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  • SOUTHBOUND BNSF PASSENGER SPECIAL
    Posted Tuesday, August 29 2006 at 1024 h MDT
    The Joint Line Cam just caught a southbound BNSF passenger special at Monument around 10:03 on Tuesday, 29-Aug-2006. No idea where it's headed, but it's an old BN unit pulling two passenger cars. See a photo of it [here]. Update (Aug 29 - 16:24): The train apparently turned around and headed north again. It was again past Monument at 14:53 this afternoon, as you can see [here]. - NDHolmes

  • RAILFEST 2006 TRIP REPORT
    Posted Monday, August 28 2006 at 2202 h MDT
    Last week was Railfest 2006 down on the Durango & Silverton. The highlight of this year was K-28 473, which was repainted by the D&S into the very eye-catching "Bumblebee" scheme that it wore in the 1950s. The 473, along with RGS Goose 5, made for some interesting photography, despite the clouds, rain, and generally cold weather throughout the later part of the week, it was still an incredible show of narrow gauge equipment. I was able to make it down there again this year, and I've posted my photos from the trip in a new trip report [here]. - NDHolmes

  • D&RGW 473 IN BUMBLEBEE PAINT
    Posted Thursday, August 24 2006 at 1759 h MDT
    As part of the festivities for the Durango & Silverton's Railfest 2006, ex-D&RGW K-28 #473 was repainted into the famous gold and black "Bumblebee" paint scheme that it wore in the 1950s. Its first run in that paint was on Thursday's mixed freight. The train left Durango around 1445h, and will run up to Cascade, back to Rockwood for an evening photo shoot, and then back to Durango late in the evening. For photos of 473 in this unique scheme, I've posted a few first photos [here]. Rest assured, when I get home from Railfest, there will be a full trip report - I just figured folks might like to see the new paint as soon as possible. - NDHolmes

  • DRGW 5371 ESCAPES THE PATCH AGAIN
    Posted Friday, August 18 2006 at 1048 h MDT
    The last tunnel motor - D&RGW 5371 - is back, safe and sound, in Helper, UT, this morning. It came due for its 92-day inspection and was shipped to Roper a couple days ago. Having escaped patching on previous visits, tt was expected that this time, it would receive the yellow blight and the DRGW locomotive fleet would fade into history. However, this morning's trace reveals that 5371's guardian angel came through again, and the unit is back to work in Helper and probably good for another three months. - NDHolmes

  • LOOP CLOSE TO REOPENING
    Posted Wednesday, August 16 2006 at 2039 h MDT
    Per a post by Railstar's Steve Torrico on [NGDF] this afternoon, the Georgetown Loop's C&S #9 passed its boiler inspection today. As you'll recall, 9 was down to allow for the repair of a few broken staybolts when #12 broke an axle last week. I wasn't aware of this, but apparently they were providing interim service with their small diesel (#21) from Wednesday, 9-Aug-2006, through Sunday, 13-Aug-2006, when the diesel fried one of its traction motors and service again stopped. They're hoping to be back up and running under steam by Friday. - NDHolmes

  • NEXT CO RAILFAN MEET - PLAINVIEW ON 27-AUG
    Posted Wednesday, August 16 2006 at 2031 h MDT
    Mike Keithly and Lee Ryan asked me to help let everyone know that they've got the next informal Colorado railfan get-together set up for Sunday, 27-Aug-2006. Rather than the usual location of the park at Palmer Lake, they're going to try something different this time - the open space near Plainview on the Moffat. All the details about the event can be found in their flyer, posted [here]. - NDHolmes

  • NEW SL&RG AND CC&RG EQUIPMENT
    Posted Saturday, August 12 2006 at 1806 h MDT
    The Canon City & Royal Gorge has acquired a fourth ex-Holland America dome car from Alaska - HALX 553, Kashwitna. The full length dome car was built as Santa Fe 553 by Budd, and has also been Auto Train 515 and Susquehanna 502 according to the North East Rails Budd & Pullman Full Dome page. As of this morning, Saturday, 12-Aug-2006, the car was in Pueblo awaiting delivery to the CC&RG. Interchange is supposed to happen on Monday, with a special train moving it back to Canon City. Nathan Zachman caught the car in Pueblo, and you can see his photos [here] and [here].

    In other CC&RG news, NZ also mentioned that they're getting ex-Alaska Railroad F7B 1503. The unit is currently on a barge on the way down from Alaska. John Combs' excellent [Alaskarails.org] site has photos taken by Mark Earnest of the unit's final journey in Alaska - to the barge slip at Whittier.

    The other bit of passenger train news from southern Colorado is the long-anticipated arrival of an EMD F unit for the San Luis & Rio Grande's passenger operations. Railfan & Railroad reported several months back that the SL&RG was supposed to get two FP10s - 1100 and 1114. (An FP10 is an F unit, usually an F3A of GM&O heritage, that was extensively rebuilt by ICG in 1979 for commuter service with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, MBTA.) Today, the first of those two was spotted in Pueblo, again by Nathan Zachman. I've added his photos of it in the UP yard to [this page].
    -
    NDHolmes

  • JOINT LINE CAMERA UPGRADE
    Posted Thursday, August 10 2006 at 2301 h MDT
    The Joint Line camera has been upgraded from an old D-Link DCS-2000 to a nearly new Axis 210. The most immediate benefit is a much better picture with a 640x480 image, rather than the old 320x240. You'll no longer need to guess at exactly what kind of unit is represented by the blob in the image. I was hoping you'd be able to read numbers on the new camera, but alas, it's just not that good.

