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    Posted Monday, August 26 2002 at 0944 h MDT
    Yes, that's right, for the first time in nearly 18 months there are five Rio Grande motors in Helper, UT. The usual quartet of 5371, 5377, 5390, and 5401 have been joined by 5349. It rolled in on the back of the Dirt Train from Roper on Saturday night / Sunday morning. Here's to hoping it sticks around until next weekend at least. Also of note are the three Rio Grande GP40-2s on the MPUAA and MAAPU (Manifest - Pueblo to Alamosa and return). Because the train only has five units on most days, there's a very good chance at least one of these units is going out on the local run to the connection with the San Luis Central or down to Antonito. Going back to last week's engineering/inspection/exec vacation special with UP 6936 over the Moffat, Kevin Morgan grabbed a few shots Tuesday night in Denver while the train was being staged. They're available on the front page of his website. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, August 26 2002 at 0942 h MDT
    The Durango & Silverton hosted the now-annual Railfest over the weekend, but with limited Silverton runs due to continued fire problems. Here's coverage from the Durango herald: Railfest Weekend and Wrap-upThe Durango Herald is also carrying several other articles on the D&S this morning, including this one about brush clearing, more new diesels (5), and a new John Woo film being shot on the D&S next year. Oh yes, and if they hadn't gotten enough coverage, there's one more, covering things like the bill for the latest fire, etc. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, August 21 2002 at 2233 h MDT
    It's confirmed now - UP 6936, the DD40AX Centennial, will be leading an inspection special across the Moffat Line from Denver, CO, to Helper, UT, tomorrow. It's supposed to leave Denver tomorrow (Thursday, 22-Aug) at around 0600h, arrive in Grand Junction between 1100h and 1200h, and then tie down in Helper that afternoon. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, August 20 2002 at 1445 h MDT
    Depending on your particular view of the history of the Rio Grande, Philip Anschutz is either the single worst thing that ever happened or the man who integrated into a nationwide system in, quite possibly, the only way its routes could have survived in the modern railroading environment. However, how much do you actually know about Philip? The Denver Post ran a story yesterday giving an overview chronology of his life. It's available online, and I thought it might be of interest to some of you. Thanks to several posts on the D&RGW list alerting me to this. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, August 20 2002 at 1105 h MDT
    It's now official - the Utah Railway has been sold to Genesee & Wyoming Inc. for $54 million. G&W operates quite a few railways both inside the US and internationally. Most notably (at least to me), they're the chosen operator for the new rail link being built between Alice Springs and Darwin, Australia. The full press release is available here.In other Utah news, apparently the big Cats aren't doing so well - several of them are sidelined at the Martin shops, rumored to have broken crankshafts. Either way, look for the Utah grey-red-yellow era to come to an end in the near future, so get out and have a look soon (especially if you want to see MK500Cs). G&W seems to very much like repainting everything in their orange and black scheme. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, August 19 2002 at 2122 h MDT
    Monday's North Yard to Pueblo manifest was headed up by Rio Grande GP40-2 3126. As best I can tell, this is the first time we've had a DRGW unit in the lead on the Joint Line since 9-Apr-2002, nearly four and a half months ago, when 5390 was released from Denver Diesel. Either way, despite some difficulty getting out of work and running a few critical errands, I managed to catch up with 3126 just north of the Uintah St. exit here in Colorado Springs (Photo #1). Lighting was at the very least interesting, with storms rolling through the area - hence I had the lens stopped all the way out, and some nasty flare was the inevitable result. Photo #2 and Photo #3 were taken at Cimarron while the crew set out three cars, and with that done they were on their way south (Photo #4). Lighting and traffic didn't really cooperate, but I did manage to grab one more shot in the last moments of evening sun down near the Pinon exit off I-25 (Photo #5). 3126 will now join 3121, 3128, and 3129 working the Alamosa train and local jobs out of Pueblo. Oh yes, and a big thanks to Paul Z. for alerting those of us to the south that 3126 was leading! Update (8/19 - 2145h): I forgot one photo - an interesting backlit shot near Nixon (Photo #6) - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, August 18 2002 at 1308 h MDT
    UP 8622 (ex-DRGW 5365) paid a visit to Burnham here in Denver last week with failed turbo. Typically this has been a death sentence for units of this age on the UP, but the turbocharger was replaced and 8622 was sent back out on the road. Near the same time, DRGW 3111 showed up at Burnham, also with a blown turbo. It, too, has apparently been repaired, as it was released and is out working 36th Street Yard in Denver as of today. As many of you are aware, the future of the gang of four tunnel motors in Helper, UT, has been looking a bit shakey as of late. 5390 was reportedly running with a bad cooling fan, and was often seen with the engine doors open. So, last week 5390 and 5377 were both shipped to Roper for repairs and inspection, and the missing unit was replaced by SP AC4400 303 on the Dirt Train. Both of these units have been repaired and are now back in Helper with 5371 and 5401. Apparently all but 5377 were out on a run this morning (probably the Castle Valley spur job). Oh yes, and one more SD50 has been renumbered. UP 5105 (ex-DRGW 5511) became UP 9855 on Friday, 16-Aug-2002. Thanks to Jim H. and Paul Z. for bits and pieces of the above. - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, August 18 2002 at 1255 h MDT
    The Durango & Silverton has stopped operations to Silverton again after starting a fire near the Cascade wye. As of last night, the Durango Herald reports very little progress on containment. In the meantime, the railroad voluntarily ceased runs to Silverton (running trips only as far as Hermosa) and apparently the locals are once again discussing shutting it down until the fire danger lessens. Let's just hope that this idea doesn't once again spread over to the C&TS side of things - they have enough problems already without being shut down yet again. Update (8/19 - 1600h): See this article for Monday's updates on the fire situation. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, August 14 2002 at 0950 h MDT
    The hillside above Clay (above Golden, CO, and just track west of the Big Ten curves) is currently on fire. Current speculation is that one of two eastbounds started the blaze around 0530h this morning (14-Aug-2002). It's grown from 2 acres at 0630h to over 60 now, endangering some of the houses in the subdivision atop the hill (Blue Mountain). DS 82 apparently was doubtful that Amtrak 5 would run through Colorado today due to firefighting equipment on the line, but rather be anulled or detoured onto UP's Wyoming main. Colorado 72 is closed west of the CO-93 interchange. Winds in the area are reported as high and gusting, just like they always are up there. More information from the regular media is available here. Thanks to Kevin, Paul Z., and others for bits and pieces on this one. Update (8/15 - 1004h): The fire is now 100% extinguished, and thanks to the efforts of the fire fighting teams, no homes were damaged. Kevin Morgan has posted photos of the fire on his website. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, August 14 2002 at 0810 h MDT
    I've heard it before from some good sources, but it's official today - Union Pacific will donate the old Rio Grande depot in Antonito, CO, to the city. They issued a press release yesterday stating:

