Como Roundhouse Addition

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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Jim Courtney
This post was updated on .
I threw in the long discussion of the stored Cooke 2-8-0's and their disposition, not as an interesting aside, but to make a point (most of the discussion was taken from the Colorado Rail Annual No. 12).

With the collapse of traffic by the end of 1910, the 13 wooden stalls of the Como roundhouse became redundant; they were no longer required to house, inspect and service operating locomotives.  Logically, the wooden stalls could have been removed in 1911 or 1912, as they no longer served any operating purpose.

But the C&S Mechanical Department re-purposed the wood roundhouse stalls: Long term covered storage of (at that time) surplus, light locomotives, hedging their bets that they might be needed again should business improve. But it never did. It is likely that the wood roundhouse additions survived another decade merely because they housed the majority of the surviving Cooke 2-8-0's, "stored in white lead".

By 1918-1921, it was obvious that the stored Cookes (and one Baldwin) would never be needed again. The C&S management decided to convert these static assets into cash by sale, trade or scrap. When the last two locomotives were removed from storage in the summer of 1921 and moved to Denver, the wood roundhouse extensions again served no purpose.

I'd suggest that the majority of the wooden stalls were likely removed in late 1921 or 1922, and the remaining "third addition" to the roundhouse was merely a remodeling of a few stalls, one to accommodate the rotary. But was there another reason?

The other thing that happened in 1921 was the arrival of the three big Brooke's engines from the DB&W.

Is it possible that the retention and remodeling of a few of the wooden stalls was to accommodate these big engines? Did door heights and widths need to be adjusted to provide increased clearances, so the big B 4-Fs could be run through the wood part of the roundhouse to access the turntable from the depot? And to allow a covered area to work on the locomotives, out of the wind and snow?

The B 4-Fs were primarily assigned to the west end and generally operated with engine crews that worked out of Como. We know that the 75 fit into one of the "new" wooden stalls, because it was trapped there in the 1935 fire.

Would any of the B 4-Fs actually fit in one of the five stalls in the stone part of the roundhouse?

BTW, what does the phrase "stored in white lead" mean?  Would OSHA approve?
Jim Courtney
Poulsbo, WA
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Jim Courtney
In reply to this post by Chris Walker
Also Jim, Klinger's South Park's Gunnison Division Memories...1920 dated picture of the #67 conflicts with the date given in Goin' Railroading pg143 which gives the Romley TT incident as 21st Feb 1918, the loco not recovered until Spring of 1918.

Yes, I noticed, Chris. All of the photos in a later chapter of Tom's book also carry dates with the same month and day, but 1920 as opposed to 1918. All the retrieval photos are credited to Andy Anderson; perhaps Andy dated the photos from memory and missed the year by a couple.

Tom's caption for the number 67 Como photo is interesting though. After the 67 was retrieved from the mountainside, it had to be gingerly hauled down to Buena Vista. Then the C&S had to negotiate with the D&RG to move the wrecked locomotive and tender up the D&RG's 3-rail mainline to Leadville. Was it moved on its own wheels or did the D&RG insist on loading it onto standard gauge flat cars for that part of its journey?

Once on C&S 3-foot rails at Leadville, the 67 and tender had to be hauled over Fremont and Boreas passes to just get it to Como, so it could rest and have its picture taken!

We do know that it eventually made it to Denver, was shopped and put back into service:

http://digital.denverlibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15330coll22/id/42254/rec/10

Otto Perry photo, Denver, May 31st, 1925


I finally understand, comparing the two photos, why 67 in 1925 has that odd, flat topped steam dome. Looks like it came off a Cooke 2-6-0 (probably did come off a scrapped Cooke 2-6-0).

Also looks to be a management / labor meeting going on below number 67's cab.

Jim Courtney
Poulsbo, WA
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Keith Hayes
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
You guys are all the BEST.
Keith Hayes
Leadville in Sn3
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Fatbiker52
When you guys get into a subject like This you all go full bore. It's simply amazing to me the amount of information you just give out to digest. I don't  quite the home libraries like most of you do and I'm slowly learning how search the Denver Public Library files. Even at my age I am learning new things. Please keep the flow going!
All my best
Fred Cotterell
Stuck in Alabama
But my heart is in
Colorado.
Superintendent
C&S Kebler pass Subdivision
The Kebler Pass Route
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

ComoDepot
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
White lead is a lubricant.

