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    Posted Monday, November 30 2009 at 1131 h MST
    Back in July 2007, rare D&RGW narrow gauge long caboose 04990 was torched by a couple of hoodlums in Boulder. Fortunately, the Boulder Country Railway Historical Society quickly stepped in to stabilize the charred remains, and moved the caboose to their storage area outside of town.

    An agreement between the Boulder Country Railway Historical Society and the City of Boulder (who owns the caboose) was forged back in April of this year, and restoration work started the following weekend. Photos of the work in progress can be found in these posts: [11-Jul-2009] and [19-Sep-2009]. Jason Midyette reported on NGDF yesterday that the restoration is nearly complete, lacking only lettering and minor details at this point. Photos of the repaired caboose as of last weekend can be found [here].

    Now, given Boulder's track record of destroying two priceless Rio Grande cabooses due to arsons/bombings in the same park, hopefully somebody in town will get smarter and either secure their artifacts, or put them on long-term loan somewhere safer (such as in the Colorado Railroad Museum or the Durango Rail Historical Society collection). -

    Posted Monday, November 30 2009 at 1103 h MST
    Iowa Pacific recently picked up four more ex-Holland America full length domes from Alaska. The cars are SLRG 508, 512, 513, and 1394. 508-513 are, like the other SLRG domes, ex-Santa Fe cars built by Budd. 1394 is the oddball, being an ex-Great Northern car. All four arrived from storage in Alaska by barge about a week ago (23-24 Nov 2009).

    According to a post on Trainorders by "PirateRail" - who seems to be charged with escorting these cars and other SLRG car moves - SLRG 513 won't be headed for Colorado. It'll be sent to the Mount Hood Scenic at Hood River, OR. Likewise, SLRG 1394 will apparently be sent to the Portland Peninsula Terminal Railroad. (Which does beg the question: What is a terminal railroad going to do with a dome car? Update 11/30 - 1800h: John Black emailed me that the PTRR does car repair, and that he's seen Superliners there before. It's possible that 1394 needs some work before making its way east to Colorado.)

    The remaining two - SLRG 508 and 512 - are bound for Colorado for Ski Train use. They've been slowly working their way east via the UP. As of early this morning, they were on the back of MHKRO-30 from Hinkle, OR, to Roper Yard (the ex-D&RGW Salt Lake facility). Reported out of Hinkle at 0230h, and passed La Grande, OR, at 0750h. From Roper, they're scheduled to come east across the Grande to Denver and then down the Joint Line to the SLRG at Walsenburg for Ski Train prep work.

    In other SLRG-related passenger car car news, the NBCX 101 "Blue Ridge" has been moved from Jacksonville, FL, to Alamosa, CO. It's a heavyweight, open-end observation car currently painted solid blue that's reported to have been built in 1904. Other than that, I don't have any history on it, or an information on its intended use.

    Thanks to "PirateRail" on Trainorders.com for keeping us apprised of these car movements.

    Also, pictures have popped up of the two SLRG SD9043MACs on the move. It's unknown when they left Paducah, but there are photos of the set at Coulterville, IL, on 28-Nov-2009. See them [here] on RRPictureArchives.net. -

    Posted Sunday, November 15 2009 at 1749 h MST
    The new Iowa Pacific-run Rio Grande Scenic Ski Train now has a website up and running, complete with operating schedule and fares. Take a look at [the new site].

    The quick summary is that there are three classes of service: coach, club, and dome. Regular fares, scheduled at least a week in advance, are $44, $74, and $94 respectively for the three classes. If you're last minute (within seven days of departure), add five bucks to each. In addition, they're offering a $34 "Early Bird" coach fare for those booking before Christmas Eve (24-Dec-2009) and riding before 7-Feb-2010. For those Ski Train regulars, there's a discount 10-ride coach ticket for $290, and a season pass for $600. Note that none of these include lift tickets, but they do have a combo offer on that as well right now.

    The train will depart Denver for Winter Park at 0700h, arriving at 0915h. The return trip will then depart at 1615h, arriving back in Denver at 1830h. Service will start on Sunday, 26-Dec-2009, and run through 28-Mar-2010. Check the calendars at the bottom of the [Fares] page for details.

