For years I wondered what purpose the single wire line
served that ran through the Alpine Tunnel, when the telegraph
line ran on poles OVER the mountain.
We know that the telegraph was operational all the way to
Gunnison before the tunnel was bored through. An alternate
short cut in the case of line trouble over the top ?
When I got my copy of Klinger's book, showing a CD 126
from the John Hallinan collection, said to have been taken out
of the tunnel, I did believe it. I have dug and hunted the entire
mainline from Waterton to Gunnison and CD 126's were not
used anywhere by the South Park. For reasons beyond my
current knowledge, whoever was buying glass for the South
Park had a strong connection with Hemingray and all their early
glass was supplied by them, not Brookfield (mfr's of the CD 126).
Later still, a period photo surfaced, showing a CD 126 on a sidepin
at the mouth of the showshed, providing provenance for the use of
them at the tunnel location.
Now, the D&RG bought and used strictly Brookfield glass and
one can clearly see the same CD 126's in use in this early shot
along the Arkansas.
The more I think about this, the more I am led to wonder what
part the D&RG might have had in some telegraph system maintenance
during the time they were sharing rails with the South park into
Leadville and Gunnison. One rarely hear, reads, or sees any evidence
of D&RG use of the Alpine Tunnel line, yet it is known they used
Insulators known to be used on the Chalk Creek-to-Gunnison line
are CD 133.4 1871 Patent "bullets", as seen on right. These were
original construction, and ...
126.4 1871 Patent WE Mfg. Co. marked units, basically Hemingray's
answer to the 126 Brookfield units. (seen on left)
So, the question is, ... what is known about D&RG/South Park
collaboration on the Alpine Tunnel line before the joint use agreement
was nixed ???
Understood. The South Park ran on D&RG track from Buena Vista
to Leadville. By exchange, the D&RG got trackage rights from Nathrop
to Gunnison. At least, that was the idea. The delay in tunnel construction
put the D&RG Marshall Pass line into Gunnison first, and the whole idea
fell apart around it.
But for the brief time the trackage rights exchange was a going concern
and the D&RG had an active access to the Alpine Pass line, just how active
were they ?
How did a wad of typical D&RG glass end up installed IN the tunnel ?
Why was a line run through the tunnel when the South Park telegraph
went over the top ???
Although the tunnel crews broke through on July26,1881 it took till the end of the year to finish the tunnel and lay rail through it.It would be mid July 1882 before trains ran to Pitkin.Why would D&RG want to use DSP&P rails when they already had a functioning line?
As set up by Jay Gould, the Joint Use Agreement provided for the D&RG to
swing up the Arkansas to Leadville, the South Park to continue SW to the Gunnison
country, each allowing trackage rights into those areas to the other. At the time
of conception, Gould held the cards to both RR's. But Palmer wiggled out of it
and sensing being trapped into a business limiting situation, built his own line
over Marshall Pass after buying out Otto Mears' stage road rights. As a result,
the whole thing collapsed and we know the results.
Flying in the face of the logic of the above is a wad of pre-1884 vintage D&RG
glass nailed up inside the Alpine Tunnel. It is some weird forensic clue of something
odd that happened in the very early days of the South Park's Gunnison line. Looking
for other known intel that might explain or show a pattern.
You could be onto something. The early year facts, as I know them,
is that the telegraph was operational (over the top) in 1880, nearly two
years before the tunnel opened. Photos from the period when the line
was operational and statements from pioneers like Uncle Bob support
the line being kept operational over the top until abandonment in 1910.
This leads me the think one of two things might have put that line THROUGH
the tunnel ....
1. It was a construction-related wire, and not kept operational once it was
no longer needed, or
2. It was a temporary line through the bore, perhaps built during winter,
when the line was down up on the mountain.
Of course, it could be from a time when the tunnel was being reopened
after being closed for a while ???
The insulator style dates to 1878 and later. If Hallinan's piece has an
address of 55 Fulton St. on it, it was mf'd. no later than 1882. If the
address is 45 Cliff St., it dates to the 1882-1890 period. Western Union
adopted the CD 145 style as their "standard" in 1884, and the 126 style
quickly dropped off the popularity list for most buyers and production
dropped. The style was kept in the catalogue into the teens and was
still finding buyers.
I should go have a closer look at the photo in Klinger's book to see if
I can rule in or out what vintage the Hallinan piece is. Does anyone have
contact with John to get a hands-on look at it ?
The telegraph line over the top of the mountain may have been handy while the tunnel was being built. It probably would have been a difficult line to maintain and perhaps once the tunnel was opened it was easier to run a new line through the tunnel.
Would this make sense? Probably does`nt address the glass insulators, I know.
As mentioned above, persons who saw this line still in
"as abandoned" condition told me the line was operational
"over the hill" from day one until abandoned by the RR.
It was operational (over the top) all the way to Gunnison
in 1880, nearly two full years before the tunnel was even
Disirregardlessly, the 1884 photo and the known example
of the same kind of glass say the installation was very early.
