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    Posted Thursday, December 21 2006 at 2134 h MST
    After only six months, I finally got my summer trip to the Alaska Railroad posted. Seems appropriate - I was there over the summer solstice, and tomorrow is the winter solstice. Anyway, you'll find a two week look at operations on the Alaska, primarily focusing on the passenger traffic, as the freights seem to run largely at night now. (Night in an Alaskan summer being defined as too dark to shoot, but too light to sleep.) You can start with the [summary] or just dive straight into the photos [here]. - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, December 10 2006 at 1429 h MST
    For the last two weekends, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic has operated their Santa Claus trains. On 2-Dec-2006, they made three short runs (1000h, 1200h, and 1400h) out of Chama and back. This weekend (9-Dec-2006), there were a pair of runs (1000h and 1300h) from Antonito to Lava and back. The bad news is that I was too lazy to drive down to Chama/Antonito either of the past two weekends, but fortunately a few photos of the Chama run got posted on the Goat [here] and [here]. To my knowledge, nobody has yet posted photos from the Antonito run, but I believe Carlos Llamas was working that day, and thus would expect to see a few photos on one of his weekly updates soon.

    Yesterday, though, two other Christmas-themed specials started running. The first was the Royal Gorge Route's Santa Express Train, which was run as part of the route's normal weekend trains this time of year. The other was the Pueblo Railway Museum's Pueblo Express 2006, a short hop with one of their C&W geeps and two cabooses. I've posted a few photos of each [here].

    Posted Friday, December 8 2006 at 2328 h MST
    I'm sorry I didn't post this earlier, but I haven't had much time this week to do website updates.

    A usually reliable UP employee posted to the DRGW list about a week ago that a letter from Union Pacific president Jim Young had arrived at Roper regarding 5371. The letter was essentially a reprieve for 5371, stating the unit was to continue unpatched until such point that it suffered a major failure. At that point, it would be donated to the Utah State Railway Museum in Ogden. The letter arrived just in time, as 5371 was set to be patched later that same day.

    So far, indications seem to be that it is indeed true. 5371 was indeed released from the shop without any patch, and with a new set of hand-painted number boards. (Apparently the real ones were stolen before it reached Roper for inspection.) Unfortunately, it hasn't returned to Helper, but rather is running the LEU50/LEU51, the Roper-Wendover turns.

    Nothing has yet been confirmed about the eventual donation to the Utah State Railway Museum, but if the first part of this report was true, I have no reason to doubt the second half. -

    Posted Friday, December 8 2006 at 2313 h MST
    DRGW F7B 555B/5552 went on to become Alaska 1517, and later returned to near its home, becoming Mountain Diesel Transportation (MDT) 1511 and working the Wyoming & Colorado Railway. The unit has been sitting in Laramie, WY, since the WYCO largely closed up shop. Now apparently the owner of the property wants the railroad equipment gone, and the unit is being scrapped on site. Work started a little over a week ago, around the end of November. As of Friday afternoon (8-Dec-2006), very little remains of old DRGW 5552 - the frame, the engine, and a bunch of sorted scrap piles.

    The scrapping crew was quite friendly, and was happy to let me wander around taking pictures of what remained. They'd just come from scrapping another WYCO diesel at Saratoga, WY, and have been working on the F7B for about seven working days now. Once they finish on the F7B, they'll move on to Rock Island caboose 17017, and then finish with the old boxcar that WYCO turned into an office. They gave me the builder's plate off the prime mover, which they'd pulled and stored in their tool box. Unfortunately, the main builders plates off the whole unit were long gone.

    I've posted the results of today's sad visit [here]. Photos taken by Larry Ostresh from earlier in the scrapping process (Tuesday, when the carbody was still together) can be found on John Combs' AlaskaRails.org site [here]. -

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