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Posted Wednesday, May 23 2007 at 1519 h MDT
The upcoming Memorial Day weekend is the traditional opening weekend for many of Colorado's tourist railroads, and this year is no exception. Most notably, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (aka the San Luis & Rio Grande) will make the debut public run of their new ex-SP steamer, 2-6-0 #1744, on Saturday. The website is still showing tickets available for both days this weekend (though the parlor car class is sold out). 1744 has been out doing test runs this week and should put on a great show this weekend. Just yesterday Earl Knoob posted photos of Monday's 1744 test run to Antonito - you can see them on NGDF [here].
The Royal Gorge Route, operating the ex-Tennessee Pass main through the Royal Gorge, runs a limited schedule year-round. However, Saturday marks the start of their summer season, when their trains start making multiple daily trips over the line. In addition, the dinner trains start running on a more frequent basis starting on Saturday as well.
Colorado's other major standard gauge tourist line, the Leadville, Colorado & Southern will also be starting off the season on Saturday, with a daily 1300h departure from Leadville. In two weeks (11-Jun-2007), their second daily departure will also come online for the rest of the prime summer season.
On the narrow gauge front, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic is also starting up another season on Saturday. K-36s 484, 487, and 488 are all ready to go, and 489 should be coming online a bit later in the season. The other ex-DRGW narrow gauge line, the Durango & Silverton, has actually been running summer season trains for nearly three weeks already, with the first Silverton through train running on 5-May-2007.
Colorado's other narrow gauge, the Georgetown Loop, was scheduled to open this weekend, but will not operate until at least 15-Jun-2007. A decision was made earlier this week to postpone opening for another three weeks, as none of the steamers are operational, nor has the new diesel (1203) arrived from its rebuilding at the Sumpter Valley shops. The one operational unit, diesel 21, has proven troublesome on the tight curves and steep grades because of its rigid wheelbase and limited power. 2-6-0 #12 is in the process of being repaired, and a report on RyPN indicates Railstar is hoping to have it back in service by mid-June.
If you visit Colorado, be sure to ride plan time in your schedule to ride one of these lines. It's a relaxing way to spend a few hours or an entire day. As for the fans, remember that they do in the end depend on passenger revenues to support themselves, and riding is a great way to pick out photo locations for a later day of chasing.
SP 1744 RETURNS TO OPERATION
Posted Monday, May 21 2007 at 0636 h MDT
Yesterday, the San Luis & Rio Grande's new steam engine - SP 1744 - made its first trips under its own power in some six years. It sounds like yesterday they just made a few trips around the yard and wyed the unit. Earl Knoob of the SLRG posted details and photos [here] on NGDF. One of the interesting things he says is that the unit will make a run to Antonito in the afternoon today (Monday, 21-May-2007), so if anyone's down that way, you might want to have a look.
JOINT LINE MEET TOMORROW
Posted Saturday, May 19 2007 at 1023 h MDT
Just a reminder, Mike and Lee have put together the first informal railfan meet of 2007 for those of us that live along the Front Range. As usual, it will be held in the park at the north end of Palmer Lake, CO. If you come in on County Line Road, and you can't miss it - it's the parking lot on the south side of the road, just before the tracks. The official start is at 1000h, but it's informal and will likely last until the trains run out or we get hungry. - NDHolmes
BOMB THREAT SUSPECT CLEARED BY FBI
Posted Tuesday, May 15 2007 at 1119 h MDT
The man being held for the alleged threat against Amtrak 6 on Sunday, Dave Gould, has been cleared by the FBI as not a threat. Searches revealed only a knife in his luggage and no other weapons, and he maintains that he made no such threat. CBS 4 in Denver has an article and a video interview with him [here]. - NDHolmes
AMTRAK 6 STOPPED DUE TO BOMB SCARE
Posted Monday, May 14 2007 at 1016 h MDT
Amtrak 6, the eastbound California Zephyr, was stopped about 22 miles west of Denver last night when an unruly passenger allegedly started making threats towards the crew and other passengers. (22 miles by rail would put it near the Blue Mountain Road crossing, but I don't know the exact stopping point.) He had a knife (the story doesn't specify if it was a small pocketknife or something larger), and reportedly claimed he had a bomb. Passengers were moved towards the rear of the train, and then bussed on in to Denver. The train was apparently cleared to continue and is proceeding, as it was reported out of Brush, CO, eastbound and 9 hours 40 minutes late.
The Denver Post has the story [here]. - NDHolmes
1744 ARRIVES IN ALAMOSA
Posted Tuesday, May 8 2007 at 2329 h MDT
Last Wednesday, ex-SP 2-6-0 #1744 arrived in Alamosa on two trucks - one for the locomotive, one for the tender. The two were lifted by crane and placed on a spur at the south side of the Alamosa yard. Carlos Llamas has posted a few photos of that [here]. Earl Knoob (of the SLRG) also posted a few shots of the process to NGDF. You can find them in [this thread]. On Sunday, Scott Bollinger managed to get a few shots of the unit while it was being worked on, and offered to let me post them. I've put them in a gallery about 1744's arrival and reassembly, located [here].
Scott also sent photos of the SLRG's first fully-painted power - GE B39-8E #8577. It arrived in Alamosa around the same time as 1744, but is getting much less attention. You can see photos of the unit [here].
I know, news is only news if it's somewhat current. I'm only a week or so late. - NDHolmes
NEW TRIP REPORT - POTASH LOCAL
Posted Tuesday, May 1 2007 at 2356 h MDT
I had some vacation I needed to burn by the end of May, so when I saw that last Friday's weather in Moab was supposed to be just perfect, I decided it was worth blowing off a day of work to go chase the weekly Potash Local down the Cane Creek Branch. As an added bonus, the Potash Local would be hauling at least one Whitcomb/Baldwin RS4TC switcher to the end of the line, where it would be stored until such time that it was needed to help clean up the radioactive tailings pile from the old Moab uranium mill. The results of that trip are now up in a new trip report, posted [here] if you want to read the introduction, or [over here] if you just want to skip to the photos... Enjoy! - NDHolmes
SP 1744 INTO ALAMOSA TODAY
Posted Tuesday, May 1 2007 at 0911 h MDT
Earl Knoob posted on both NGDF and the Goat that SP 1744, the 2-6-0 steam engine headed for the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (aka the San Luis & Rio Grande), will be arriving in Alamosa today via truck. It's coming up US 285 from Santa Fe, and is estimated into town at around 1400h. The engine and tender will be unloaded from the truck tomorrow. - NDHolmes
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