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    Posted Wednesday, April 28 2004 at 0836 h MDT
    Not really that much to say today, aside from the fact that UP 9859, a patched ex-DRGW 5515, is on a work train at Monument. I don't know how long they're planning on keeping it there, but the gear appears to be for a crossing replacement job this weekend. Also, Paul Z. reports that 3126 has a fully working Mars light again, so hopefully those entrusted with running it will be kind enough to turn it on for us.

    5401, while intended to be assigned to the P-burg local, apparently had brake issues and was sent back to Denver on Monday - at the point of an eastbound ballast train. Hopefully Burnham will get the problem fixed and get it back westbound, but we'll know more from today's trace in an hour or so. Thanks to Tyler E. for this bit. -

    Posted Sunday, April 25 2004 at 2330 h MDT
    From the Intermountain table at the Rocky Mountain N Scale Show on Saturday, I was told that the expected release date for the Rio Grande SD40T-2s is sometime in late May. Based on the production samples sitting on the table, they're well worth the wait. Many of my complaints with the initial UP and SP versions (poor seam alignment, excess glue in spots, odd details, etc.) appear to have been addressed with these new units, and they look nothing short of incredible. These samples were truly top notch quality in terms of appearance. Of course when they're released, I'll be getting my hands on one ASAP for both my own layout and for a full review of what's quite possibly the most anticipated plastic model ever for Grande N-scalers. (I'm not currently modeling the Grande in N-scale, but I will have one on my layout as run-through power or some such.) - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, April 25 2004 at 2323 h MDT
    The news item that could otherwise be called a week of tidbits...

    GM 70 and 71 have moved on from their Palmer Lake test site up to the east portal of the Moffat Tunnel for true high altitude testing. Oddly enough, the EMD folks are up there sharing space with with GE folks, as one of their test units (GECX 899) is also up there right now.

    Another tunnel motor may have come home for a while, and with it comes the return of large Rio Grande power to Colorado. DRGW 5401, after a visit to Burnham that netted it new wheels, has been hauled up to Phippsburg. The word is that it will be assigned to the P-burg local. The only problem now is that I know zilch about the P-burg local, so if anybody else happens to know, please fill me in. Tyler (by the handle of eatontm) has posted this thread over on Trainorders for those of you that are members. For those that aren't, you'll be able to read it as long as it sticks around on the front page.

    Also seen roaming about Colorado is UP 9859, ex-DRGW SD50 5515. It's just a patch job, so it's even worth going out to see. It went west from Denver on Friday on MNYGJ, and apparently headed back on Saturday. However, the trace as of this morning put it at Bond, so I don't know if it's gotten back to Denver yet.

    Not all of our news is diesel related. Jay Wimer reports from Chama (via the Goat) that Cumbres & Toltec / DRGW K-36 484 is now almost reassembled and has been under a full head of steam now a couple times. 484 has been out of commission since derailing on a snow plowing train back in 1999, and now is the first of the units be rebuilt to the new FRA standards for the 2004 season. NM Governor Bill Richardson will supposedly be up in Chama tomorrow to have a passenger car named after him, and apparently they're doing their best to have 484 out as a showpiece. Jay's first round of 484 photos can be found here, and then an update from today can be seen here.

    Posted Thursday, April 22 2004 at 1009 h MDT
    The FRA's primary track geometry inspection car is southbound on the Joint Line this morning. It passed the Joint Line camera at 0843h this morning. You can see a picture of it from the camera here, or learn more about it on the FRA's site. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, April 20 2004 at 1049 h MDT
    The Joint Line camera has been experiencing a few issues over the last few days. Due to the high winds we've been experiencing on the Front Range, the camera is being knocked around and thus seeing "motion", despite the fact it's the camera moving, not the ground in front of it. Thus, I've had to severely de-tune it to prevent it from uploading hundreds and hundreds of worthless images. As soon as the winds subside, it'll be back to normal. - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, April 18 2004 at 1424 h MDT
    Normally I wouldn't post another separate news story just to add photos, but two brand new units sitting still in a public area just begs for dozens of photos to be taken. So, I bring you photos (all 800x533).