    You can see the results of the new camera on the Joint Line Cam page on DRGW.Net, or otherwise, to see live video, see our camera host Rob Beyer's site [here]. Update (8/11 - 0930h): The first train captured yesterday afternoon was a southbound BNSF coal load, headed by two SD70MACs in H2. See the first train photo [here]. -
    NDHolmes

  • GEORGETOWN LOOP STEAMERS DOWN
    Posted Tuesday, August 8 2006 at 2140 h MDT
    Exceptionally bad luck has descended upon the Georgetown Loop in the last few days. Yesterday, their Hawaiian 2-6-0, #12, suffered a broken driver axle on the conductor's side, right between the frame/bearing and the wheel. Thankfully, no one was injured and I'm told that there was no serious damage to the locomotive, beyond the axle and minor side-rod damage. Also, their other steamer - #9, the newly (and beautifully) restored ex-C&S 2-6-0 - is apparently experiencing a few teething pains and is also out of service in the Silver Plume shops.

    Matt & Wayne Darling were on their way back west yesterday when they noticed something was amiss. They stopped, inquired, and learned of #12's broken axle, as well as of #9 having suffered a few broken staybolts. They sent a few photos of #9, as well as the rescue effort by GLR diesel #21 get #12 moving up the hill towards the shops. Eventually, apparently after they left, the crews got 12 moving, only to have the diesel derail in one of the cuts. Based on a post on NGDF, it sounds they did manage to get the two up to Silver Plume, and repairs will start immediately. Photos from Matt and Wayne can be found [here].

    Steve Torrico of Railstar, the company now operating the Loop under contract from the CHS, has posted photos of the axle break in threads on both The Goat and the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum. I wish the Railstar crews the best in getting both locomotives back to work. They've worked unbelievably hard to make a go of a very difficult situation over the past two years, and have done a remarkable job of it. Here's to hoping you're running again soon!
    -
    NDHolmes

  • D&S RAILFEST IN TWO WEEKS
    Posted Monday, August 7 2006 at 2329 h MDT
    As a reminder, the Durango & Silverton's annual Railfest activities begin in a little over two weeks. Goose 5 will be making trips again this year, and we'll again see a special photo mixed. A complete list of events, as well as prices and other information, can be found on the D&S's website [here].

    The special paint scheme this year will be a return of 473 to the gold "bumblebee" paint scheme. (As a note, there was a thread on [NGDF] last Friday saying that it might be K-36 #480 instead, but I haven't seen any confirmation of this.) No matter what winds up getting painted, I'll be there, so look back here for coverage. -
    NDHolmes

  • BNSF PASSENGER SPECIAL NORTH ON J/L
    Posted Monday, August 7 2006 at 2310 h MDT
    Yesterday (Monday, 7-Aug-2006), BNSF ran a passenger special northbound on the Joint Line - officially O-TOPGIL-6. Nathan Zachman got a heads up on its travels, and managed to catch it downtown Colorado Springs ([photo]). I know the report is a bit late to help anybody catch it, but I figure I'll at least report it happened... - NDHolmes

  • JOINT LINE ALERT - UP 1989 IN DAYLIGHT
    Posted Sunday, August 6 2006 at 1041 h MDT
    For those who want to see UP 1989, the DRGW Heritage Unit, run in daylight but have been frustrated by it running on the nightly MNYPU and MPUNY trains, today's your opportunity. It looks like 1989 and the southbound MNYPU pulled into the Monument siding around 0830h this morning, and haven't left yet (1040h). So, it should go through Colorado Springs and on into Pueblo in daylight! Update (8/6 - 1405h): Photos from this morning's quick chase are posted [here] - NDHolmes

  • NEW TRIP REPORT - ALPINE TUNNEL
    Posted Sunday, August 6 2006 at 0156 h MDT
    Two weeks ago, I headed out to drive the Rio Grande's old grade over Marshall Pass. It's not very far, and by a little after noon, I was already on the west side in Sargents. So, I figured I'd got check out the route that Marshall Pass was intended to compete with - the Denver, South Park & Pacific's Alpine Tunnel.

    The Alpine Tunnel was the first tunnel under the Continental Divide, and having been built through unstable ground at 11,600 ft, was plagued with problems its whole short life. Put into service in 1881, it only survived for 29 years before the last train went through in 1910. Even a good portion of those 29 years were spent shut down due to either weather or economic conditions.

    Today, the tunnel itself is inaccessible, since both portals have collapsed. There's still a great deal to be seen on the approach, however - water tanks, cuts, ledges built with hand-fit stone, abandoned townsides, and the occasional track remnant sticking out of the ground. The west side starts at Quartz, about three miles beyond Pitkin, CO. What lies beyond are 10 miles of appallingly rough road, climbing along the old grade for some 2000 feet to reach a hole in the very backbone of the Rockies. At the top, much of the Alpine Tunnel Station area is being restored or reconstructed, and there's a lot to see. To see for yourself, you can either bounce all the way up there (highly recommended), or just start off reading the latest [trip report]. -
    NDHolmes

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