. - NDHolmes

  • TWO WEEKS OF CATCH-UP - PART 2
    Posted Saturday, June 1 2002 at 1148 h MDT
    On the D&RGW preservation front, Dave Schaaf provided several photos of 3011's current condition that Paul Birkholz posted on MWR. For those who missed it, 3011 is the GP30 that Omnitrax will be donating to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. Seen here are photos of the side, rear, cab, and looking down on the front. Thanks to everyone working on 3011's preservation. In other news, Dave Abeles let us know several weeks back that the RGMHS's initial efforts to preserve a tunnel motor have failed. He wrote to the list, "UP will NOT donate a Rio Grande SD40T-2 to our cause. Mr. Bromley wrote that while UP understands our interest in preserving them, locomotives are assets and must be disposed of to maximize value for the railroad. Also, although 2 SP units were donated, this was an exception to UP's policy, and no locomotives will be donated in the forseeable future. (...) NOW, though, is the time that I need the support of all the listers. I need to think about the next angle, and I will keep everyone updated as things develop. We'll start with a cordial, professional letter back to Mr. Bromley because that is undoubtedly the best next step." Not good news, but there are still other avenues to pursue in trying to save one. After all, there's still quite a few left in good running condition, and very few of the fleet have been truly scrapped. The most interesting tidbit that's crossed the list lately was that someone passed along word from a friend in Helper, "UP has agreed not to repaint or scrap the T2's they have in Helper as long as the guys can keep them running." Definite good news - get out see them soon. There are, after all, only 7 remaining full-DRGW paint T-2s. For those who won't get the chance, Kevin Morgan was recently out to Helper, and has new photos on his website of the four in action. Hopefully I'll be able to make it out there in the next month or so as well. - NDHolmes

  • TWO WEEKS OF CATCH-UP - PART 1
    Posted Saturday, June 1 2002 at 1133 h MDT
    Recapping the last two weeks of Rio Grande news... The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic has suffered a rather unfortunate FRA-mandated closure of two sections of track near Osier, severing the main line just as the tourist season is starting here in Colorado. Last I heard, the problems have been repaired and the FRA has been called back for re-inspection, so things should be back to normal soon. UP has begun rebuilding and extending Yarmony (the west switch was wiped out in a derailment). The word is it will be around 7700 feet when completed (thanks to a post from UP78257 on the DRGW list). From the renumbering department - ex-DRGW 5505, ex-UP5099 was renumbered on 29-May-2002 to UP 9848 to make room for the next batch of new EMD SD70Ms (to be numbered 5000-5100). (Thanks to Jim H. for that one) Once again, I'm about two weeks behind on news, but I'm home for a few months now - honest. :) In other non-DRGW news, my latest trip report detailing where I've been hiding for all of May - Florida and Alaska - should be up this weekend. - NDHolmes

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