It appears the C&S had a surveyed depot grounds for "Wheeler" but never built a depot. The siding was to the north. A wagon road crossed the Ten Mile on a kingpost bridge, near a spur with loading platform. A C&S boxcar body was also located there.
The Solitude tank (50,000 gallons) was on the west side of the mainline, opposite the siding.
The biggest surprise on the maps was "sheep pens" on the east of the siding, extending up the canon side. A loading chute, clearly drawn with two ramps, suggests double deck stock cars were loaded at the pens.
Looking south from the south siding switch. The king post bridge over Ten Mile Creek and the boxcar body are visible just this side of the curve.
Mac Poor photo, in Digerness, The Mineral Belt, Volume II
A post abandonment photo looking the other direction, with tank in distance, bridge and car body in foreground. The car body appears to be a Peninsular 30 foot boxcar body. And in the distance, are those some remains of the sheep loading ramp, opposite the tank?
Gibson photo in Digerness, The Mineral Belt, Volume II
A 1937 winter view of a north bound freight easing out of Solitude siding. Wooden members of the sheep loading pens may be visible at right, near the caboose marker.
Otto Perschbacker photo, Lad Arend collection, in Colorado Rail Annual 12.
This July 1937 photo shows a Leadville bound train with helper, stopping for water at Solitude tank. This was the last C&S freight train operated east of Climax.
So, there were permanent sheep loading pens at Solitude as early as 1918. So how many sheep were shipped and how long did this operation last?
According to the book, Roadside Summit, The Human Landscape, by Sandra F. Pritchard:
"In September, 1917, two shipments went to Denver; the first filled 5 double decker cars; the second 13 cars; a final third shipment filled 9 or 10 more cars of the same type . . . a maximum of 80-84 sheep per car." The author specifically states that these were D&RG cars, despite the fact that the D&RG hadn't operated their Blue River branch since February, 1911. Just as D&RG boxcars show up in C&S trains into the mid-1920s, this might suggest that per the joint operating agreement between the two roads, D&RG business in the Ten Mile was handled in D&RG cars but by C&S trains on C&S track. Presumably, the sheep were loaded at the C&S Solitude siding. It is not clear whether the trains were moved east to Denver by the C&S, or south to Leadville and handed over to the D&RG for points east via Salida and the 3-rail track.
"(In 1918) a load of 2,600 sheep, grazing in the mountains near Wheeler, were shipped. Six trains were required to get the sheep over Boreas Pass".
"In 1936, 15 carloads of sheep were shipped from Solitude . . . opposite Wheeler, to Missouri markets after summer grazing."
So, we're talking a lot of sheep, inbound in late spring, out bound to markets or winter pastures in the fall.
Derrell Poole has suggested the C&S stock cars were not double decked for sheep hauling until the mid 1920s to early 1930s. The permanent sheep pen construction at Solitude and the vast numbers of sheep shipped, might suggest that they showed up earlier, perhaps in the mid 19teens, with the USSA application of hardware.
Best Collection, California State Railroad Museum in Grandt's Narrow Gauge Pictorial, Volume VIII, by Poole and Martin.
I clearly remember resting here, with my son, when we biked up the old C&S grade along the Ten Mile. But the bustle of activity at the Copper Mountain Ski Resort across the valley, as well as the Interstate traffic turning west toward Vail Pass, seemed to spoil the "solitude" of the place.
Solitude shows merely a station sign in 1917, but it does show A loading Platform on a spur, Stock Pens on a siding and a Water Tank on the main line.
HOWEVER!!! The structure inventory shows the following:
#1. Std. Sta. Sign. Painted
#2. Depot - 7'6" x 30'3" x 7' ht painted Outside. Old boxcar body Painted outside walls clad 1 x 6 T&G. Composite roof
1 door 2-6 x 6-6 of 1x4 T&G on 1 x 4 frame.
2 windows 18 x 29 2 lt. DH (Double Hung)
This Entry is circled and marked with the word "OUT" NO date listed
Bridge at mp 127.26 12'
2 blks 5'/8" sill. 4 post on blocking
#3 Water Tank 16' ht. x 24' dia P(ainted) on tower Painted.
No platform is shown in the field notes. Perhaps it was privately owned and not inventoried.
1894 - called "Wheeler" shows 15 x 24 tank with note: Burned in '08
1893 UP Receivers Inventory, Called "Wheeler" shows a 15 x 24 tank and 950' of siding.