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Cripple Creek & Victor Railway 7/18/2016

by Chris Guenzler

We left the Rodeway Inn and started up Colorado Highway 17. About ten miles out of town, we were stopped once for fiveminutes and then another time for fifteen minutes for road construction. I had managed to get around all the construction crews and there was an open highway in front of me, but they stopped us and let all those construction vehicles roll by to their work site. Sometimes road construction like this really drives me crazy. We headed to Salida where I stopped to let Elizabeth photograph the steam engine there. After a stop at McDonald's for a bathroom break and other things, we thenproceeded to Cripple Creek. We arrived at the parking lot at 10:38 for the 10:40 AM train. Luckily the Cripple Creek isn't the Swiss Time, so we had time to buy our tickets, use the bathroom then board the train.

Rolling stock

As of the 2008 season, the railroad operates three coal-fired narrow gauge steam locomotives. Engine 1 is an 0-4-4-0 Orenstein & Koppel articulated mallet built in 1902. Engine 2 is a 0-4-0 Henschel built in 1936. Engine 3 is an 0-4-0 H. K. Porter tank built in 1927. Engine 4 is a W. G. Bagnall 0-4-4-0T, built in 1947. The 5th engine is a 1951 General Electric, four wheel, diesel-electric engine that was battery operated for underground mining at the Idarado Mine near Telluride, Colorado. The engine is currently being used by the railroad's track crew.

Rail gauges

Although the railroads that previously occupied the Cripple Creek & Victor's route were laid to 4 ft 8 1/2 in standard gauge and 3 ft narrow gauge, the current railroad is laid to a 2 ft narrow gauge. The current railroad started operations on June 28, 1967.

Track route

The track system begins at Bennett Avenue/5th Street going south out of Cripple Creek, goes past the old Midland Terminal Wye, then over a reconstructed train trestle, continues past historic mines and terminates very near the abandoned Anaconda mining camp. The return trip to Cripple Creek completes a total of 4 miles. The railroad does not actually terminate at Victor, Colorado, as the railroad's name implies.

Stations and depot The Bull Hill Station, in Cripple Creek was originally built at the Anaconda Mine in 1894 by the Midland Terminal Railway. However, it was moved to Bull Hill in 1912, east of the town of Victor. In 1968, the depot was moved to Cripple Creek.

Our visit

We boarded the last car and once Robin returned, our train left the Cripple Creek depot.

Cripple Creek 1.

Leaving the Cripple Creek depot behind as we start this unique trip. This trip comes with narration of all the historical places we will pass with good information given and all questions answered.

Leaving the Cripple Creek yards.

The Colorado Midland Railroad station.

One of the old mines right next to the town.

The #2 engine took the 10:00 out of town and the normal meeting procedure is that the train goes into the wye, stops to let those people photograph your train and then will wye and go back into Cripple Creek.

Views of the town of Cripple Creek, elevation 9,494'.

Looking back down the tracks toward Cripple Creek.

Heading out into the countryside.

Old gold mines along our route.

The beautiful countryside between Cripple Creek and Victor.

One of the many gold mines along our route this morning.

The train rounded a large curve revealing many things behind it.

Gold tailings.

Excess rock left over after the gold mining process.

The forest along the railroad.

Looking back at the western edge of Cripple Creek.

The new wye track that was not here on my previous visit. The gold company at Victor needed the land so they did a swap and the wye at Victor was removed and replaced by this wye here.

The hills around Cripple Creek were dotted by glory holes. These were miners who did not have any claim but would dig a hole and sometimes they would get lucky and find gold. They would then claim this property and work their hole until they ran out of gold.

The track crew who is raking up excess ballast along the line this morning.

Somewhere in this rock wall is a gold vein.

Mines across the valley.

This valley runs all the way down to Canon City. We have reached our most eastern point of our trip. After a lecture which was very well done, we would back to the wye. But first much good information would be conveyed to us.

There is a large gold mining operation near the town of Victor at the east end of our route. The engineer decided to have the passengers hear the unique echos that the whistle of the train could produce in this valley. He started with three and it echoed three times. He then blew the whistle four times which was fantastic. He then did five times which was even more fantastic. Then he set his own record by doing it six times and it was spectacular. I have never had as much fun listening to a train whistle echo before in my long life.

First, one more view of the valley. Now enjoy the ride back to Cripple Creek.

The views back to the wye. Now the trip around the wye.

The trip to the end of the wye.

The view from the end of the wye.

The engine starts around the west leg of the wye.

The U.S. Forest Service has tried to cap all the gold mines that animals and people could fall into.

The trip around the west leg of the wye. Now the trip back to the Cripple Creek wye.

This is the trip back to the Cripple Creek wye. We will now photograph the third train of the day.

The third train of the day leaves Cripple Creek and now we will wye our train on the Cripple Creek wye.

Views from the wyeing of our train on the Cripple Creek wye.

Returning from the wye we ran by the old gold mine near town.

Then by the old Colorado Midland Railroad station.

Finally we returned to the boarding area.

Cripple Creek & Victor Railway engine 3 which pulled our train.

The train is being readied for its next trip. We walked down to Cripple Creek Candy and Variety store.

Elizabeth told us about this store which makes homemade fudge in thirty-five unique flavors including carrot cake and orange cream, as well as seasonal ones. I bought chocolate mint and Elizabeth bought carrot cake and chocolate mint.

The third train of the day is returning to Cripple Creek.

Our train running by our photo location as the fourth train of the day.

Colorado Midland Railroad Tunnel I once was in a camper and we drove through it. Next we head to Garden of the Gods.