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Rio Grande Southern RR - Historical Timeline (1910-1929)


Below, in tabular form, is a summary of the history of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, which ran from Ridgway to Durango in Colorado. Each entry has references included, with the name of the book or document abbreviated. The references are hyperlinked to another page where full details for the references can be found.

This list is still under construction, and somes dates are only approximate. As I get through more of my sources, more exact dates will be used. Remember, this is just a beginning!

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1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s Post 1953

1910 - 1919

point, for fear of more injuries. The disasterous Cornet Creek flood in Telluride - here's a Leo Crooenbergs a photo showing the damage inside the office of the Western Colorado Power Co, near Telluride. Another couple of photos - p1   p2 of damage in Telluride.
Operator

Date

Event

Notes

Ref

Jeffery,
Rcv
1910 Primos Chemical Co opens a reduction plant at Newmire (later Vanadium) and a small town grows up around the mill. The vanadium produced was used to strengthen steel, and a by-product was found useful for illuminating watch dials. Ssj, p139
1910 The Porter Coal Mine, at Porter (mp 157) is destroyed by fire, due to arson. The RGS dismantled the yards serving it in 1912. [Fire] Rgs v9, p271
1-06-1910 RGS #18 derails while approaching the 86' high Butterfly trestle and crashed down the embankment, knocking out bridge timbers on the way. The crew survived with only minor injuries, although the #18 was badly damaged. [Accident] Ssj, p174
1-31-1910 Running light, RGS #12 hits a broken rail on the Bilk trestle and goes over the side. While the crew of the #12 lay pinned in the wreckage and darkness (it was late at night), D&RG #204 approaches with a train, runs onto the weakened trestle, and crashes down on top of the #12, along with two cars. The engineer of the #12, Al Bickford, died the next day of his injuries, while his fireman suffered broken bones and scalds. He was pinned in the wreckage for 5 hours. More details are in this newspaper article, published a few days later. [Fatality] Ssj, p175
Telluride Journal 2-3-1910
3-21-1910 The Telluride enginehouse gets (new?) doors at either end, and other changes. In the wonderfully folksy reporting, the paper said "Another Harbinger: The old shed down in the railroad yards, about long enough to cover 4 locomotives, generally referred to as the roundhouse. Has had the half dozen openings for windows on either side boarded up and the open ends have been equipped with large double doors, probably to shut out the sun and warm spring breezes. Snow, rain and blizzards have whistled through the engine house unmolested for many months and several years." Daily Journal3-22-1910
3-28-1910 Here's some details about the mill at Vanadium, from a local paper on this date. (I've also got some pictures of the site posted):
"The Vanadium mill has been in constant operation for two months without stop. 25 men are employed at the mill and 15 in the mine. The ore body is large, easily and economically mined. 30 tons per day are required to supply the milling plant. The ore being treated at present comes from claims located about 2 1/2 miles up Bear Creek, three freighting teams being employed in hauling from the mine to the mill. The company owns some 30 to 40 Mining claims extending down the river on either side for several miles and along the creek running back into the foothills.