    For those wanting to see what the inside of the new equipment looks like, be sure to check out the page entitled [See the New Train].

    The website notes that the contracts to operate the new Ski Train are still being finalized, but reservations are currently available by phone by calling 1-877-726-RAIL. Also, the website makes a note that if for some reason the things do not come together and the train does not run, all ticket reservations are fully refundable. -

    Posted Sunday, November 15 2009 at 1655 h MST
    I loathe mornings. I really do. They're only slightly more fun to me than a sharp stick in the eye or trips to the dentist. If it weren't for coffee and other caffeinated liquids, I'd be useless before noon. So when I saw that UP 1988 (the Katy heritage SD70ACe) and SDVDH-15 were called out of Denver this morning at 0600h, I figured I'd rather just sleep in. Given the snow and ice covered roads (combined with Colorado's other awesome drivers), cloud cover preventing decent light, and a train that would be through town before my alarm went off, I thought I'd just skip it.

    Around 1000h, while poking at my coffee maker in a vain attempt to achieve consciousness, my phone went off. Nathan Z. and Kevin were up on top the hill at Palmer Lake, and the special hadn't yet made it. Apparently the snowstorm had iced a bunch of switches and caused signal problems, delaying the run the whole way.

    Long story short, I had the chance to shoot a very late special and the MKT unit's first visit to Colorado, so I threw on some clothes and headed out. I wound up throwing in with Nathan Z and Kevin and chasing the special all the way down to east of Pueblo Junction.

    Anyway, now for the part you're all looking for - pictures! They're all posted [here]. -

    Posted Saturday, November 14 2009 at 1809 h MST
    UP 1988, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (aka, Katy) heritage SD70ACe will be making a trip down the Joint Line on Sunday, 15-Nov-2009, traveling from Denver, CO, to Dalhart, TX. It's on the point of a UP passenger special, consisting of UP 1988 and ten pieces of UP varnish. Departure times have been insanely early so far this trip, usually around 0600h, so my guess is that they'll be out of Denver before any real light is available. Plus, the weather's not supposed to be terribly hospitable along the Front Range tomorrow, so if you're out, be careful. - NDHolmes

    Posted Thursday, November 12 2009 at 1454 h MST
    Two of Chama's most iconic structures have been desperately in need of new roofing as of late. The good news is that as of late September, money was flowing and work got underway.

    The coaling tower was in particularly dire shape, and was undertaken first. The job was started around the third week of September and basically completed by the end of the month, and involved completely replacing both the lower and upper roof segments. Roger Hogan has photos of the process posted [here] and [here], and photos of the completed results [here].

    Work on the depot roof - also leaky and long overdue for rebuilding - started in late October / early November. Take a look [here] for some "before" shots (it's the same link as for the "after" shots of the coaling tower roof). The depot roof is being rebuilt with Watkins cedar shingles that have been treated with a fire retardant compound. Jay and Roger have both captured the depot roof in various states of progress: [5-Nov-2009 (Roger)], [6-Nov-2009 (Jay)], [8-Nov-2009 (Jay)], [9-Nov-2009 (Jay)], and [11-Nov-2009 (Jay)].

    Both jobs were done by John Beaver, a local Chama contractor. -

    Posted Thursday, November 12 2009 at 1406 h MST
    Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific Holdings, sent me a couple photos last night that many of you might find interesting. Turns out, the rumor's true - there is an SD90MAC43 (or SD9043MAC, or SD90/43MAC, depending on your nomenclature choice) painted in SLRG colors for Ski Train power - SLRG 116. The engine was built in late 1999 as lease unit CEFX 116 (serial 986927-17). [Click here] for a picture of it at Paducah, KY, in fresh SLRG paint.

    As if new power for the reincarnation of the Ski Train wasn't exciting enough, Mr. Ellis included one other interesting photo. Anybody remember RPCX/SLRG 1100, the FP10 rebuild that was on the SLRG for some time? If you don't remember, [click here] for a few photos of it. They had another as well - SLRG 1114 - but it never made it to Colorado. Both were last reported going to Relco in Albia, IA.

    Well, if you want to see what 1100 looks like now, [take a look at this...]. This beauty will be used on the West Texas & Lubbock's [Polar Express] trains, and come to the SLRG next summer. (At least I think it's 1100 - it was in better shape, and the details line up better, though clearly much work has been done to it.) Sorry, everybody, but the note was also clear that it won't be seeing service on the Ski Train - that's the domain of the new 90s.