Property taxes may have been an issue, they certainly were later.
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Mike Trent
Administrator
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
Hi Jim,

I don't think the B-4-F class was generally assigned to the West End (before abandonment in '37) but it doesn't matter, because inbound freight Extras from both Denver and Leadville arrived the same days in Como anyway.  Anywhere from six to 8 locomotives plus the emergency passenger engine would have overnighted in Como on "train days".

There were only four of the stalls in the stone roundhouse available anyway, as there was no track in one, and the emergency passenger engine would have been in another.

The stall adjacent to the rotary
stall would probably have been a good place to do minor adjustments and repairs on the bigger engines, but the B-4-F class could have fit through the doors of the stone roundhouse. Length would have been an issue, especially with a snowplow. But it's pretty clear that leaving the doors open would not have been much of a concern.

So East End, West End isn't really an issue as none of the big engines were ever based in Como, but it was always a destination.

With #537 as a 4th heavy engine, any two of the four would have been just as likely to be paired out of Leadville or Denver at any time.
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Jimmy Blouch
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Mike Trent
Mike Trent wrote
Chris, yes, Klinger's date is incorrect, as Sam Speas himself was on the engine when it wrecked on February 21, 1918, he would know, and the accompanying photos and text attest to the date explicitly. Sam said the engine spent several months there before it was recovered.

By the same token A A Anderson was engineer on the work train that retrieved #67, information taken from his time book shows year as 1920.

Jimmy
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Chris Walker

Thanks Jimmy for pointing that out, written form vs oral history: the CRRA #12 The South Park Line gives also the 21st Feb 1920 date.

I am now all too aware of discrepancies in memory recall of events more than 35 years ago.
UpSideDownC
in New Zealand
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

South Park
  I have never forgotten a thing.  At least that is how I remember it.  
"Duty above all else except Honor"
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Jim Courtney
In reply to this post by Mike Trent
So East End, West End isn't really an issue as none of the big engines were ever based in Como, but it was always a destination.


Okay, Mike,

You've got me confused all over again! Many times you have made the point that west end engine crews lived and were based in Como, while west end train crews (brakemen and conductors) were based in Leadville. You've made the point that the Como based engine crews were often pissed off, because the train crews insisted on doing switching on the east bound trips. The engine crews were often late getting home, shortening their layover with their family, before returning to Leadville the next day.

If the engine crews were based in Como, it would make sense that inspection and any tinkering on the locomotives would take place at Como, in the roundhouse area. Major mechanical issues with a given locomotive would require working it east to the Denver shops.

You've also described a back-up locomotive always under steam at Como, to cover the passenger train and mail contract.

Was there a hostler regularly assigned to Como in the 1930s? Other roundhouse workers at Como to service the locomotives, or did this chore fall to the engine crews? How about at Leadville?

Inquiring minds want to know!
Jim Courtney
Poulsbo, WA
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

ComoDepot
What about the Scott? photo from the direction of the wye with the lady in the buggy in the foreground.
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Mike Trent
Administrator
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
Hi Jim, yes, all that's true. I don't know why you are confused.

Locomotives which brought in Westbound freights were kept at Leadville between assignments on the West End, and the engine crews carpooled back to Como unless they had been called for the next day. There would have been a foreman at the roundhouse and there would have been at least a couple of men to hostle the engines, which would involve coaling, watering, and keeping the engines hot as needed.

One of the older men Todd and I were able to interview worked at Como servicing locomotives on what he called "train days", when both Eastbound and Westbound trains arrived at Como. Both he and his wife said they watched for headlights on Kenosha at around 5PM, which meant it was time to pack his lunch. The Westbound helpers would come in in about an hour, followed by the train. Usually the Eastbound helpers and train would come in after that, and they worked through the night servicing and hostling the engines. On other days, they might be shoveling coal at the chutes, or maybe just waiting for the next rotation of Extra freights. Times were hard, and work was always catch as catch can for those guys. The returning West End enginemen always went home as soon as they got in at Como. The East End guys had to lay over in Como.

Have I missed something? Maybe I have. The East End guys waited for their train the next day. Helpers were cut off at Kenosha and ran all the way back to Denver. West End helpers were cut off at Climax and ran to Dickey, then cut off again at Boreas before they could run downhill and go home. On Westbound runs when there was not a run the next day, a long drive back to Como awaited them at the end of the run.

That's how they did it. Tough life. But they had to do it.

If I've missed something, I'll try to clear it up.

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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Jim Courtney
This post was updated on .
No Mike,

This is exactly the kind of oral history that I've been trying to tease out, to better understand how things were operated on a daily basis.

