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    Posted Friday, September 26 2008 at 1118 h MDT
    Yesterday, UP 1989 (the D&RGW Heritage unit) and UP 1995 (the CNW Heritage unit) took a UP passenger special west from Denver to Kremmling. This morning, it's making its way west to Rifle, and then will turn around and head back to Council Bluffs. Kevin Morgan has photos from yesterday posted on his website [here].

    Per the schedule, it should be out of Rifle at 1130h, and is supposed to be out of Denver at around 1820h. -

    Posted Thursday, September 18 2008 at 2116 h MDT
    After the last news bit concerning the D&RGHF's loss to Creede in the adverse abandonment case, I thought it was only fair to point out that all is not gloomy in the railroad's future.

    Between 315 trips this summer, I had a day off in Alamosa and decided to make my way out to Creede on 6-Jul-2008 to see the NARCOA folks and their motorcars run, as well as to see what was new on the line.

    The first new item is the newly-installed South Fork depot, which arrived in town by truck on 14-Apr-2008. Of course this isn't the actual South Fork structure, but it is historic Rio Grande material. The new depot is actually the 1893 Hooper, CO, depot, from the narrow gauge Valley Line (and later the truncated version, the standard gauge Hooper Spur. The structure was donated to the D&RGHF by Fred Machado of Alamosa. For more information about the move, see [this South Fork Tines article], or for more photos, see mine [here] or some more detailed shots in [this guy's Webshots album].

    Other things have changed as well. The second crossing on Colorado 149 traveling west from South Fork to Creede has been redone as well. The new crossing is of the wooden plank variety with asphalt approaches on both sides, and has heavy (115 pound) rail laid through it. (Heavy rail at least for this branch, which consists mostly of 1902 65 pound rail laid with the original standard-gauging of the line.)

    The railroad has also acquired another GE 44-tonner. The unit, painted as Utah Central 1244, was built as US Air Force 1244 in 1953. It left the Utah Central in September of 1996, according to [Don Strack's roster], and was at Omnitrax in Loveland, CO, until at least late 2004. I have no idea when it arrived on the Creede Branch, but it looks to have actually run recently based on the shiny wheel treads.

    Again, my photos of most of the above from 6-Jul-2008 are posted [here].

    Of course one of the anti-railroad contingent from around Creede couldn't manage to behave himself, even after the town won their adverse abandonment case. During a Father's Day motorcar trip, one of the goons was piling debris on the track and set an "explosive device" (possibly an old torpedo?) on the rail in front of the group, which detonated under Don's motorcar. See [this Monte Vista Journal article] for more details. The press reports that the Sheriff's Department has identified a suspect.

    Posted Thursday, September 18 2008 at 2002 h MDT
    This is slightly old news, but one of the more important stories in my backlog.

    The town of Creede, CO, has won the eight year battle with the Don Shank's Denver & Rio Grande Historical Foundation over the last mile of the Creede Branch. The town filed for adverse abandonment of the branch within city limits on 17-Dec-2007, stating that the US Federal Government had deeded the land under the tracks to them in 1901, with the railroad granted right of way through it. Their argument held that since the railroad had not been actively used for train service since 1970 and that there was no timeline for service restoration, the railroad was no longer using the right-of-way grant and thus it should revert to the landowner (the town).

    Unfortunately, the Surface Transportation Board granted the town's request on 21-May-2008, effective 22-Jun-2008. The final mile of the Creede Branch - from MP 319.9 to 320.88 - is now officially abandoned. This will push the end of track back to a point a few hundred feet before the small trestle south of town. The center point of [this map] will give you an approximate idea of the location.

    The STB's decision on docket AB-1014 can be found [here].

    The worst part may be that this sets a precedent for the use of adverse abandonment on unused but preserved lines, likely to the future detriment of other railroad preservation groups owning track that hasn't seen recent service. Properties like the unused thirty miles of the East Broad Top come to mind, but I'm sure there are others.

    The Alamosa Valley Courier ran a story on the decision and the impending removal of track a couple weeks back. You can [read it here]. (Note: the photo is incorrect, and is of Bob Shank, not Don.) -

    Posted Sunday, September 14 2008 at 2030 h MDT
    D&RGW 315, after having lived in a Durango park for the last 58 years, has a new and historic winter home in Silverton. Thanks to a cooperative effort between the structure's owner, the San Juan County Historical Society, the Durango & Silverton Railroad, and the Durango Railroad Historical Society, the 315 will call the former 1912 Silverton Northern enginehouse its winter home. Located in the northwest corner of the Silverton yard, it provides safe indoor space for 315's storage and winter maintenance, while addressing the D&S's liability concern about storing non-railroad property. In addition, plans are already underway to re-lay the SN rails down Cement St. to connect with the D&S, so that 315 can be moved by rail to and from her new home.

    Dave Dye has given some quick annotation to aerial imagery, so to get a better idea of the location of the structure in question, check out [his map], paying attention to the red arrow (the SN enginehouse).

    In the meanwhile, rails have been placed inside the structure, and on Monday and Tuesday (Sep 15 & 16), the DRHS volunteers will be constructing temporary loading/unloading ramps at the enginehouse and a few hundred feet away on the D&S. Next Saturday (20-Sep-2008), 315 will leave Durango in the early morning and run light to Silverton, where it will use the ramps to be placed on a heavy-haul trailer for the short move. To see the structure and the interior rails, see Jim Granflaten's post on NGDF [here].

    Update (15-Sep-2008 - 2227h): Apparently I was misinformed about the light move date - 315 moved to Silverton today (Monday).

    Posted Sunday, September 14 2008 at 1920 h MDT
    Finally got the pictures from Durango Railfest 2008 sorted, processed, and posted today (to the exclusion of doing much else). Included are an RGS 5 trip with a tour of the Tacoma power plant, two D&RGW 315 specials (one from trackside, the other from on board), and Rod's walking tour out to the RGS tank at East Mancos. The new trip report is posted [here].

    I know, I haven't posted anything in nearly two months now, and I have a lot of stuff queued up. I just haven't had time to get around to it, but things are looking a bit slower until mid-October, so hopefully I'll get through quite a bit of it.

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