    Union Pacific Railroad announced today it will transfer ownership of the historic Antonito, Colo. rail depot to local officials at a ceremony at 1:00 p.m. August 16 in the southern Colorado community.Constructed in 1880 for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (which subsequently merged with Southern Pacific Railroad in 1989 and eventually became part of UP in 1996), the depot is unique in being built out of locally quarried lava rock. Passenger service on a regular basis ceased in 1951, and the depot was little more than a local curiosity until its listing in 1999 by the Great American Station Foundation as one of the nation's most endangered depots.

    Local community officials, led by Antonito Town Trustee Roger Romero and the board of trustees, began negotiations with Union Pacific, and ultimately the railroad agreed to donate the depot, with the only requirement that the city put up a fence along the side of the property nearest the railroad tracks, as a safety measure.

    Richard M. Hartman, Union Pacific special representative in Colorado, said, "We are very pleased that we and the people of Antonito could reach agreement on this project and save what is obviously a local landmark and historic treasure." - Press release from UPRR.com


    Posted Tuesday, August 13 2002 at 0742 h MDT
    UP 5261, ex-DRGW 3107, has been patched to UP 1361 at Proviso, IL, as of 8-Aug-2002. The unit was previously a patch job, and this is just a patch of a patch. See RailARC for photos of it as a patch in Boone, IA, about eighteen months ago. Also add to that the renumbering of SD50 UP 5110, formerly DRGW 5516 and SP 5516. It turned into UP 9860 on 7-Aug-2002 at Fort Worth, TX. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, August 7 2002 at 2249 h MDT
    As many of you know, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic finally resumed through (full Antonito-Chama) operations last Tuesday, 30-July-2002. So, not wanting to wait too long in what's been a horrible season full of closure and calamity, I headed down Friday night to capture a day of operations on Saturday. So, check out the latest Trip Report. Oh yes, and remember back during the shutdown when I was encouraging those of you who wanted to support the railroad to buy a season pass? Just to show you my money is where my mouth is, mine finally (and I do mean finally) showed up. You can see what one looks like here. (Yes, I put the void mask over it, just to keep anyone with a criminal mind and a color printer from having too much fun. Thanks to Crissie Elwess for her help in getting the order mixup figured out. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, August 7 2002 at 0859 h MDT
    Some time around the 23-24th of July, UP renumbered four of the ex-Rio Grande SD50s. Originally the plan was only to renumber units below 5100, since they would conflict with the latest order of SD70Ms, but now apparently the decision is to renumber all of them. I don't know whether this indicates they're keeping them together in the roster or that there are more SD70Ms expected to be ordered soon. UP 5103 (ex-DRGW 5509) was renumbered to UP 9853, UP 5104 (ex-DRGW 5510) to UP 9854, UP 5106 (ex-DRGW 5512) to UP 9856, and UP 5107 (ex-DRGW 5513) to UP 9857. Then, late last week, UP 5095 (ex-DRGW 5501) was renumbered to UP 9845. I haven't updated the roster page to reflect this yet, but Locotrace is up to date. - NDHolmes

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