The written texts describe the calamity of the 1910 shut downs and layoffs in a way to suggest that Como was a "ghost" division point, nothing but an empty roundhouse and sparse facilities with little in the way of human infrastructure to support the railroad.

So, if locomotives had minor mechanical issues when tying up at Como or Leadville, there was at least a small roundhouse crew to make minor repairs and to service the locomotives. At the two terminals, mainline engine crews did not service their locomotives (coaling, watering, sanding, turning). Once they tied up at the roundhouses, they were off, either heading home, commuting home to Como or (in the case of the east end engine and train crews) walking to a boarding house.  This was not clear to me before.

Do you have any idea where the east end crews and the west end train crews spent the night, while laying over in Como? Was there a designated railroad structure or bunkhouse, or did they use a private boarding house? The hotel next to the depot? Where did they take their meals?

Thanks for all your insightful posts.  What might seem obvious to you, usually fills some of the holes in my understanding of our favorite narrow gauge railroad.

You are of the generation that collected the oral histories of the railroad, from the men that operated it. Please don't let this information get lost as we all grow older and pass on. Post as many of those stories and recollections here, about the best place currently in existence, to preserve them for the next generations of C&S fans.

I learn something new from everything you and others post.

Jim

Jim Courtney
Poulsbo, WA
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

ComoDepot
There is a photo of the Hotel shuttered at that time. I would have thought no shortage of lodging opportunities.
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

ComoDepot
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
How did the West End engine crews get home?
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Mike Trent
Administrator
They carpooled over Trout Creek Pass. I know it sounds unbelievable. And occasionally they were called at 4AM at home for another run the next morning. Charlie Williamson, killed in #75 on Boreas in January 1936, was the only West End enginemen who moved his family to Leadville.

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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Mike Trent
Administrator
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
Thanks, Jim. This discussion group and blog is a wealth of information, and I am both happy and obligated to share anything I can to preserve it for the future.

The man who we were able to interview who had worked as a hostler in Como was named George Thiede. He was also brought up to us by Ed Hailey as a person we should talk to. He and his wife lived on a quiet street in Denver, and was about 10 years or so younger than Doug Schnarbush, which would have put him in his middle to late 20's in 1937. Funny thing about him was, he really didn't think he had much information we would be interested in. But I'll bet we talked to them three or four hours. He was right in that he didn't remember specific details about particular locomotives or operations, but he sure knew what he did in his time with the railroad. I always thought their comment about watching for the first headlight on Kenosha was great. But for them, the railroad created an opportunity to help ends meet during those hard times up in the Park.
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

Mike Trent
Administrator
As for laying over in Como and in Leadville, the railroad offered those crews very little if anything at all, they were on their own and simply expected to show up the next morning ready to go.

Margaret Coel said that her Dad Sam Speas and others would usually bring a blanket and or bedding and camp out at the old tenement ruins or on the hill below them when laying over in Como. The guys would bunk together out of necessity and somehow either stayed with friends or maybe in an empty place during those cold winter nights. In Leadville, there was a bunk house of sorts the guys could use, but they too had to bring whatever bedding they needed. In Leadville they always got in earlier than when they returned home to Como because they never switched Westbound. So they had a longer layover and if anyone had a little money, they were in a bar somewhere. Doug never had any money, he had a wife and kids at home.

All this caused resentment and even hard feelings toward the Leadville based trainmen, and even towards the East End guys.The Denver based enginemen on the East End had a much easier time of it Eastbound, as once the train reached Kenosha, the helper crews cut off and they all had a leisurely downhill run back to Denver while the West End guys had to fight their way over two passes in each direction.

Also worth noting is that in Como, the train crews from both trains had to fend for themselves as well. The conductors had the caboose, and the brakemen probably bunked in them too.

All this was simply the way it had always been done, and none of the guys had any real knowledge of why, and none felt there was a thing that could be done to change any of it.

Hard way to make a living.
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

ComoDepot
In reply to this post by Mike Trent
I remember Gertrude telling me they had moved to Leadville in the 20's they would come to Como to see their Grandparents and the old man died in 1930.

I assume the car pooling was in the last few years, my Grandfather was a coal miner at the time and nobody had money for a car. So they could not have been that bad off, relatively. Wonder what they did in the winter.
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Re: Como Roundhouse Addition

South Park
  If one drove a dirt road equivilant of 285 from Como to Buena Vista
and on up to Leadville in 1935, how long would that drive look like ?
I can imagine a 3 hour run .....

  And if the return back was the next train run, how did they get a car
back to Como to return the next time ???  

"Duty above all else except Honor"
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