Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

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Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

Mike Trent
Administrator
A couple of days ago, Earl Knoob reported on the NGDF that Trainmen on passenger crews traveled between Denver and Leadville without changing to West End trainmen at Como. This is correct, my understanding is that Passenger Trainmen also traveled between Alamosa and Durango across the Division point at Chama.

Engine crews were changed at Como in both directions, of course.

In my opinion, this eliminates my earlier misunderstanding that Mail Service West of Como was not done after 1929. Surely the Mail Clerk/Agent would have traveled to Leadville as well, until abandonment.
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

Jim Courtney
Yes and no, Mike,

Not to belabor the point, but from 1917 until 1931, mail-RPO service was Denver to Como only. While the conductor and brakeman on the daily passenger train worked through daily (Denver to Leadville), and engines and their crews were changed between east-end / west end crews at Como, the mail clerk worked only Denver to Como and return every day, six days per week. Only one mail clerk was required for the "Denver - Como" RPO on a daily basis, Monday - Saturday, always back home in Denver in the evening.

In 1931, the daily passenger train was reduced to a tri-weekly run, west bound Mon-Wed-Fri and east bound Tue-Thu-Sat. This cut train crew costs and passenger locomotive miles in half. Engines and their crews were still changed at Como. The trainmen and the mail clerk worked Denver to Leadville outbound, laid over in Leadville and returned the following day. This work pattern presumably lasted until passenger service was discontinued near abandonment. After 1931, the mail clerk still worked six days per week, but was back in Denver only every other night, in order to cover the much longer "Denver - Leadville" RPO. The mail clerk always got Sunday off.

Makes one wonder, how was the Sunday "Fish Train" crewed in the summer months of the 1930s? It was outbound Sunday morning to Grant, with the train crew and and perhaps the engine crew laying over at Grant. No RPO or mail clerk was in this Sunday only train.

The return trip was a very early Monday morning departure, but the Denver bound "Fish Train" crew usually didn't arrive back in Denver until after the scheduled Monday morning departure of the Leadville bound regular passenger train (the two trains usually passed each other between Sheridan Jct and Denver). This was likely an "extra" crew, as the regular passenger trainmen wouldn't be back in Denver and rested, in time for its every other day Denver departure in the crew rotation. I suppose the fish train engine and crew might have left the passenger train at Grant on Sunday afternoon, and run to Como light, to layover / service locomotive and then return light before dawn Monday morning to pick up the east bound train at Grant.

If I were to model the Platte Canon section of the C&S in the 1930s, it would always be a summer Monday -- a passenger train in each direction on that particular day.
Jim Courtney
Poulsbo, WA
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

ComoDepot
How was the mail delivered beyond Como.

I remember Gertrude Anderson saying they lived in Leadville for a while, before her Grandfather died so pre 1930. Brownie was an Engineer.
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

Keith Hayes
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
Jim, your scenario gives more weight to Darrell Poole's idea to modeling Buffalo. Not only would there be two--different-- passenger trains but there would also be a long freight train in one direction or the other (probably westbound on a Monday?) late in the day.

Seems like we all agree that the passenger conductor-brakie-mail clerk rode straight through Denver to Leadville in the particular period, and the engine crew and engines were changed in Como with east end engine crews being based in Denver and west end (Highline) crews being based in Leadville. I trust that the westbound train would wye prior to coming into Como, the Denver locomotive would cut off and the Leadville engine would couple on, pump up air, test and depart? Sounds like a reasonably speedy operation based on my recent experience at Cumbres.

In the Denver-Como RPO years would the train just run into Como and the road engine cut out with the RPO and the passengers flip over the seats for the ride to Leadville? Or, did the baggage car come from Denver and the train had to by wyed?

The fish train crews must have had overnight accommodation in the depot or pitched camp in the trees at the end of the wye? They had a whole day and evening to kill and fishing must not have been too bad in the stretch of river behind the river. I wonder if this was a choice assignment?

During the era of heavy Climax traffic, it appears that four-engine freights were common out of Denver. Photos indicate that two locos were on the front end with two locos cut in mid train. What a racket! Anyway, this has reinforced my understanding that the South Park was an expensive railroad to run with an undulating profile and numerous crests between Denver and Leadville. Is there a profile of the line in the C&S folios like the D&RGW has? The trip up the Platte is one long, curvy slog from Waterton to Baileys, even Webster before the climb to Kenosha starts. Then down to Como, back up to Boreas, down to Breck, a flat stretch (by comparison) to Solitude and then up to Fremont before the gentle descent to Leadville.