Why it used glass not used anywhere else on the South
Park line in this thru-tunnel "shoofly" is mystifying. The
fact that the glass was typical of D&RG lines leads me to
wonder if there is some connection. With all the crazies
that have odd documents and historical data, I was hoping
this thread might turn up a clue.
There was a light at the peak of the tunnel to let drivers know they were beginning the accent downwards. Could the wire have been to power the lamp, and earthed by the rail?
How would an oil lamp be maintained in such a location if it was not an electrical lamp? Been a while since I read about this originally!
I just reread the chapter in Mr Poor`s book on the forced agreement of track entitlements. Does anybody have photos of DRG using the Alpine tunnel route?
And if I may go on without checking the facts first. The tunnel closed in 1910? And the K27 came into operation in 1908? Only going on recollection and not fact checking!!! But if correct their would be a two year window where a K27 could use the tunnel.
So my real question is regarding this if my dates are correct, during this period of time, was the D&RG route between Denver and Leadville completely cut off through snow or landslides during this period? Because, I remember reading about the K regarding the Como roundhouse. It had suffered a major mechanical breakdown and could not be towed to Denver for repairs due to the track being closed between it and Denver and it could not be taken to Leadville for some other reason which may have been lack of facilities at the time. Or maybe the line was closed for other reason, I can`t remember, but the road to Denver was definitely closed, I recall reading. I am just trying to work out what happened. Or what it was that I read that made me aware of the missing and replaced doorjamb in Como, thinking it was to do with a K.
Chris, I do not know or understand the layout of the land or even the interconnecting maps to be precise. Somebody did mention in the DSP group years ago, 'rumour' of a photo a K exiting the tunnel.
But I wonder then, if a standard gauge snowplow on narrow gauge trucks can reach and pass through the tunnel, why not a K? Albeit a dead and empty K with possibly the drivers and or the connecting rods removed.
But for my individual pursuit too, perhaps the needs of the K to be on the Alpine pass route need not be the case either. For as I mentioned before, it was the road between Denver and Leadville that was broken, requiring the engine to be moved to Como for repairs.
So I am thinking between Buena Vista and Leadville. I need to and will learn about these things. Same as I did the depot, to reach understanding.
The D&RG kept plenty of 2-8-0's and ten-wheelers on the roster
for lighter branch line duty well past the bringing on of their modern
steamer fleet. They could have easily run those anywhere the C&S
locos numbered below 74 ran. Was there a reason to ? I have never
heard of the D&RG using C&S rails from Nathrop to Pitkin, but that
is not to say they never did. There is a great story of the C&S Gunnison
run getting trapped on the west side of the divide by snow and bucking
the jammed Marshall Pass line for the D&RG, freeing up stuck trains
as they went, to get back to C&S rails at Buena Vista. If memory serves
those C&S guys were gone from Como for FORTY DAYS !!! Something
to think about next time anyone thinks they are having a rough time at
As I understand it, the Joint Use Agreement of 1880 put some D&RG
trains on the Alpine Pass line, but since the D&RG line to Gunnison was
operational before the Alpine Tunnel was bored through, how far did they
venture up toward Hancock before the Joint Use Agreement was nixed ?
This early history on that part of the line is not well documented, but
I suspect somewhere in the historical fog, someone from the C&S sourced
a barrel or ten of insulators from the D&RG, or perhaps it was a contractor
doing tunnel work ? ... or perhaps they sourced from the UP ??? Just odd
that this is the only place those were found on the South Park's rather extensive
run of wire.
Just a thought here. Could it be that the company contracted to build the tunnel started by laying their own cables over the top of the mountain so they could communicate with each other regarding matters relating to the digging. Company in question, I don`t know, a seperate company to the DSP&P. Therefore supplying their own sourced equipment? Maybe Gould was behind that too? That would be known.
I think the agreement was drawn up in 1879 because I read it only last night. That was the time frame that Gould had "invested into the DSP by providing stock and equipment but it is not known in what form this took place," No doubt misquoting Mr Poor but the gist is there.
The photo dates to 1884 of the insulator at the mouth of the snowshed.
Is anything known about who was behind the various contracts ???
What I do know is that in a dozen trips over 30 years, I have scoured
most of the South Park mainline ROW from Pine Grove to Gunnison
looking for evidence of what insulators were used. Remarkably, the
1871 Patent "bullet" as shown above was bought in a vary large quantity
and used over the entire distance on the mainline on the original construction.
Never found a single CD 126 "blobtop" anywhere on the line, but they
were all over the D&RG system. WU quit using the 126 as their "standard"
in 1884, adopting the familiar "beehive" shaped CD 145, and while the
126 did not die off, it's purchase and use did drop off dramatically after
I don't know .... probably never know the answer. Just looking at this
weird bit of evidence makes me wonder what the backstory was ....