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NRHS 2016 Convention Colorado Railroad Museum 7/21/2016

by Chris Guenzler

Our chase bus finished up at the Georgetown Loop then we proceeded straight to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. Once there, we had to walk in through the front offices then around to the pavilion where we had our lunch. I had barbecued chicken and a roll but they were out of drinks. After lunch, Elizabeth and I decided to ride the train around the grounds. We missed the first one but managed to get pictures of the train at several spots around the museum.

Colorado Railroad Museum History

Robert W. Richardson and Cornelius W. Hauck opened the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1959. Then, and now, our mission is dedicated to preserving for future generations a tangible record of Colorado's dynamic railroad era and particularly its pioneering, narrow gauge mountain railroads.

In 1964, the nonprofit Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation was formed to assume ownership and operation of the Museum.

The Alamosa Years 1948-1958

In the late 1940s when Colorado's narrow gauge railroad companies started going out of business, Robert W. Richardson began collecting rolling stock, railway records, and other pieces of equipment in an effort to preserve Colorado history. Bob's collection quickly outgrew the available space at his Museum in Alamosa, Colorado and in 1958, with the help of his friend Cornelius Hauck, Richardson moved the Museum to Golden.

Many Colorado railroad companies closed down in the late 1940s and 1950s, when falling ore prices and increasing operating expenses made business unprofitable. The Uintah Railway Company closed in 1939, the Silverton Northern in 1942, the Rio Grande Junction in 1941, the Midland Terminal in 1949 and the Rio Grande Southern in 1951.

The Golden Years 1959-1978

Once in Golden, Richardson built a replica narrow gauge railroad station to serve as the main Museum building. With the help of volunteers he started laying track for 50 pieces of equipment and built a motel to help fund the Museum. The Iron Horse Motel was originally located where the roundhouse now sits.

Growing the Collection 1979-1990

With the help of Museum trustee Cornelius Hauck, volunteers and railfans, Bob Richardson was able to purchase over twenty pieces of full-size rolling stock during this period. This included the Bob & Julie Shank collection from Durango, which brought in the rare and unique narrow gauge motor cars Geese Nos. 6 & 7. Encouraging its volunteer tradition, the Museum allowed volunteers to actively restore collection pieces.

The Expansion Years 1991-2000

Although Museum founder Bob Richardson retired in 1991, his legacy was just starting to grow. Recognizing the need to invest in infrastructure, the Board of Trustees started taking major financial steps to improve and expand the Museum. After hiring permanent full-time staff, the Museum built the Robert W. Richardson Railroad library in 1997, finished the track loop in 1999 and completed the roundhouse and turntable in 2000.

Into the Future 2001-Present

The Museum has experienced many positive changes since 2000. Interpretive signs have been installed around the property, the downstairs of the Museum has been remodeled into a temporary exhibit venue, restoration efforts continue at a renewed pace and the Museum continues to add historic pieces to its collection.

Our NRHS Visit

Denver & Rio Grande 346 built by Baldwin in 1881 as 406 "Cumbres". 406 was re-numbered 346 and reclassed in July 1924 three years after the D&RG was taken over from bankruptcy by the newly formed Denver & Rio Grande Western. Early in 1936, it was transported by standard gauge flat car to the Colorado & Southern Railway in Denver and started work between Denver and Leadville. On 25th July that year, 346 was working as a helper out of Como on an eastbound freight and, after cutting off at the top of Kenosha Pass, it headed east running light towards Denver. However, the engineer lost control of the locomotive, which overturned on a curve just below the summit.

In the Kenosha derailment, the engine suffered significant cosmetic damage, although the engineer was killed. After repairs in the Burlington/Colorado and Southern Denver shops, 346 returned to service with a new steel cab, new steam dome cover and sand dome, and various other replacement parts. It worked on the Colorado and Southern until April 1937, when it was shipped back to the Denver and Rio Grande Western. In 1947, the locomotive was sold to the Montezuma Lumber Company to haul lumber on a five-mile line between McPhee and Dolores. The following year, a fire destroyed the McPhee sawmill and ended 346's operational service life.