Mike would the eastbound trains spot coals at the chute at Dickey? Would these be cut out by eastbound crews?
Keith Hayes
Leadville in Sn3
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

Jim Courtney
This post was updated on .
In the Denver-Como RPO years would the train just run into Como and the road engine cut out with the RPO and the passengers flip over the seats for the ride to Leadville? Or, did the baggage car come from Denver and the train had to by wyed?

Photos by Dick Jackson in the late 20s suggest the westbound passenger wyed, before backing into Como. If a RPO-Coach was used, it was switched out and spotted on a spur behind the Stone Garage. The reduced train (baggage / coach) would be reassembled, a fresh engine and crew on the point, and the train would depart for points west, after the eastbound train from Leadville arrived. The east bound consist would likely "have the coach seats flipped", rearranged (baggage car added to opposite end of the coach) and the RPO-coach picked up from the spur and added to the middle of the consist. A fresh engine (or the engine from Denver, after being serviced) would take the point, and then depart for Denver.

On days that the RPOs were used instead of the RPO-Coaches, they likely ran straight thru, each direction. The mail clerk would leave the car just arrived from Denver and board the car headed to Denver, load any eastbound mail from Como, Alma and Fairplay, and head east, back home by evening.


Is there a profile of the line in the C&S folios like the D&RGW has?

In the back of Mac Poor's DSP&P there are profiles of all parts of the C&Sng lines. On the east end it was all upgrade westbound, 3% to 4% beyond Pine Grove. Eastbound it was all down grade, after the short Como to Kenosha climb. This made for a lot of light engine mileage and wasted money on coal and engine crew wages. When traffic was heavier in the 1900-1918 period, there was a lot of light engine turns to even out helper assignments, and a helper engine was still being permanently assigned to Pine Grove as late as the mid 'teens. It would be cut in to help a west bound freight to Kenosha, turn and run back to Pine Grove and help the next west bound freight; or run light Kenosha to Como, turn and help an eastbound freight to Kenosha, cut off and run light to Pine Grove to await the next westbound. By the late 1920's, trains were run so infrequently that there was no way to economize on helpers.


Mike would the eastbound trains spot coals at the chute at Dickey? Would these be cut out by eastbound crews?

And did the company coal come from the southern Colorado coal fields via Denver (hauled up Platte Canon, Kenosha and over Boreas), or was it trans-shipped by the D&RG via Leadville?


The fish train crews must have had overnight accommodation in the depot or pitched camp in the trees at the end of the wye? They had a whole day and evening to kill and fishing must not have been too bad in the stretch of river behind the river. I wonder if this was a choice assignment?

There were numerous small resorts around Grant, catering to weekend anglers, equivalent to today's B&B's. In the early years a fairly large hotel as well. The railroad may have had arrangements with one hosteler to accommodate the train crew.

As to fishing, multiple references state that it was popular for the Denver railroad officials to ride a business car as far as Grant, the train crew would spot the business car on the trestle over the South Platte on the tail track of the wye. Thus the railroad brass hat  "fishermen" would have accommodations for the layover as well as a choice fishing spot -- the observation platform of the business car (and the ice box on the other platform was well provisioned with food and beer)!!

Hmmm . . . I'm beginning to see the potential for Linn's other C&S Shapeways print, C&S Business Car 911.
Jim Courtney
Poulsbo, WA
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

Keith Hayes
Jim I am thinking about the Business Car as well. I have the Cimarron kit for 910, so maybe I should build that first?

Linn also scaled up his Gunnison-Salida model (not sure if there is a difference between the cars) build for Shavano service. Unlike the San Juan, which took an entire day to traverse the route and thus had parlour cars fitted with a buffet, the Shavano was a daily out-and-back train and the parlour cars had a larger end platform with a more elaborate railing. PBL sent out an inquiry to gauge interest in closed vestibule cars for Rio Grande Narrow Gauge name train service. I expressed interest in Shavano cars. Bill started on a styrene kit for closed vestibule coaches, and has tabled that project for a number of years favoring the brass route instead. No wonder as I doubt most of us would buy more than two models. Now Linn is making it awfully easy to get a set in Sn3 and I may have to exercise that option.
Keith Hayes
Leadville in Sn3
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

tonyk375
There is a window difference between the Gunnison and the Salida.  The windows on the vestibule end of the car are different.  This is on the right side of the car if the vestibule end is the front.  He offers both cars in HOn3 and the Gunnison in Sn3.  

