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    Posted Wednesday, July 30 2003 at 2304 h MDT
    EMD is using a pair of ex-SP tunnel motors (no, not Grande units, in case any of you are worried) for crash test verification of their wide/crew/North American/safety/whatever cab design. These units are stripped-out hulks with new test widecabs fitted to them. The tests are conducted at the Pueblo TTC track, and the first set was done about a year ago. Now, the second unit (ex-SP SD45T-2 9309) is headed out west via Union Pacific, and should come down the Front Range in the next week or so. Photos can be found in this thread on Trainorders.com. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, July 30 2003 at 2257 h MDT
    I've finally posted a trip report I've been saving for almost exactly a year. Before the Moffat Tunnel, there was the hill from hell - Rollins / Corona Pass. Imagine 25+ miles of winding four percent grade through high moutain country, prone to rockslides and blizzards, and you'll understand the nightmare the the DNW&P/D&SL constructed as a temporary way around tunneling under the Divide. Being used exclusively from its construction in 1904 to its replacement via the Moffat Tunnel in February of 1928, Rollins Pass was quite possibly the worst chunk of mainline standard guage in North America to keep operational. Almost a year ago, 66 years after the last rail was pulled up, I drove up the east side (Tolland to the partially collapsed Needle's Eye Tunnel) to satisfy my curiousity about what it looked like and what was left. The introduction is here, or if you just want to go straight to the photos, click here. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, July 21 2003 at 1634 h MDT
    As many of you know, UP 3985 made two trips from Denver to Cheyenne last weekend (and one return trip on Saturday night). The first run was the annual Denver Post-sponsored run for Cheyenne's Frontier Days, and the second was a special Rocky Mountain Railroad Club trip. As a general rule, I typically avoid this run like the plague, since steam isn't my thing and the run is typically followed by dozens of crazy folk. However, finding myself already in Cheyenne at departure time on Saturday, I decided to catch a few shots. The first is of the departure from the Cheyenne depot and then again at Carr, CO.

    In other news, there's new content coming shortly (think later this week). Highlights include more scanned Rio Grande paperwork (timetables, etc.), some excellent Rio Grande photos from the 1970s that were graciously contributed about a month ago, roster updates, a look at what's left on the east side of Rollins Pass, and trip reports from Montana and Tennessee. There's also a small chance that Locotrace may come back from the dead.

    Unfortunately, I also need to take the server down for maintenance and upgrades, so there will be an extended outage window some evening - probably tonight (Monday). I haven't done any significant upgrades to the OS or hardware in two years, so it's about time. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but it really, really needs to be done. Update (7/21 - 2250h): Well, I think most of the worst is over - the upgrades are done. We now have a new DAT drive for backup, 512Mbytes of memory, a new disk, and a fresh, shiny new RedHat 9 install. If you find any problems, please let me know so I can fix them. -

    Posted Saturday, July 19 2003 at 2219 h MDT
    The all-important Surface Transportation Board decisions are now up on their website, making the SLRG official. If you want to read the actual decision notices, the first one is here and the second one is here. Also, of minor note, is the fact that it's the San Luis AND Rio Grande, not San Luis Rio Grande as I'd been reporting it previously. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, July 14 2003 at 2249 h MDT
    Sean Graham-White reports in his monthly roster update that DRGW SD40T-2 5350, now repainted as UP 8609, was retired on 27-Jun-2003.

    The Trinidad Railway, a branch extending from Jansen, just outside Trinidad, over to near Stonewall, CO, is really going to be abandoned. After getting a brief reprieve due to new coal mining and a possible tourist line, the route is back on the approval for abandonment list. See the STB filing that was put in on 7-Jul-2003. Get any photos soon - I have no idea when the STB will approve the abandonment, but it is a scenic little branch line.

