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    Posted Wednesday, October 28 2009 at 1948 h MDT
    Last fall, the Durango Railroad Historical Society and the San Juan County Historical Society announced that the 1912 Silverton Northern engine house in Silverton would be converted back to its original purpose and act as the new home for D&RGW 315. That would give 315 safe indoor storage connected to the rail system, while dealing with liability and space concerns with storing 315 on D&S property. A large part of that project would be the relaying of a small portion of the Silverton Northern trackage down Cement Street, along with rebuilding the track around and pits inside of the engine house.

    The proverbial i's have been dotted and t's crossed, and work is finally proceeding on the nearly quarter million dollar project. Surveying and grading has been underway outside in preparation for track, and work is being done inside the engine house to rebuild the beams around the pits and get rails back down in the floor. D&RGW 315 will be wintering in Chama this year, giving crews ample space to do their work.

    Fritz Klinke of Silverton has been posting photo updates of the work. His shots can be found on his Flickr site:


    Posted Wednesday, October 28 2009 at 1924 h MDT
    The last K-27 in Colorado - D&RGW 463 - has been sidelined since 2002 on account of its flue time running out. Rebuilding efforts on the C&TS have focused on the K-36 fleet, since these engines are the mainstay of the summer tourist train business. However, with four operational K-36s now available, the little K-27 is finally receiving some work.

    The boiler work will not be done on the C&TS, but rather at a contract shop in Alabama. In September, the boiler was separated from the frame. Roger Hogan has posted photos of that part of the job [here]. Yesterday (Tuesday, 27-Oct-2009), the boiler was loaded on one of Soni Honegger's trucks for transport. Pictures of the loading can be found in two threads on the Goat [here] and [here]. According to one of Jay's followups, Soni and the boiler were supposed to be leaving tonight (Wednesday, 28-Oct-2009).

    Meanwhile, with boiler repairs underway elsewhere, the Chama shop crews will work on the rebuilding 463's running gear, along with the annual winter maintenance on the 36s. The boiler is expected to be back by April 2010, and so - resources permitting - we should likely see the K-27 return to D&RGW rails by late next summer.

    Posted Wednesday, October 28 2009 at 1641 h MDT
    The Cumbres & Toltec has announced that they'll be running a "Winter Photographers' Plow Extra" on Friday, 4-Dec-2009. It won't just be running for the photographers - this train will actually be clearing the line for the Chama Cinder Bear Christmas Express, which runs the next day.

    It unfortunately won't be a rotary, but seeing one of the K-36s out clearing the line will be rare enough. While the D&S has been running their Winter Photo Specials for a number of years now, this is the first time in a great while that the C&TS has offered a winter photo trip. The C&TS website states that it'll be a K-36, two coaches, an open gon, and "new" caboose 05635. The cost is $275 for coach or $325 for the caboose.

    Full details for those interested can be found [on the C&TS official website]. -

  • SLRG 459-227 ON THE MOVE
    Posted Sunday, October 25 2009 at 0909 h MDT
    Ken Gentzke captured SLRG mother-slug set 459/227 moving west through Rochester, NY, on what was speculated to be Q381 on Saturday morning (24-Oct-2009). A couple of grab shots are posted in [this Trainorders.com thread]. Heads up to points west - if anybody captures them moving, please send pictures.

    That's just my luck - was going to run up through Dansville, NY, today to photograph them on my way to Pittsburgh. Oh well, maybe I'll get 245 at least. -

    Posted Tuesday, October 20 2009 at 2330 h MDT
    Last spring, a Colorado tradition came to an end when the Anschutz Company sold the famous Ski Train. A Rio Grande tradition started in 1940, the Ski Train ran 69 consecutive seasons between Denver and the slopes above Winter Park.

    Never tremendously profitable (if at all), the latest incarnation was sold to Canadian National last spring. The trainset is now in service on their former Algoma Central line. Most of us assumed that was the end - the Ski Train would be no more.

    Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC - the parent company of the San Luis & Rio Grande - has stepped forward with a viable proposal to revive the Ski Train for the 2009-2010 season. the plan, initially made public on 18-Sep-2008 in [this Denver Post article], proposes a 26-Dec-2009 through 28-Mar-2010 season. Trains would consist of SLRG equipment (presumably the domes and the Kawasaki car) and be operated by Amtrak. Union Pacific has already [given their approval] to the plan, and apparently all that's left is working out the details with Amtrak. -

    Posted Tuesday, October 20 2009 at 2259 h MDT
    The San Luis & Rio Grande has acquired three ex-Balfour Beatty six axle EMDs, numbered 201-203. The first two - SD40R #201 (ex-SP 8452, nee SP 7343) and SD40-2 (ex-UP 3693) - were delivered to the line around the 10th of September. SLRG 203 (ex-DRGW 5373) followed a few weeks later, around the 26th of September. Photos of the new acquisitions can be seen in their newly-created roster pages: [202] and [203].