Your build looks great, by the way!
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

ComoDepot
In reply to this post by Keith Hayes
The C&S Coal Car in the Roundhouse operated via the DRG and Leadville and through Como to Alma. I was told coal for the east end came through Denver.
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Re: Passenger Trainmen Traveled between Denver and Leadville

Mike Trent
Administrator
In reply to this post by Jim Courtney
Hi Jim, my understanding from Doug Schnarbush was that all coal came up from Denver. Some of it came from Trinidad, other Coal came from other operations, probably brought to Denver over the D&RGW. Today, it would seem improbable that it wasn't brought down from Wyoming, but I have never heard that said. Hol might know. But Doug said all the coal came up from Denver, and that the firemen always knew when it was Trinidad coal because it klinkered. They were all sure whoever had coal loaded into the narrow gauge gons tried to send Trinidad coal out of Denver because they didn't like it either. But there seems to have always been an "Us guys against the world" attitude in Como, whether it was about coal, or how the switching was done or pretty much anything else.

Setting coals on the docks was probably done by an East End crew, as they always arrived first on train days. That actually would have had to be done every train day as part of the routine.

As is almost always the case, it's possible that in earlier days, who could say if C&S gons were loaded out on the D&RG and through Leadville, but they weren't doing that in "modern" times.
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re: #4319

Mike Trent
Administrator
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by ComoDepot
Unless there is evidence to the contrary, my best guess on the history of car #4319 is that it was first in regular service systemwide, which could have included hauling D&RG coal out of Leadville and to and from Alma for a time. After the coal miner's strikes in the early teens, #4319 was probably set out at a place like, if not probably Dickey, holding hoarded coal for maybe 20 years. Eventually, it was emptied and replaced another old but worn out (probably phase 1) car in regular service. In 1934, it was refurbished and painted in Denver and placed in regular service. If it hauled coal after 1925 and to 1937, it would have hauled coal to Leadville, not out of Leadville, unless it was a consigned load for delivery with other Eastbound freight. It's final service would have had to have been on the Clear Creek Branch out of Denver, where it was again spruced up for display in 1940, with it's 1934 data preserved on the sides as a hint to it's past. The shop even duplicated the location of the car identification centered on the ends as was done on the 1901 cars.

Had it been in regular service over it's life, it would have been worn out and burned for scrap in the 20's or 30's like other worn out gons of all types. There were so many Phase 1 cars left after 1910, many if not most of them not sold would have been idle for some time while the railroad used newer cars in regular service. The C&S wasn't spending money on refurbishing 1901 gons after 1930 if they weren't better candidates than 1908 and 1910 cars that were too far gone.  

That it has survived at all is a miracle in itself.
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Re: re: #4319

ComoDepot
Now I think of it it was Jason who mentioned that, I do not recollect any specific timelines, but was told that the cars ran straight through initially on the DRG and then to the C&S at Leadville. I assumed it was after the closure of the Tunnel/Trout Creek. Mind you they could not have done that when Boreas was closed.

I was also told that coal in the later years came through Denver from Trinidad. There was also mention that Trinidad coal was more expensive and the Railroad subsidised it for employees.

Must have got through a lot of coal, even when things were slow.
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Re: re: #4319

Pat Student
In reply to this post by Mike Trent
Mike

Why would you transfer coal from one narrow gage car to another narrow garage car?  Records show that the following D&RGW cars were consigned to Alma between April and September 1924.  These were cars that were moved from Sargents to Marshall Pass in hill jobs.  No idea how many more were moved in through trains.

D&RGW 3248, 1492, 9726, 1179, 1013, 3392, 9349, 1817,  and 3305.  Also 5948 and 5962 brought loads of "props".

Pat
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Re: re: #4319

Keith Hayes
Ohhh! An excuse to run a few 5900-series stock cars!
Keith Hayes
Leadville in Sn3
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Re: re: #4319

Mike Trent
Administrator
In reply to this post by Pat Student
Hi Pat. That wouldn't make any sense to me, either. Did something I wrote imply that it would?

I think it's quite interesting that those cars appear in the records. How many loads a week were brought into Como, and to whom were they consigned? Be interesting to know. Were they still in use after 1925? Do they appear in manifests outbound from Como, and if so, to where?