    Also, don't forget that this weekend is the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days train, powered by UP Challenger 3985, between Denver and Cheyenne. It's a railfan mob every year, so be careful and safe out there if you decide to go photograph it. As for me, I'll probably be elsewhere. -

    Posted Monday, July 14 2003 at 2234 h MDT
    A car pulled out in front of Amtrak 6, the eastbound Zephyr, yesterday near New Castle, CO, around 1700h. Unfortunately, it ended with the usual predictable results - the driver was killed upon impact. For more details, see this article in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. My condolences go out to the man's family and to the crew themselves. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, July 8 2003 at 2016 h MDT
    This is actually about a week old, but I've been out for the last week. Jon Tyrrell was nice enough to tell me of a minor derailment in the Montrose yard last week. On Monday, he found the local power (including DRGW 3105) working with UP crews to get three tankers back on the rails. Apparently the crew was pulling through a switch behind the depot when one of the rails rolled over under them. Everything was cleaned up by Tuesday, and crews were working on putting the track back in place. The photos of the minor mishap: Photo #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6.

    Of other note in Rio Grande country last week was the sale of two Omnitrax units to the Canon City & Royal Gorge. One was CKRY 2238, a GP7, from the Central Kansas and before that, the ATSF. The more interesting unit, however, is OMLX SD9 5305, formerly NWP 5305 and before that, DRGW 5305. As some of you might remember, 5305 was the only DRGW SD9 to receive a chopped nose, as a result of a minor wreck. It's in the NWP's black widow scheme at the moment, but hopefully if the CCRG F units are any sign, we can hope that it might return to Grande-like colors eventually. The two units were moved from the Loveland deadlines to the UP interchange on 3-Jul-2003. Thanks to JB Bowers for pointing this one out.

    Tony Burzio of San Diego reports that the Carizzo Gorge Railroad (CZRY) hasn't been kind to their leased ex-DRGW GP9, SDIV 5911. This is former DRGW 5921. Apparently they seized the air pump due to failure to oil the darn thing, and there's a good chance it may now be on its way to the dead line. At the very least, it's stuck in Mexico, dead as a rock.

    Also of note is a new $500k study being done by CDOT to consider relocation of the Joint Line to far out on the eastern plains. Apparently they'd like to move UP and BNSF onto a new alignment clear of Fort Collins, Denver, Colo Springs, and Pueblo in order to either remove the corridor or, more likely, utilize it for dedicated commuter rail traffic. I'm not sure how long this link will be good, but here's the Pueblo Chieftain article from last Sunday.

    For those that wonder what I've been up to for the last week, I've been home visiting family in Iowa and buying a car. Yes, for those of you that know my obcession with trucks and SUVs, this thing will come as a bit of a shock. Don't worry, the big grey Yukon is still my railfanning vehicle of choice, but it's summer - I needed a convertable.

    Posted Tuesday, July 8 2003 at 1944 h MDT
    As most of you know, over the past couple years, the Utah Railway's entire fleet of Morrison-Knutsen MK5000C locomotives suffered bearing and crankshaft failures. It has been speculated that these were caused by excessive flexing and vibration in the frame, something that the big Cat engines or Kato alternators apparently couldn't withstand. That's just speculation, however - no official word on the cause has ever been released, nor is it ever likely to be. As a solution, MK is rebuilding the units with 16-645F prime movers, new Q-tron control systems, and SD50 shells from ex-Missouri Pacific units. Nolan Coleman reported that the first of these units, UTAH 5005, showed up in Provo, UT, the other day. He posted a photo of the unit, in new G&W-style orange paint, to the Utah Railroading list the other day, and with his permission I've reposted 5005 as an MK50-3 here for those interested in seeing the new unit. Contrast that with 5005 as an MK5000C, seen in Helper, UT, on 21-Jul-2001 or, alternately, Kyune, UT, on 16-Feb-2002. As you can see, the long hood has been changed. Reports are that the other five units will retain their grey/yellow/red Utah Railway paint, rather than the G&W-style orange and black. - NDHolmes

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