Saturday, July 9, 2016

Railroads - Completely Non Political Post (I Promise)

Seeking relief, if only for a while, from the current depressing news, the following put a smile on my face and brought back pleasant memories.

My late father was a Section Foreman for the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad for ten years during my early childhood. The constant cutbacks in personnel and seven moves in those ten years lead him to leap at the chance to get back into ranching and horses.

It was fun to be a kid along the tracks doing things few other kids ever had a chance to do.

Somewhere around 1952 my parents took a trip to the San Luis Valley  area. A that time the line over Cumbers Pass was a working line for the D&RG. As we climbed the pass in our car, we saw two steam locomotives nose to nose on the tracks. One had derailed the front guide wheels and the crews were attempting to pull it back on the tracks. All they had to work with was a large rope they had around a tree above the derailed engine. Each time the other engine would back up, the derailed wheels would almost go back on the tracks. Then the rope would break.

We watched for close to an hour. They would tie the broken ends together and try again. Same result. Finally the rope was too short for them to use so we drove on. My father was enjoying himself immensely. Someone else in the shit instead of him. I’m sure it took a lot of restraint on his part not to climb down and offer his advice. Maybe the steep snow covered incline and wearing cowboy boots was a factor.

The Cumbers and Toltec is the only one still operating with coal. The more well known Durango to Silverton is steam but diesel fired. The Georgetown Loop operates both steam and diesel. They also use Shay type locomotives.

In addition to the Cumbers and Toltec, a train runs from Alamosa over LaVeta Pass to Walsenburg using 50’s vintage diesels and passenger cars. They occasionally run steam engines when they can keep them repaired.

A diner train runs through the Royal Gorge from Canyon City to Salida and back on the mothballed Tennessee Pass route.  

There are others. If you are a rail buff you can make a great vacation around them.

Still not sated? Visit the model railroad museum on your way to the Union Pacific Museum in Cheyenne.

Hope you enjoyed this little diversion. I know I enjoyed putting it together.

On my bucket list is to ride the Amtrak California Zephyr from Denver to Emeryville. I only want to do it when I can afford a sleeping cabin. I'm way to old to sleep in a seat, even if it reclines.


drjim said...

I've always wanted to take a cross-country train trip.

One of my Uncles worked as a Fireman for the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern RR, and when my Dad, and all his brothers went down to enlist on December 8, 1941, they wouldn't take him as railroads were considered to vital to keep running.

The only "long" train trip I ever took was from Chicago to Lansing, MI to see a friend who was teaching college at MSC while he worked on his Master's.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

My only long ride was Denver to Waynesville, MO when I went in the Army. Had many a ride on the Yampa Valley Mail which operated Denver to Craig, CO. Many short rides while stationed in Germany.

DoninSacto1 said...

Took an Amtrak from Sacramento to Seattle in 2002. Yes, a room was needed. The seat is ok at 25 years old but not at 52.

Coffeypot said...

I,too, would love a cross country trip, at least through the mountains. The main reason I haven't is I would hate to spend all that money and go through all that scenic beauty AT NIGHT.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Add twenty years and triple the time.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

You have a point. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Having driven I-80 SLC to Reno and back many times, the scenery gets old real fast.

Old NFO said...

Nice post, and some good links! Thanks!!!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Thank you and glad you made it back safely.