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    Posted Wednesday, February 26 2003 at 0034 h MST
    That's right, everyone's favorite hole in the ground, the Moffat Tunnel, turns 75 today (26-Feb-2003). Opened officially for traffic on 26-Feb-1928 for the Denver & Salt Lake, the first official train passed through at 1350h under the control of D&SL Mallet 205. However, that said, the first train through was actually an unremarked freight pulled by 120 nearly two weeks earlier, on 14-Feb-1928. The tunnel, 32800 feet in length, took 5 years, $15 million, 11 million board feet of timbering, and 19 lives to build. Seven and a half decades later, it's now the bottleneck in Union Pacific's Colorado coal-hauling network and still one of the most impressive feats of civil engineering in Colorado. In the coming days, I'll be posting a trip report, of sorts, about Rollins Pass and what remains of it - the long and dangerous route that the Moffat replaced. - NDHolmes

    Posted Saturday, February 22 2003 at 2339 h MST
    I've finally gotten a new trip report posted. Most significantly, it covers last Thursday's Cañon City Local, powered by a solid Rio Grande set. DRGW 3109 was in the lead westbound, followed by 3118 and 3111, and because it was Thursday they actually went all the way to Cañon City, CO. Also included are a look at DRGW 3109 on the Colorado Springs local job in late January, and a few Helper, UT, shots of last November, when I was passing through on my way to California. As usual, you'll find the introduction on the Trip Report page. Enjoy! - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, February 17 2003 at 1100 h MST
    UP 6936, the Centennial, is making an appearance in Denver today. Apparently it came down from Cheyenne this morning (0750h at 36th Street Yard), and will be returning on Tuesday. So, if anybody wants to see it, there it is. I know, it's not really Rio Grande news, but how often does an eight-axle dual diesel show up in your neck of the woods? Thanks to the CZ and his Trainorders post for this tidbit. - NDHolmes

    Posted Friday, February 14 2003 at 1526 h MST
    Altamont Press' Railroad Newsline is reporting in today's news that the Cañon City & Royal Gorge has purchased former Lake Superior & Ishpeming Alco Consolidation 2-8-0 number 19. Between its life in freight service and this new role at the CC&RG, 19 has also served on the Marquette & Huron Mountain (1964-1969 photo), the Grand Canyon Railway (1989 - ???), and been on display for the last couple years at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. If anybody knows of photos of either of the last two (GCRY or MGM), I'd appreciate links so I can post them here. Because of repair work needed to bring it back to operating status from static display, they're not expecting to be able to run it before the 2004 season. - NDHolmes

    Posted Thursday, February 13 2003 at 2239 h MST
    I just thought I'd let everyone know I'm getting back on the ball and getting the rosters up to speed. I'm still playing with the format a bit, but the unit numbers and dates have been updated. The tunnel motors will be next. For those interested, here's the SD50s and the GP60s. Update (16-Feb - 1915h): I've just updated the SD40T-2 main roster as well. - NDHolmes

