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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. Once there, we had to walk in through the front offices then around to the pavilion where we got 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.

Colrado 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, Colorado.

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

D&LG 2-8-0 191 and Galloping Goose 2.

CB&Q 4-8-4 5629.

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 we will look around the grounds.

Colorado and Northwestern 2-8-0 30.

The dome car monument that once was in Glenwood Canyon.

Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway 0-4-2 cog 1.

Coors Brewing Company SW900 C988.

D&RGW 2-8-0 318 and train.

Colorado Central 2-8-0 40 and train.

The No Agua water tower and section house.

D&RGW 2-8-0 318.

Rio Grande FP7A 5771.

Rio Grande FP7B 5772.

Colorado and Southern rotary snowplow 99201.

Union Pacific 0-6-0 4455.

ATSF observation car Navajo.

Colorado Central boxcar 3447.

Westside Lumber Shay 12.

Westside Lumber Shay 14.

The steam train rounds the curve and puts on a show as it passes the No Agua water tank.

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

Another museum scene.

American Oil 0-4-0T 1.

Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose 6.

D&RGW 2-8-2 491.

Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose 7.

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

The steam train passing the roundhouse area of the museum.

A roundhouse scene.

Uintah Railway observation car B-8.

Golden City and San Juan Railroad 3.

The cab of D&RGW 50.

Georgetown, Breckenridge and Leadville 55-tonner 4.

Views inside the roundhouse.

D&RG 2-8-0 683.

Denver and Inter-Mountain caboose 902, Rio Grande Southern caboose D404 and Colorado & Southern caboose 1113. We were finished at the Colorado Railroad Museum and we 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 UP 4-8-4 844, Rio Grande heritage unit 1989 and passenger cars.

UP 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 and 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.