Following the sawmill fire, the engine was stored on a spur track in Dolores for nearly two years and was sold to Booker Junkyard in March 1948 and then to the Narrow Gauge Motel in Alamosa. In 1958, 346 was sold to Robert Richardson of Alamosa, who then sold it to the museum. After extensive work the locomotive returned to steam in 2007.

The steam engine started its first lap around the grounds. We then walked to the boarding area to wait for our trip.

Pictured above is Denver, Leadville and Gunnison 2-8-0 191 built by Baldwin in 1880 as Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway Company 51. In 1885, it was renumbered 191 and it retained that number when the railroad was sold to the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison Railroad Company in 1889. Ten years later, when the Denver, Leadville and Gunnison was consolidated into the Colorado & Southern, it was renumbered 31. Soon after, it was sold to Edward Hines Lumber Co., in Park Falls, Wisconsin where it was renumbered 102.

In 1902, the locomotive was sold to A.A. Bigelow & Company, in Washburn, Wisconsin, where it was re-numbered 7. It then retained that number when it was sold to the Robbins Railroad Company in Rhinelander, Wisconsin in 1906. After being transferred to the Thunder Lake Lumber Company in 1919, 7 was finally retired in 1932 and was donated to the City of Rhinelander. In February 1973, the locomotive was transferred to the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation for cosmetic restoration and display at the museum as it appeared when it worked for the Denver Leadville & Gunnison as 191.

Also present was Galloping Goose 2 built in August 1931 from a Buick "Master Six" four-door sedan with a 28 hp engine.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy 4-8-4 5629 built by Baldwin in 1931.

Rio Grande 346 completes the first of the three laps it would make on this trip.

A museum scene.

On the second lap, two NRHS members stepped in front of me blocking my picture. On this trip, the train made three laps around the property then pulled up and unloaded its passegers. We boarded but had to wait until 3:30 until our train would leave.

The interior of the car I rode.

Museum scene as we waited to leave. The train then departed after the NRHS cab rider was put into the locomotive cab. Now enjoy a trip around the grounds.

Our trips around the grounds. Now Elizabeth and I would look around the grounds.

Colorado and Northwestern 2-8-0 30 built by Brooks Locomotive Works in 1898. The railroad ran west from Boulder up the Boulder Canyon to Ward and Eldora. Freight traffic was not enough to keep the railroad profitable, so it advertised itself as the "Switzerland Trail of America" to entice tourist revenue, but finally went bankrupt in 1909. Its successor, the Denver, Boulder & Western had an even shorter life, going bankrupt in 1919.

In 1920, the operation was bought by Morse Brothers Machinery & Supply Company, in Denver, which traded the three engines to the Colorado & Southern in 1921. Re-numbered 74, the locomotive worked on the Colorado and Southern until 1943, when the last of its narrow gauge trackage was abandoned. Returned to Morse Brothers, it sat until 1948 when it was bought by the Rio Grande Southern. It had a brief life on the RGS until operations ceased in 1951 and the following year, was donated for display in the City of Boulder. In 2012, after a cosmetic restoration, it was leased to the museum.

The dome car monument that once was in Glenwood Canyon.

Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway 0-4-2 cog 1 built by Baldwin in 1890. During the 1930s, the railway began investing in diesel power, although 1 continued working on the grade until 1941. At some later date, it was donated to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs then in 1979, it was donated to the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation for display at the museum.

Coors Brewing Company SW900 C988, nee Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific 550, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1957. Coors acquired it in 1981.

Denver and Rio Grande Western 2-8-0 318 and and train. The steam engine was built by Baldwin in 1896 as Florence & Cripple Creek 8 "Goldfield". It was one of eight 36" narrow gauge 2-8-0s owned by the railroad hauling freight north from a Denver and Rio Grande connection in Florence, up Phantom Valley to the Cripple Creek mining district west of Pikes Peak. Ore then came south from the mines for milling in Florence or transfer to the railroad to mill in Pueblo.

However, the railroad began to struggle as competition grew from standard gauge arrivals. The line was finally abandoned in 1917 and the equipment was quickly sold to other narrow gauge operators including the Denver and Rio Grande, which bought six of the eight original Consolidations. 8 was re-numbered 428 and then 318 by the Denver and Rio Grande Western in 1924. In 1953, it was sold to Morse Brothers Machinery & Supply Company in Denver and the following year went to Alamosa for display at the Narrow Gauge Motel. It was bought by the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1958.

