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    Posted Wednesday, April 24 2013 at 1628 h MDT
    We all thought that the two model railroad clubs in the basement of Denver Union Station were safe from the redevelopment. Both competing development groups gave assurances to RTD and the public that, should they win the contract, the model railroads would be allowed to stay and be highlighted as part of the building's historic nature. In a quote published in the Denver Post back in 2011, when Union Station Alliance was trying to win the development contract, their own Dana Crawford was quoted as saying, "We want to make it more of a museumlike place. They're a huge asset to the community, and we want to give them more exposure because they aren't seen enough." Their [own development proposal] even shows them in the basement, and has a whole slide devoted to the message of, "The Platte Valley & Western Model Railroad Club and Denver Society of Model Railroads will remain in the basement of the station."

    The two clubs are very much part of Union Station's history. The HO scale Platte Valley & Western has been in the basement for the past 35 years, and the O scale Denver Society of Model Railroaders has been there for 80. Legend has it that the DSMR was given space in the basement because members were the ones who mucked out the space after the 1933 Cherry Creek floods filled it with mud and debris. Both clubs mothballed their layouts in April 2011 to protect them during the construction and anticipated reopening in 2014 based on those assurances from the development groups.

    Despite those assurances, the Union Station Alliance has now decided that at least one of the clubs needs to go for the sake of the redevelopment. They've given notice to the Platte Valley & Western to tear out the layout and vacate the space. They have about a month to tear out 35+ years of modeling efforts, and are basically homeless. They're planning to save as much as possible in storage until another suitable location can be found. The Denver Business Journal has more in their story [here]. The status of the Denver Society of Model Railroaders' O scale layout is still in question - their website says that despite the news articles, they've not received official notice yet.

    The statement from the developer - as quoted by a Westword article about the situation - is: "As with the renovation of any historic building, there is a time in a renovation when removing hazardous materials and environmental abatement work must begin. This work will allow the building to be renovated to current building code and current life safety standards. As we begin this process, we must remove all items from the basement storage area in order to allow this work to be done. In addition to the abatement work, we will be installing new mechanical systems in the basement of Union Station." If that's true, then their 2011 statements about keeping the layouts would appear to me to be, at best, completely inept project planning. At worst, well, I leave that to the reader's conclusions based on what evidence shows they said two years ago when they wanted to win the contract, and what they've said in the last couple weeks now that they have it.

    If you know of space, or can help them in other ways, I'm sure they'd be grateful for any and all help - contact them via [their website]. The Riverfront Park Community Foundation has already given a $25,000 grant to assist them in storage and finding a new location. Also, you can contact your RTD Board member or contact the developers directly through their website and let them know how you feel about this change in plans. Unfortunately it's probably too late to stop the demolition of the PV&W layout, but it never hurts to send a message that the public does care about the commitments they've made to preserving these historic Denver treasures. -

    Posted Friday, March 22 2013 at 1501 h MDT
    Six former railcars from the Minnesota Zephyr dinner train out of Stillwater, MN, are being moved to the SLRG carshop in Alamosa, CO. They're moving on ITTX flat cars, with the trucks on two additional cars. Word from Trainorders is that they left Bayport, MN, on 19 Mar 2012. No word on what will become of the line's F units, but they've apparently been sold as well and will be moving later.

    The best roster information on the cars I can find is from an old post on RyPN. Apparently the fleet is "an ex-SP 7/8ths dome, an ex-MP/IC PS dome coach, an ex-NP smooth side baggage car turned power car, and 3 ex-C&O AMC coaches used as table cars". As for the F units, one of them (MNZX 788) is former CNW 4082A, and the other (MNZX 787) is former SP&P 804. The 804 actually has a Colorado connection - this unit was on the Colorado & Eastern and later the Cadillac & Lake City (the former CRI&P line) as their 716A (same as its former BN number) in the mid-1980s.

    [Here's] a Twin Cities Pioneer Press article about the move.

    Update (Sunday, 24 Mar 2013, 2300h): As of Sunday morning, the cars have made North Platte, NE. Five of the car numbers are apparently ITTX 961668, ITTX 965401, ITTX 964730, ITTX 962452, and ITTX 961220. -

  • D&RGW 463 LIVES
    Posted Tuesday, March 19 2013 at 0927 h MDT
    Don't know how I missed this, but at long last D&RGW K-27 463 has been brought back up to pressure and has moved under her own power. A report from John Bush [here] says that a fire was first built last Thursday (14 Mar 2013), and the engine moved on the 15th. That means, for the first time in over a decade and a year behind the original plan, we'll have a K-27 operating on home rails.

    Of course the class has not been absent - the Huckleberry up in Michigan keeps sister unit 464 in top condition and Rio Grande paint.