    Posted Thursday, February 13 2003 at 1226 h MST
    Paul Z. reports that BNSF moved OMLX 3011 (ex-DRGW 3011) from Loveland, CO, to Denver yesterday on BNSF's Laurel (MT) - Denver train. This is the GP30 that's been donated to the Colorado Railroad Museum. Expectations are that it will be moved by the "Beer Train" out to the Coors (Golden, CO) yard until it can be trucked up to the CRRM itself. If anybody is curious what it looked like while stored in Loveland, Dave Schaaf has some photos of it posted over at Paul Birkholz's Mountain West Rail. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, February 12 2003 at 0822 h MST
    No, not mine - I still can't escape these darn Thursday meetings. As many of you know, LDS53 (the Canon City Local) has been running with 2-3 Rio Grande GP40-2s lately. Paul Birkholz caught up with the run on Thursday, 23-Jan-2003, and has posted his photos on his website, Mountain West Rail. You can find them here. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, February 11 2003 at 2358 h MST
    I've now heard this from several different places, so I'm posting it as a news-ish rumor item. It's no secret that Union Pacific has been trying to rid themselves of the Alamosa line (Pueblo or Walsenburg to Alamosa, plus the branches to South Fork and Antonito) for some time. Recently, rumors have come up from several places (now the D&RGW list) that it really is going to happen. Rumored buyers are either Rail America (coming in with four rumor votes), Progress Rail (no rumor votes, just mentioned), or, much less likely, an unknown (again, one rumor vote). Nothing has been officially announced yet, and there are no interesting filings with the STB... yet. Stay tuned, and get any shots you want of Grandes in the San Luis valley soon. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, February 11 2003 at 0025 h MST
    Apparently the RGRPC and C&TS Commission have cleared up the key differences and put things in place for the 2003 season to get underway. Kim Smith-Flowers has announed in this press release that a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed upon as to how responsibilities and liabilities would be divided up between the operator and the states. This puts the neceesary groundwork (a willing operator) in place before the commission can request appropriations from Colorado and New Mexico. While they're not likely to get much, if anything, from Colorado due to our current budget issues, the New Mexican legislators seem to be willing to help out. Also, for those interested in the fascinating work the shop guys have been doing on the locomotives, Jay Wimer has been periodically posting photos and descriptions on his cumbres-toltec.info site here. (I've linked directly to the news page that has the photos in question, but if you want to see the whole site, click here. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, February 10 2003 at 1241 h MST
    Sean Graham-White released his monthly UP roster updates to the Loconotes mailing list late last week, and of interest to Rio Grande fans is the retirement of UP 8582 on 31-Jan-2003. UP 8582 is former DRGW 5389, only patched (on 11-Aug-2001) to its new identity. Also, DRGW 3130, one of the last two GP40-2s ordered by the Grande, is at the Jenks shops in Arkansas. According to reports on the DRGW list, 3130 is up for a full repainting while there. Finally, Jim Belmont reports that 5371 is now at the Roper diesel shop, awaiting an evaluation for heavy repairs. This could very well be the end of 5371 (but it's not certain yet), leaving only 4 working t-motors (5349, 5354, 5401 at Helper, 5377 out running around). - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, February 5 2003 at 1213 h MST
    We've now received several positive sightings on UP 8614, and it is indeed DRGW 5356 with a patch job. Thanks to everyone who wrote in - I'm glad to have confirmation on that one. Also, Don S. just noted on the DRGW list that the derailed sleeper was still sitting at Crescent as of Monday when he went by on Amtrak 5. Update (5-Feb-2003 1543h): Kevin M. reports that the sleeper in question was brought down from Crescent yesterday (4-Feb-2003) at approximately 1800h. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, February 3 2003 at 1123 h MST

    On the motive power front, 5377 is back from the dead. After being retired at Hinkle, OR, in December, Union Pacific miraculously brought it back from retirement in January. No one is quite sure of the reasoning behind this odd turn of events. However, it appears that in late January 2003, it really is running and has made its way into West Colton, CA, today. However, 5401 is not doing as well, and is sitting in the dead line awaiting retirement at North Platte, NE. Kevin Morgan has posted a photo of it on his website from his recent trip to Nebraska. Also, DRGW 5356 was patched (I think) at North Little Rock, AR, to UP 8614 on 15-Jan-2003. If anyone actually spots it, confirmation would be appreciated - Locotrace has been updated to make it easy to find.

    In operational news, Paul Z. reported to the DRGW list that Amtrak 6, the eastbound Zephyr, suffered a minor derailment at West Crescent, CO, on 1-Feb-2003. Apparently sleeper AMTK 32002 had a wheelset pick the switch points at around 1815h, causing a delay and ripping up about 80 feet of track. All said, a very minor incident and the train was apparently underway after only a few hours of delay (and setting out the sleeper).

    In Cumbres & Toltec news, the Commission has chosen the RGRPC (the operating corp associated with the Friends) as their choice of operators for the 2003 season. However, the rumor mill says that the negotiating process isn't going well - almost certainly sticking around fire shutdown contingencies and track maintenance. With the RGRPC supposedly deeply in debt (and bankrupt) from last season, this could spell trouble for the 2003 season. Shop work, however, is proceeding nicely. 484 is currently getting a running gear overhaul and the new FRA Part 230 work, and should be done by Spring 2003. 487 doesn't need Part 230 until next winter, and after some boiler and running gear work should be out of the shops by May for the start of the season. All of this depends on the money holding up until the start of the season - right now, the money runs out this month (Feb 2003). 488 might be out later in the season (June-July), but needs more work (running gear & Part 230) before running again. 463, 489, and 497 are lower priority and need even more work, and most likely will not run again until 2004. By what I understand, 483 and 492 may be considered instead of 489 and 497 if they're in better overall shape next winter. (All per Jay Wimer from those devoted shop guys - thanks to you all for your efforts.) For those interested in all of what FRA Part 230 requires, you can read it here.

    Contrary to popular belief, I'm still alive, and I'm hoping to get two new trip reports up soon. One will be this Thursday's Canon City local and the Colorado Springs local from several weeks back if all goes well, and the other will cover what's left of the east side of Rollins Pass. For those wondering what I've been up to lately (besides work, which has been rather hectic), take a look here - a fully modular model railroad CTC system.


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