Colorado Central 2-8-0 40 and train. The steam engine was built by Baldwin in 1912 as the Guatemala Railway Company as 50. Merged into the International Railways of Central America in 1913, it was re-numbered 40 in 1928. In 1972, it was sold to the Colorado Central Narrow Gauge Railway Company, in Central City and five years later moved to Silver Plume as Georgetown Loop 40. The locomotive worked at Georgetown until transferred on a five-year lease to the White Pass and Yukon in 2000 for that railroad's centennial celebration.

Unfortunately, 40 proved too heavy for the WP&Y's loading gauge and it was returned to Colorado the following year, stopping at the Colorado Railroad Museum from December 2001 through April 2002, where it was operated on two occasions. 40 then returned to the Georgetown Loop in mid-2002 and operated for the next two seasons. The running gear was rebuilt in the off season of 2003-04, but 40's last run was on 4th October 2004 before moving to the Colorado Railroad Museum.

The No Agua water tower and section house.

Denver and Rio Grande Western 2-8-0 318.

Denver and Rio Grande Western FP7A 5771 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1955. 5771 and its two B units (5772 & 5773) were also the primary power for the Rio Grande Zephyr, the last non-Amtrak long distance train in the United States after the Southern ceased running the Southern Crescent from New Orleans in 1979. After the Zephyr's demise in April 1983, the three units hauled ballast and slag.

Between December 1983 and March 1984, they powered the Denver and Rio Grande Western's Ski Train, which ran fifty-six miles from Union Station in Denver to the ski resort of Winter Park and return each day. The train was inaugurated in 1940 and climbed about 4,000 feet passing through thirty tunnels including 6.2 mile Moffat Tunnel, the highest railroad tunnel in the country. After their short stint on the Ski Train, the two units performed a little more general service and were then retired. At that time, 5571 was the last operational F unit on the Rio Grande. They were donated to the Colorado Railroad Museum by the Southern Pacific, successor to the Rio Grande in 1996.

Rio Grande FP7B 5762 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1955.

Colorado and Southern rotary snowplow 99201 built by Cooke Locomotive and Machine Works in 1900 as 3. It was later re-numbered 0270 and then 99201 and was converted from 36" gauge to standard gauge soon after delivery, back to 36" in 1935 and then returned to standard gauge in 1943. It was rebuilt in 1949.

Union Pacific 0-6-0 4455 built by Lima in 1920. It was sold to Monolith Portland Midwest Company in Laramie, Wyoming in 1949, who retired it in 1970 and donated it to the museum.

Santa Fe 3-2-1 lounge-observation car "Navajo" built by Budd in 1937 for the original Super Chief. It was withheld from Pullman lease in November 1957 and subsequently sold to the Intermountain Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Denver and Rio Grande Western box car 3447 built by American Car and Foundry in 1904. It is lettered "Colorado Central".

Westside Lumber 3 truck Shay 12 built by Lima in 1927 for the 36" narrow gauge Swayne Lumber Company, in Oroville, Califonia, as 16. In 1940, it was sold to West Side Lumber in Tuolumne, California and re-numbered 12. At some point, the locomotive was then sold to Francis Cottie to become West Side & Cherry Valley Railroad 12 and then, in 1986, it was sold to the Georgetown Loop Railroad and transferred to the museum in 2004 from the Georgetown Loop in Silver Plume.

Westside Lumber Shay 14 built by Lima in 1916 as Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company 10 in Hobart Mills, California. In 1937, Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber went bankrupt and their equipment, including 10, was sold to the scrap dealer Hyman-Michaels in Chicago. Two years later, the locomotive was sold to West Side Lumber in Tuolumne and re-numbered 14. It was sold to Hal Wilmunder and became Camino, Cable & Northern 4 in Camino, California, in 1965. It then went to the Colorado Narrow Gauge Railroad as 14 in Central City, Colorado in 1974, and finally moved to Silver Plume to become Georgetown Loop 14 in 1981.

In 2004, following an impasse with the Colorado Historical Society, which owns the land on which the Georgetown Loop operates, the railroad announced it would cease operations. It planned to move to the Royal Gorge Route in Canon City, building a third rail so both narrow and broad gauge trains could run. Fortunately, the problems were ironed out and the Loop still operates although, in late 2004, 14 transferred to the Colorado Railroad Museum.