    The whole test set (#1 - #2 - #3)
    EMD's Test Car (#1)
    SD70ACe GM 70 (Front - Side - Rear)
    SD70ACe GM 71 (Front - Side - Rear)

    If anybody is looking to model one of these creatures or needs detail photos for other reasons, let me know what you're looking for - I also did a full set of detail shots on each of the units. Thanks again to Mike K., because without him, I would have missed this one entirely. -

    Posted Sunday, April 18 2004 at 1030 h MDT
    Just a heads-up - Mike Keithly just called to let me know that GM 70 and 71 are at Palmer Lake. For those that don't recognize the numbers, these are two of the SD70ACe prototypes (and obviously the set that isn't in helper service on the KCS at the moment) They'll apparently be there for a few hours doing some sort of testing. I'm headed up in a few minutes, so if you don't get the chance to get there, there will be pictures later from both Mike and myself. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, April 13 2004 at 2148 h MDT
    Today I just a few bits of news from out and about on the modern day ex-Rio Grande system. The first was sent in from Harold Reardon, who caught up with ex-DRGW 5377, now GECX 8632, at Tyrone, OK. As you'll recall, this motor is part of a group returned to GE Capital when their lease expired in late January. They're now back out on the road as units leased back to the UP, in mostly Rio Grande paint except for the patches and all DRGW logos blanked out. It looks rather naked, but it's still better than yellow and grey. Take a look at Harold's photo here.

    The Canon City and Royal Gorge has picked up yet another piece of motive power. A few months back, they acquired ex-DRGW 5305, a chop-nosed SD9, which they repainted into their Rio Grande-inspired paint scheme (sorry, I don't have a photo of it yet). When I was down there last weekend, they've also picked up an ex-ATSF, ex-Central Kansas GP7u numbered 2238. Based on what's stenciled on the side, it was placed into service late last month (March 2004). The unit bears the reporting marks CRRX 2238. It, too, bears the DRGW-inspired scheme, but unfortunately due to it being tucked away in a rather inaccessible location, I wasn't able to get a decent shot of it. Still, anything's better than nothing, and I managed two - an extreme telephoto head-on (sorry for the heat distortions) and a conductor's side 3/4 through the trees (sorry about the trees - due to a fence and a water-filled ditch, they couldn't be avoided). There was also an SW1500-looking unit hidden behind a line of coal cars in the yard. I'm unsure as to what this unit is, as it doesn't wear the CCRG or Rock & Rail paint. -

    Posted Thursday, April 8 2004 at 2249 h MDT
    The process of finding a new qualified operator for the Georgetown Loop railroad for the 2005 season is proceeding. A Request for Information was published on their website, requesting inquiries by 3-May-2004. You can read it here.

    As many of you will recall, the current operator (who also, incidentally, owns most, if not all, of the equipment and has created a rather successful operation over the past 30 years) is not having their contract renewed at the end of the 2004 season. Contract negotiations have apparently broken down over contract length and insurance coverage, along with various maintenance and restoration items.

    My commentary... Unfotunately it looks like the Colorado Historical Society hasn't come to their senses yet. There are very, very few groups qualified or interested in running a steam-powered narrow gauge mountain railroad. Worse yet, there are very few, if any, narrow gauge locomotives available that meet current FRA standards. Most of the units that meet current boiler specs are already in daily use, and other tourist roads (the C&TS particularly) are scrounging for enough money to get the bare minimum number of units on the road this year. Add to that the need to acquire rolling stock, and I believe that means there may not be any other viable operators. Greska (the current operator) has both the knowledge and the equipment, and has a proven successful track record of over thirty years. Why not go back to negotiating and work out the problems, for the betterment of Clear Creek County's economy, Colorado's history, and narrow gauge preservation everywhere? Both sides clearly need to be working together to hammer out something that's acceptable, since clearly both have distinct differences in what they want from when negotiations broke down.

    Remember, the Colorado Historical Society is partially a state institution under the Department of Higher Education. For concerned fans who live in Colorado (and maybe even those of you elsewhere), call or write (email is rather ineffective) your state legislators and Gov. Owens. Contact information is available by searching around the State of Colorado website. Nothing helps along negotiations like a little pressure from above, even though we're in a severe budget crunch and money is scarce at the state level. -

  • UP 5254 (ex-DRGW 3099) RENUMBERED TO UP 1354
    Posted Tuesday, April 6 2004 at 2208 h MDT
    First and foremost, UP 5254, formerly DRGW 3099 (but a full Armour Yellow UP repaint), was patched over to UP 1354 on 9-Mar-2004. Thanks to Sean-Graham White and Loconotes for providing that bit. Also, I upgraded the webserver the other day and didn't realize that I broke the roster engine. That has been corrected, sorry for any inconvenience. - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, April 4 2004 at 1648 h MDT
    I just returned from a quick trip to Tucson last week to meet up with parts of my family. Along the way, I couldn't resist a little railfanning here and there. Consequently, I present the latest trip report - Copper Haulers of NM/AZ, looking at mainly the Southwestern Railroad in New Mexico and the Copper Basin in Arizona, with a little Arizona Eastern and BHP Arizona thrown in for fun. Enjoy! - NDHolmes

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