    As usual, a huge thanks to Mr. Ed Ellis of Iowa Pacific for providing these updates. -

    Posted Wednesday, November 11 2009 at 1515 h MST
    The mother-slug set (SLRG 459-227) has arrived in Pueblo. It came in Tuesday morning on the MNYPU, and is still sitting there as of Wednesday morning. Most likely they'll move it to the SLRG interchange in Walsenburg in the next day or two.

    HLCX 1000, the ex-UP GP38M-3 (built as an SAL/SCL/SBD/CSXT GP40), is reported headed off the SLRG to the West Texas & Lubbock, a sister Iowa Pacific line. Reported by Don G in this Trainorders.com thread.

    There are pretty solid rumors floating around of an ex-CITX SD9043MAC at VMV Paducah in SLRG paint. Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific, has already confirmed via NGDF back in August that these were the intended power for the new Ski Train. (See [this thread]. No pictures of the aforementioned critter have yet surfaced.

    Also, the Arizona Eastern, another sister road of the SLRG under Iowa Pacific, is apparently receiving a pair of BL2s. The units would be originally Bangor & Aroostook 52 and 56, both having worked most recently on the Janesville & Southeastern. The pair are apparently waybilled to the AZER in Lordsburg, NM. (No, I have no idea what they're up to this time, and I haven't gotten a chance to ask yet. The only guess I have is that they'll be power for the excursion trains out of Globe.) -

    Posted Wednesday, November 11 2009 at 1025 h MST
    For the first time in about 70 years, the Silverton Northern grade once again has rails on it intended to bear the weight of trains. On Friday, 6-Nov-2009, crews began laying track on the new grade along Cement Street in Silverton. On Monday, 9-Nov-2009, the switch was installed for the engine house lead. Fritz Klinke, as usual, has posted photos for all of us on [his Flickr site]. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, November 9 2009 at 0002 h MST
    I realized over the weekend that I've hit a new all-time low - only three trip reports posted in 2009, and we've only got about seven weeks left. So, this afternoon I picked the one closest to completion and finished it. It just turned out that it was the Friends Pile Driver special from Saturday, 20-Jun-2009. It was a cold and rainy day, and OB developed problems before they could even get the boom up, but how often do you get the chance to shoot a train of maintenance equipment working between Chama and Cumbres?

    For those interested, it's posted [here]. Enjoy. -

    Posted Thursday, November 5 2009 at 1121 h MST
    Just a few tidbits about the goings on in Silverton on the continued work to prepare the enginehouse with the D&S enginehouse...

    The D&S is going to send a work extra to Silverton today (Thursday, 5-Nov-2009) to pull the string of old high-side gons off the loop track so that trackwork on the old Silverton Northern grade can start. (From NGDF [here].) Should be interesting, as those cars haven't moved in years, and some of them are falling apart.

    One of the highlights of this new trackwork will be a brand new stub switch, complete with replica SG&N harp switchstand. This was dropped in a discussion of stub switches [here].

    As usual, thanks to Fritz Klinke for doing an excellent job in keeping us all updated via [NGDF]. -

  • SLRG 459-227 IN CHICAGO
    Posted Wednesday, November 4 2009 at 1048 h MST
    The new San Luis & Rio Grande mother-slug set - SLRG 459 and SLRG 227 respectively - is slowly working its way west. After leaving American Motive Power in New York over a week ago, the set was spotted yesterday (3-Nov-2009) passing through Union Pacific's (ex-C&NW) Proviso Yard near Chicago. Ken Larson was kind enough to send some pictures of the set, and I've posted them in the SLRG news gallery [here]. Thanks to Ken for those. If anybody else gets photos of the set moving west, by all means, please send them in.

    In other SLRG news, I talked to Nathan Zachman this morning, and apparently the ex-D&RGW tunnel motor ([SLRG 203]) is up and working on the SLRG. He was in Alamosa last night, and found 202 and 203 coupled together, running, and pointed east as if they were going to take the evening train over the hill. Neither of us knows if that was actually what was going on, but at least these units aren't sitting around dead and drained. -

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