The steam train rounded the curve and put on a show as it passed the No Agua water tank.

Views of the steam engine as it made its way around the grounds on its next lap.

Another museum scene.

American Oil 0-4-0T 1 built by American Locomotive Company in 1920. Originally built for stock, this tank engine was shipped to the Standard Oil Company of Indiana in January 1921 to work at the company's Casper, Wyoming refinery. It was transferred to the American Oil Company in 1960 and worked in Casper until 1962, when it was donated to the museum.

Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose 6 built in January 1934 from parts salvaged from recently-scrapped 1, using a Buick body, Buick-6 engine and a non-articulated frame.

Denver and Rio Grande Western 2-8-2 491 built by Baldwin in 1902 as 1126. After being rebuilt, 491 initially worked out of Salida to Gunnison and up the Denver and Rio Grande Western Crested Butte Branch as well as the Monarch Branch. It also worked from Alamosa to Antonito over Cumbres Pass to Chama, New Mexico and on to Durango and the Farmington Branch. 491 was donated to the Colorado State Historical Society at Alamosa by the railroad in 1972 and was moved to the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1985.

Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose 7 is the last of seven Galloping Goose railcars; this was built in 1936 using a Pierce-Arrow 1926 body and a Ford 1936 V-8 engine.

The end of standard gauge sign. We saw the one in Antonito earlier this trip.

The steam train passing the roundhouse area of the museum.

A roundhouse scene.

Denver and Rio Grande Western business car 1 built by the railroad as a baggage car in 1879 and later rebuilt into a business car. It is lettered "Uintah Railway B-8".

Golden City and San Juan Railroad 8 ton narrow gauge switcher 3 built by Plymouth Locomotive Works. It worked for US Gypsum all its life until bought by the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1965. The "Golden City & San Juan Railroad" herald is another name for the Georgetown Loop.

The cab of Denver and Rio Grande Western 50.

Georgetown, Breckenridge and Leadville 55 ton switcher 4 built by General Electric in 1964 as a 50 ton switcher. It was formerly on the East Broad Top Railroad in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania then at the Durango & Silverton before coming to the museum in 2006.

Views inside the roundhouse.

Denver and Rio Grande 2-8-0 683 built by Baldwin in 1890 as 583. When the Denver and Rio Grande was taken over by the newly formed Denver & Rio Grande Western, it was renumbered 683. It was eventually replaced in main line service by larger locomotives and was last used by the railroad as a switcher in Salida.

In 1947, the locomotive was sold to the San Luis Valley Southern Railway Company in Blanca, Colorado where it was re-numbered 106 and was used until 1956. This was was a narrow gauge shortline chartered in 1909 to build south from the Denver and Rio Grande's standard gauge La Veta Pass line at Blanca to Taos, New Mexico. The line never made it that far, however, ending at Jaroso, Colorado, just north of the New Mexico border in 1910. It hauled farm produce, fertilizer and volcanic scoria until abandoned in 1958.

This is the only surviving standard gauge Denver and Rio Grande Western steam locomotive.

Denver and Inter-Mountain caboose 902, built by Denver Tramways in November 1924; Rio Grande Southern caboose 0404, built by the railroad in 1902; and Colorado & Southern refrigerator car 1113 built by the railroad in 1909.

With that, Elizabeth and I were finished at the Colorado Railroad Museum and found two seats on the first bus back to the hotel. Once the bus was full with an NRHS member in every seat, we headed back to I-70 with very little traffic until we passed I-25. As we crossed over the Union Pacific's 36th Street yard, we spotted Union Pacific 4-8-4 844, Rio Grande heritage unit 1989 and passenger cars.

Union Pacific 4-8-4 844 and train. We returned to the Holiday Inn and walked back to the Super 8 for one last night. Once Skip Waters returned to the hotel, I called him and told him to meet us on the corner of 36th and Quebec Streets. From there, we walked over to Country Buffet, had a good dinner and a nice talk about a variety of things. After dinner, Elizabeth and I walked to Walmart to get her more film. We returned to Super 8, worked on the light rail story and called it a night.