    Sadly, I have to admit I never made it to Chama or Durango last year for the first time since I've lived out here (14 years now). This should add some variety for the season and motivate me to get off my lazy butt and get down there again. -

    Posted Wednesday, January 2 2013 at 1155 h MST
    DRGW 3016 - sold by the Hartwell Railroad some months back - has been put through Railserve's LEAF program and come out as a surprisingly recognizable genset unit. It retains the GP30 cab and nose (complete with nose light dent), but the entire back end has been replaced. There's a photo by Richard Barnes Jr. posted on PBase [here].

    The unit is being sent to Cargill's plant at Blair, NE, to provide switching services. -

    Posted Sunday, December 9 2012 at 2151 h MST
    One of the two new Talgo Series VIII trainsets built in Milwaukee for Amtrak Cascades service has been shipped to the Transportation Test Center, located just east of Pueblo, CO. The set left the Talgo factory in North Milwaukee on 29 Nov 2012, along with six old Amtrak cars. These extra cars were apparently added to act as brakes, as my understanding is that the test set itself had its brakes cut. The set moved west via the Wisconsin and Southern to the BNSF interchange at Crawford, WI, where it was handed over for the dedicated move west via Galesburg, Kansas City, and La Junta.

    At La Junta, the equipment was joined by Amtrak 145, the Phase III heritage engine, which had been dropped off by the Southwest Chief. 145 would be used to provide propulsion for its testing at the TTC.

    On Monday, 3 Dec 2012, BNSF 4798 pulled the test train to Avondale, CO, where the TTC interchanges with the BNSF and UP. Once there, the six brake cars were cut out and taken back to La Junta.

    Since I don't actually get time to do any railfanning any more (thanks, job...), Nathan Zachman sent over pictures of the move. I've posted them with his permission [here]. -

    Posted Wednesday, October 31 2012 at 1159 h MDT
    After Canon City & Royal Gorge 5305 (ex-DRGW 5305) was scrapped last month, reports came that the replacement unit was a former Virginia Railway Express locomotive. A picture has emerged of former VRE GP40PH-2 V20 has surfaced with the long hood stencilled "CRRX". It's [here on RRPictureArchives.net], and was taken by Ed Klein in La Cross, WI, two days ago (Monday, 29 Oct 2012). For those wondering, the engine started out as Atlanta & West Point GP40 #728, built in 1969. I don't know if it's coming straight to Colorado or stopping somewhere for some work first, but I suspect the latter. La Crosse would be a very strange routing from the East Coast to Colorado. - NDHolmes

  • 463 NEWS: NOT 'TIL 2013
    Posted Tuesday, June 26 2012 at 0822 h MDT
    Last week, the folks from American Heritage Railways (the D&S, basically) did an assessment of how much more time would be needed to complete 463's reconstruction and then tried to figure out how that mapped onto available shop crew time. Tim Tennant has announced the results: there probably isn't enough spare shop time to finish 463 until the off season, meaning we won't be seeing 463 run before 2013. The announcement is [here]. - NDHolmes

    Posted Thursday, November 10 2011 at 1125 h MST
    Early yesterday morning, the second unit on a westbound manifest suffered a generator fire near Steamboat Springs. The fire was spotted by a passer-by, and the Steamboat Fire Dept was called out to extinguish the blaze. Steamboat Today has the article and a couple pictures online [here]. - NDHolmes

  • THE 2012 C&TS OPERATOR IS...
    Posted Wednesday, October 12 2011 at 1018 h MDT
    As many of you know, the Bi-State Commission issued an RFP several months back soliciting a new operator for the Cumbres & Toltec next year. I've mostly tried to stay out of offering any commentary on it, as there's a lot of opinions and few facts released and I'd like to maintain the friendly relationships I have with many of the parties involved.

    Of the responses the Commission received, they selected two groups to continue to the final selection process - the Royal Gorge Routes folks (Lindsey Ashby and son-in-law Mark Greksa) and Al Harper's American Heritage Railways (basically the Durango & Silverton). Reports on various forums indicate that the RGR team has dropped out of the running in the week or two. That leaves only the D&S proposal. So, there's a very strong chance that Al Harper's team will be running both ex-Grande narrow gauges in Colorado for the next few years. Stay tuned for the official announcement - it's supposed to come out of the Commission meeting in early November.

    Of course the big question that nobody can yet answer (except maybe the Commission) is what this means for the relatively unfettered yard access fans have enjoyed for decades in Chama. So if you want to go have one last stroll around the yard, I'd do it soon before the snow flies. I did mine a couple weeks back, photographing everything in sight. The end of the C&TS season is this Sunday and there's a double-header scheduled for Saturday, and with predicted good weather it would be a great time to get one more look at the current operation. -

    Posted Tuesday, August 9 2011 at 2151 h MDT
    Word going around the interwebs is that UP 1989 - the Grande heritage unit - will be on the point of the Roper Yard (Salt Lake) to North Yard (Denver) train tomorrow. It's scheduled out at 0300h MDT. Have fun, send pictures if you happen to catch it. - NDHolmes

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