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    Posted Tuesday, July 27 2010 at 2104 h MDT
    On Monday, 26-Jul-2010, the morning track inspection found two medium-sized slides in the upper Animas Canyon, only a couple miles south of Silverton. These slides - like most in the Rockies - were most likely triggered by heavy rains on Sunday. The D&S maintenance of way crews performed their usual miracles, and service was restored this morning (Tuesday). Yvonne mentioned in her NGDF post that apparently more rocks came down this afternoon around milepost 481 (between Tefft and Needleton), and they're working to get those cleared out. Photos of the Monday slides can be found on the D&S website [here]. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, July 27 2010 at 2053 h MDT
    Up until now, we've heard bits and pieces of what's supposedly wrong with Lobato after the fire - some truth, some speculation, and often hard to conclusively differentiate between the two.

    Now we have an impartial account of at least part of the damage, thanks to a few photos posted for "Tomstp" by Chris Webster over on NGDF. They look to be from the engineering study done several weeks back. I'm definitely not an expert, but suffice to say parts look bad - far worse than I'd anticipated. Damage includes warping in the main girders and bracing, cracks in the flanges and gussets, and one end that's been pulled upward off its bearing, breaking the anchor bolts. So, I leave the photos to speak for themselves - there are three sets: #1, #2, and #3. -

    Posted Thursday, July 22 2010 at 2320 h MDT
    I've been hearing rumors for two weeks now that Union Pacific was going to donate one of the tunnel motors recently brought to Denver to the Colorado Railroad Museum. I've held off posting anything until a more official announcement appeared, not wanting to either jinx the deal or just be plain wrong. Turns out, it's absolutely true - CRRM is acquiring one of the Grande's signature diesels, the SD40T-2 "Tunnel Motor"!

    The museum apparently opened a dialog with Union Pacific in early July, and UP agreed to the donation shortly thereafter. 5401 was one of the final four in Helper, and aside from the removal of the Gyralite and the class lights, is largely as-built (at least visually). It even retains its Grande paint, though it has been patched twice - the first time to UP 8594 in 2005, and then to UP 9871 in 2007.

    The tunnel motor will be hauled by BNSF to the Coors brewery in Golden, where it will be stored until the museum is ready to accept it and has the money to move it. Obviously, they'd appreciate donations to help with this, as the museum has no direct rail connection and any move will likely be by crane and truck. With 350,000lbs of locomotive, that's going to be a heck of a move.

    I know that class lights are being donated to the museum shortly for 5401, but as of yet I don't know of anyone with an appropriate Gyralite to install. If you have one, or know somebody who would be interested in donating it to restore 5401 to its original appearance, please contact the museum. I'm sure they'd be glad to hear from you, and all of us Grande fans would be eternally grateful for 5401's light package being restored. -

  • D&RGW K-27 #463 UPDATE
    Posted Friday, July 9 2010 at 1620 h MDT
    Recent reports indicate that 463's boiler, currently being restored in Alabama, is on schedule and will be back in August. The contract for restoring 463's running gear and reassembling has been awarded to Soni Honegger, with Marty Knox doing consulting work. This is a change back to the original plan for 463, as at one point shortly following Soni's resignation, there were reports that the CTSMC intended to do the work in house at the railroad's shops. This will be good for 463, as the shop crews have enough to do and 463 will be in very competent hands with Soni and Marty. Given the anticipated return, it's even possible that we'll see the engine return to steam very late in the season. The engine's frame was loaded up yesterday (Thursday, 8-Jul-2010) and moved to Soni's shop. Roger has pictures of the loading process posted [here]. - NDHolmes

    Posted Friday, July 2 2010 at 1144 h MDT
    On the way back from vacation earlier this week, I drove across Soldier Summit and along the desert portion of the Grande for the first time in a couple years. It would appear that the old Rio Grande signal system between Helper and Brendel (aka Crescent Junction) is not long for this world. Nearly all of the intermediates have a replacement box with masts and heads placed nearby - some at the same location, some at different locations. They appear similar or identical to [the replacements installed] on the Dotsero Cutoff back in 2002. Also, near every control point are new control sheds and three new steel bases that will presumably be driven in shortly for signals. Unfortunately, the light was fading fast past Helper, so I didn't come home with any photos of the new installations. If you want photos of the classic Grande signals in the desert, it might be a good time to get on it.

    Also, as usual - if anybody knows what junkyard is going to get the old Grande signals or has a contact in UP that might know, I'd appreciate hearing from you. I still want a Grande signal to set next to my patio in the back yard. -

    Posted Thursday, July 1 2010 at 1841 h MDT
    What we've all feared for a week now may be backed up by engineering - Lobato may need to be replaced. Tim Tennant just posted news to the Friends of the C&TS website [here], stating that the initial recommendation from the structural engineers is complete replacement. Details on that recommendation are not yet available, and the press release indicates that less drastic options are still being considered.

    As a continuing reminder to new visitors to the site, the C&TS is absolutely still running. Regular daily trips are available from Antonito to Osier, with connecting bus service to and from the Chama terminal. In addition, with the movement of 484 and cars to Cumbres today, service will commence from Cumbres Pass to Osier on the western half of the line next week, again with connecting bus service to Chama. -

    Posted Thursday, July 1 2010 at 1455 h MDT
    According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal, the New Mexico State Fire Marshal's Office has found "no evidence that a criminal act was committed" in connection with the Lobato Trestle fire. They've apparently positively ruled out fireworks and lightning, but have not released a conclusion about the actual caused.

    In other news, the Friends of the C&TS have released a statement that while the bridge is insured, there is a $50k deductible. Given that cost, they've set up a separate fund exclusively for use in restoring the trestle. For those wishing to make a donation, please see their news blurb [here] for details.

    As far as the engineering evaluation done by HNTB engineers last weekend, nothing has yet been made public. My guess is that the report just isn't yet finished. -

    Posted Thursday, July 1 2010 at 1445 h MDT
    Jay is reporting on the Goat that the C&TS is trucking [K-36 484] up to Cumbres Pass. The engine and tender were loaded up in Chama this morning. Crews have dug a trench to the southeast of the Cumbres section house, and will use that track connection to roll equipment on and off the lowboy. Presumably a couple of passenger cars will also be moved up to the summit.

    This truck move will give them a second engine on the longer half of the route, and presumably allow them to run trips on the west end of the line rather than bussing folks all the way to Antonito and back. I anticipate we'll see an announcement shortly about Cumbres-based trips with bus connections from Chama, but that's just speculation on my part.

    Currently, the railroad is offering regular daily service from Antonito to Osier, with a bus connections available for those staying in Chama. Also, they're running the Cinder Bear trains on Thursday out of Chama, and a Saturday train from Chama to Lobato and back, departing at 1300h. For details, see the [official website]. -

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