    Note that no other prior owner regularly operated six axle diesels over La Veta Pass, so these are likely the biggest diesels to operate on the line. (I have seen pictures of a D&RGW SD45 that slipped into Alamosa one day by accident, so it did happen.) However, the Grande operated
    L-131s over the hill routinely, and they were heavier, longer, had a higher driver axle loading (70,000 lbs vs. 64,300 lbs for the SD40 variants) and a similar rigid wheelbase (a bit shy of 17' vs. approximately 14' for the EMD HT-C and Flexicoil C). For that matter, SLRG steamers 18 & 1744 probably have longer rigid wheelbases, though I don't have the specifications handy. So, these won't be the "largest" engines to ever run on La Veta, but six axle diesels are something new to the line.

    In other SLRG motive power news, three road slugs are being constructed by American Motive Power of Dansville, NY. The three are being constructed from F40PH shells (227, 245, and an unknown third). At least one of the power units will be one of the SLRG's F40M-2Fs, as AMP has given SLRG 459 a fresh SLRG maroon paint and mated it to 227. Photos can been seen [here] and [here]

    Beyond motive power, the SLRG has also acquired another very unusual passenger car for its fleet - RPCX 3009, one of five prototype C-1 class bi-level cars built for the Long Island Railroad by Mitsui Tokyu Car of Japan in 1991. It's actually two separate cars, permanently joined with a drawbar in the middle. The car came on the property in late April 2009, and is used for events with large attendance (such as the Mountain Music concerts), as it can seat nearly 400. Photos can be found [here]. -

    Posted Monday, October 19 2009 at 2214 h MDT
    If you can read this, you're connecting to DRGW.Net's new, faster home. I know there are some things still broken - namely the Joint Line CTC display and the Joint Line camera - but everything else should be mostly working. Please let me know if you find problems by email at maverick@drgw.net. - NDHolmes

    Posted Friday, October 9 2009 at 1148 h MDT
    I know, you're thinking - where's Nathan? Has the site gone dead? Why haven't we seen any updates in months?

    The honest answer is that my life has just been too crazy most of the last year. Six months of 60-70 hour weeks at work, traveling all the time both for personal and work reasons, still not dealing well with being single again, having to help friends who are also going through rough spots in their lives, and so on... In an effort to preserve my sanity and lower my stress level, I started dropping things that weren't absolutely critical. Unfortunately, updates to the website was a casualty, and so has responding to email in a timely manner.

    It's going to take some work to get things cycled up again. The link that holds it to the internet seems to have problems - particularly in wet weather - that Qwest just can't find and fix. The UPS that keeps the server powered up fried while I was in Dallas a month ago, so whenever the power blinks, down goes the box. Plus, until I ignored the site for about six months, our bandwidth usage was growing to the point that it needs to go somewhere faster.

    We have rather unique needs for hosting. The whole site, as it stands now, is somewhere around 30GB and about 56,000 or so files, small to large. I've got about another 15-20GB of material nearly ready to go. It doesn't take a lot of CPU time, but some of the stuff I've done on the backend just doesn't lend itself to standard (read: cheap) shared hosting. Nor does VPS really work well, due to the usually limited amount of disk provided. Pretty much we've always lived on a dedicated server, and I'd have a hard time putting myself back on a hosted account.

    The Joint Line camera (the second one now) suffered a failure a couple months back. At $400 a pop, I just don't have the budget right now to replace it. Plus, it's current location at Rob's is rapidly being obscured by trees and construction on his neighbor's house. Since it looks like the imager went out on this one and the processor board went out on the first one, I'm hoping they can be combined into a single working unit, but I'm not overly optimistic. Maybe by Christmas I'll have something up and running again. The ATCS server was held up by the same UPS that got fried, but it'll be back shortly.

    Now, the good news. Things are starting to level out at work. After four years of redesigning some very core business components at work - doing what my boss described as a skeleton transplant on a runner during a marathon - I'm finally about done. The thing works, and by January will be loaded everywhere.

    I've still been out shooting and amassing old paper, negatives, and so on. Full coverage of the 315 trips, E&P 4 at Railfest, riding the Creede Branch, and so on is coming. I've got several hundred new medium format negatives of various Grande power to scan and post, as well as a good number of slides I've gotten permission from various photographers to use. I'm going to move everything to a leased server in a datacenter in Dallas shortly, meaning failures at my house while I'm traveling won't kill the site (and it'll be many, many, many times faster for those of you on fast connections).

    So, bear with me, but things should start to cycle up again over the next month or two. I'm hoping the server move will take place in a week or two, so there may be a bit of disruption there. -

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