New Alpine Tunnel Book + Platte Canyon Construction Question...
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For those of you who have not seen it yet, author Michael Brown has just published a new volume entitled "Across the Great Divide – the History of the Alpine Tunnel in Images," which if I understand correctly, just came out in September 2019.
The book consists of (128) pages, with only (4) pages involving any text, the rest simply being a compilation of various photographs and station layout diagrams, approximately 90% of which have been seen previously in other publications. The title is somewhat misleading in that the book actually covers the entire South Park line to Gunnison and beyond, and relatively few pages are dedicated to Alpine Pass and the tunnel itself. The reproduction values are fairly good, and the main positive point on this book is seeing all of these many photographs collected together in one volume. The gentle criticism I would make is that most captions only consist of several words at most, and very few photos are accredited to their original photographer, or to the collection from which they were derived.
The book is readily available on Amazon.com and other sources in paperback at about $18.95. I do recommend this book, but also recommend that you manage your expectations in terms of hoping to add any detailed information to your reference library.
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All that being said, I did see one photograph that is entirely new to me, and judging from the composition, I suspect it may be an enlargement from a portion of a larger view. It is simply described as "DSP&P construction train in the Platte Canyon." Due to the relatively low quality of the original photograph, or at least its published reproduction, it is difficult to make out many details, but it appears to be an early DSP&P engine pushing a flat loaded with equipment and construction workers, and pulling one or two staked-flats loaded with cross ties or bridge timbers. Due to the low quality and deep shadows, it is difficult to make out the wheel arrangement of the engine, and the smokestack may either be a Diamond or Nesmith stack (I lean towards the latter), and the location (conjecture only) may be just upstream from the "upper bridge" (a.k.a. Deansbury Bridge) as the tracks approach "Big Boulder."
As several random observations, I am not sure that it is actually an original construction train, since the track does not appear to be all that raw (fully ballasted and such), and this may simply be a westbound work train going to repair a washout or to upgrade an existing bridge.
Has anyone seen this photo before, and do you have a better copy?
Does anyone have contact information for author Michael Brown so that I might ask him about this photo?
Unfortunately, the site does not include the photographer, but only provides the caption "DSP&P Railroad – Near Dome Rock – 1881," and that it is from the "Ted Kierscey collection."
It is very obviously not near "Dome Rock," but instead within the interior of Platte Canyon, although I'm not certain of the exact location. It clearly appears to be somewhere above the "upper bridge" (aka "Deansbury Bridge").
Re: New Alpine Tunnel Book + Platte Canyon Construction Question...
Also, there is a very "remote" possibility this photo is simply misidentified and this is actually within the Royal Gorge. For this reason, I would love to see a complete image of the original stereoview, plus any photographer's imprint on the reverse.
I feel your disconcert with the image being in the Canyon of the Arkansas not the Platte Canon certainly has worthy merit.
Unfortunately the image is poor, the rockwork, and sharp river bends don't shout out the Royal Gorge to me but then I rode that line on the modern higher speed line. I haven't been in the lower Platte and only can go on photos of such.
However in your favour, there are a couple of details that reinforce your supposition.
The Flatcars with added low sides, two behind with one out front, and the poor photo quality go hand in hand with this photo actually in the Royal Gorge.
The way the Crew is decorating the cars lends me to feel this was part of a series of Record perhaps.
Note that distinctive headstock on the Flatcar, there isn't the buffer block above the drawgear unlike any I've seen in DSP&P early photos. A quick glance at the several published DSP&P construction train photos show the Flatcars all flattopped.
More investigation is needed on this I think Thank you for raising that.
Thank you for your very well thought out and nicely detailed response.
First I want to stress that I am not saying for certain the photo is "misidentified," I am just wanting to raise that outside possibility as a potential explanation.
As background, I have both hiked and ridden the entire length of Platte Canyon many times on my bicycle while growing up in nearby Littleton, Colorado, and I feel very familiar with its entire length. Additionally, I have a very large collection of original stereoviews of Platte Canyon for the 1870s and 1880s, and I just can't seem to match this exact stretch of track in the subject photo with any images in my collection.
I have an even larger collection of original stereoviews for the Royal Gorge, and again, I cannot quite match this exact stretch of track to any that I am familiar with.
Regardless, I did find your comments on the nature of the equipment very interesting.
I will continue to search for images of the original stereoview, which hopefully will also include images of the photographer's imprint or any text on the reverse. Also, a full image of the original stereoview would include both the right and left images, and in some cases, one of the images is numbered and titled, which might be useful when looking at a sequence of numbered stereo views. I am disappointed that the truly remarkable images in the "Ted Kierscey collection" often do not include the name of the photographer, or images of any imprints on the back of the stereoview.
Going back to the original, it is labeled as being "Near Dome Rock" in 1881, and that simply cannot be correct since the valley at Dome Rock has opened up into more of a broad U-shaped valley, rather than the steep-sided canyon depicted in the scene. As for as the date being reported as 1881, this would make sense, considering how "settled-in" the track in the grade appears to be.
All I see are ties and possible bridge timbers on the trailing flatcar(s), but I cannot tell what is loaded on the flat car being pushed. If there are any rails, there are relatively few. While I cannot be sure, I am thinking this is a work train en route to repair a washout or upgrade an existing trestle. Regardless, I do not think this is a full-blown "steel gang" replacing iron rails with steel rails.