Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pueblo Railroading

Day 53: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Pueblo and Railroads: 10 miles

I didn't make it out of Pueblo today. I got to talking to some interesting people, and doing some interesting exploring. All of it having to do with trains.

Let's start with the train station. It's a beautiful building, both inside and out. Unfortunately, passenger train service is not available. The station is privately owned, and the owners have a lot of money: they're trial attorneys.

Pueblo depot
Pueblo's depot has been meticulously restored.

Artist at work
Artist at work

waiting room
The waiting room is now used as a banquet hall.

magnificent interior
The interior woodwork is magnificent.

The second floor, which has offices, is also gorgeous.

The door to an office was ajar, so I went in. Inside I found the president of Rio Grande Yard, a for-profit company involved in railroad-preservation matters. He's also a member of the Pueblo Railway Foundation, a non-profit that runs the Pueblo Railway Museum. We spent half an hour talking about their activities and the state of railroad preservation in Pueblo.

The door was ajar.
The door was ajar. I went in.

Gerald Dandurand
President Gerald Dandurand was at work.

On the track side of the stations sits 2912, a Northern (4-8-4) that was built by Baldwin for the Santa Fe in 1944 and was donated to the city of Pueblo in 1954. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to it. As you can see in the photos, the valve gear and driving rods have been removed (they're in storage) and the cab has been gutted. The locomotive and tender are festooned with strings of Christmas lights. It's a sad sight. It would cost several million dollars to restore it to operating condition, and it would then have nowhere to go, as the big railroads have shown no interest in it.

2912 has suffered
2912 has suffered from its years of exposure to the weather.
A cosmetic restoration will cost $250,000.

Proud but impotent
Proud but impotent

no driving rods
The valve gear and rods were removed for inspection of the bearings.

2912 cab is gutted
There's not much left in 2912's cab.

Several of the Railway Museum's cars sit on storage tracks near 2912. If you look closely, you can find some dual-gauge trackage that is left over from the narrow-gauge days of the D&RGW.

The Railway Museum's yard and engine house is not far away. It contains a regular melange of equipment. Perhaps the most interesting are the high-speed railway test vehicles that were developed and tested at a site, not far from Pueblo, that is administered jointly by the American Association of Railroads and the US Department of Transportation.

the Rohr
Riding on a cushion of air, the Rohr
used a linear induction motor for propulsion.
The centered rail acted as the stator.

the Grumman
The Grumman, a rather ungainly contraption,
rode on a cushion of air in a U-shaped channel,
and was also propelled by air.
Its target speed was 300 mph.

the Garrett
The Garrett car ran on rails and used a linear induction motor for propulsion.
The full-power button on the dashboard is labeled Psalm 23.
The nose damage occurred when it ran through a wall.

GP7 locomotives
Two of the museum's three GP7 locomotives

GP7 engineer's controls
A look at the engineer's controls on a GP7.

locomotive batteries
Ron said these GP7 loco batteries cost $2600 new; scrap value is $600.

Two of the museum's cabooses

Closely coupled
Closely coupled

The museum has several speeders.

Studebaker buggy
The Studebaker buggy does not run on rails.

You can find more information about many of the cars on the Railway Museum's car roster by clicking here.

A couple of tidbits not mentioned there: The crane is rated at 40 tons. When it was US Army equipment, the operator's certificate only qualified him for 20-ton equpment. So the 40 on the boom was painted over with a 20 so he could operate the crane. And the trolley car was purchased by the aforementioned lawyers in the hope of convincing the city to install trackage in a historic district, and run the trolley there. The city didn't go for it.

Across the street from the railroad station is the old D&RGW freight house. It is now home to the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center, which includes a section on railroading in and around Pueblo. I arrived just as the museum was closing; but a volunteer told me to wheel my bike inside, and she gave me a personal tour of the museum. Cool!

D&RGW freight house
The D&RGW freight house

The D&RGW used to have a 49-stall roundhouse about a quarter of a mile from the station. Unfortunately, it is long gone. For a few interesting photos of the old railroading days in Pueblo, go here and here.

rail-side shack
This rail-side shack appears to have been constructed from an old boxcar.

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