"Upon taking over the plant under lease, manager Harold Boeriske, substituted fuel oil for coal in the heating of the immense roasting furnace, and though under present conditions the expense is heavy, the result are reported to be satisfactory. The oil comes from Salida from southeastern Kansas in tank cars, where it is drawn off into barrels and shipped to Newmire in narrow gauge cars, 40 barrels to the car, the furnace consuming from 20 to 25 barrels a day. The Primos Company is having narrow gauge tank cars built at its own expense for the evaporation of moisture and drying of the concentrates preparatory to shipments, and other purposes outside the roaster, coal is still uses as fuel. The concentrated product is shipped to Primos, Pennsylvania, where the vanadium is extracted in marketable form."
Daily Telluride3-28-1910
6-22-1910 Bridge 19-A (Dead Horse Gulch) burns, causing a 6-hour delay for the passenger train. General superintendent W.D. Lee (already back at the Southern?) had at least 50 men working on the bridge by 5am soon after, working to rebuild the 350' long trestle. This article, although hard to read, has many more details on the fire and delays. [Fire] Dolores Star
Daily Journal6-22-1910
Aug 1910 W.D. Lee returns to the RGS as its superintendent. Ssj, p90
Aug 1910 The Southern Pacific RR has surveyors camped a mile east of Franklin Jct, working on their second survey of a route into Durango. D&RGW Magazine, Aug 1910
Aug 1910 The std-gauge Farmington branch is shipping a lot of express fruit to Durango, 15000 pounds of early peaches and apples in a recent week. D&RGW Magazine, Aug 1910
Fall 1910 W.D. Lee purchases two specially trained 'Judas' goats to lead sheep into the double-deck stock cars during the annual fall stock rush. These two goats, named 'Billy' and 'Blondy' saved many hours of prodding sheep into cars. Billy was fond of eating chewing tobacco and was usually assigned the upper deck, while Blondy handled the lower deck. The goats led the sheep into far corners of the car, leave them there, and return for more. Sometimes Billy got onery and wouldn't come out, requirine someone to crawl in there on hands and knees to the run the goat back out. These memorable goats traveled together (they were inseperable) on passenger trains, in special crates. After many years of service on the narrow gauge, they retired after WWI to the Ritter Ranch near Dolores. Ssj, p204
c1911 The Boarding House at Montezuma's Glencoe site becomes so popular w/the RGS crews that the lumber co's manager has to ask the RR to stop only in emergencies, as they weren't prepared to feed crews and passengers. From that time on, there many unexplained 'engine troubles' around lunch time at Glencoe. Ssj, p392
2-17-1911 The Dolores paper quips: "The prosperty wave has struck the Rio Grande Southern as the carpenters are busy this week remodeling the section house. Partitions are being put in, also new windows and door frames; and just as likely as not the next time the official car, Montezuma, comes this way the section house will be mistaken for the depot." Dolores Star
10-5-1911 Severe flooding badly damages the D&RG's Silverton branch and main from Durango to Chama. Damage on the RGS is even worse, with nearly 50 miles of track and roadbed destroyed from Lizard Head to Dolores. Damage to the north was nearly as bad, with the expensive grade through Burns Canyon (north of Rico) completely wiped out. At least one of the bridges near Newmire (Vanadium) (34-? or 35-A?) was completely wiped out. Curiously (given the RGS' history), the only trains operating out of Durango were on the RGS, as far as Mancos. Fort Lewis has a photo of Lightner Creek bridge in Durango during the flood, but I guess it's no longer online. An article from the Telluride Journal has more details. Here's a photo of the D&RG bridge leading into Durango; it's loaded w/ coal gondolas as the railroad tried to save the bridge. [Floods] W. George Cook
Ssj, p141 Telluride Journal, 10-12-1911
10-31-1911 Service is restored between Durango and Dolores. [Floods] Ssj, p141
1912 (?) Telluride's engine house was used, during the winter, to store the monthly car of beer shipped to the town so it wouldn't freeze. On one occasion, RGS crews needed to push a dead 2-8-0 into the enginehouse for light repairs. The approach to the enginehouse was on a slight grade, and the live 2-8-0 ended up making 'a run' to get enough speed & power to move the dead 2-8-0. It worked, but then they couldn't stop. The enginehouse doors weren't open yet, and the two engines crashed through them and hit the beer car, sending it through the rear wall and into the river. [Accident] Ssj, p141
1-16-1912 Service is restored over the entire RGS. Total cost of rebuilding exceeds $174,000, and this time Otto didn't get to help - he was busy rebuilding the Silverton branch. [Floods] Ssj, p141
3-3-1912 Five slides came down near Ophir, holding trains 6 and 10 at Ophir with 4 engines, a wedge plow, a flanger, and 15 passengers. [Snow] Ssj, p266
3-6-1912 A work force of 57 men was shoveling out the Ophir slides when a huge rock slide came down on Telluride branch. Combined, these slides put the northern half of the RGS out of service. [Snow] Ssj, p266
3-8-1912 With snow still falling, and 87 men now working at Ophir, 8 more slides ran between Trout Lake and Vance Jct. Passengers were now stranded at Ophir and Vance Jct, and various freight trains stranded in drifts from Vance Jct to Rico. Then, another slide ran just below Ophir, killing 4 men, injuring another 5 (see article). Shoveling work on the slides ceased at this point, for fear of more injuries. [Fatality] Ssj, p266
Daily Journal, 3-8-1912
3-11-1912 Snowing hard again; Extra South and Train 7 were stuck a mile below Dallas Divide, Train 6 was stuck below Cima Summit, and Train 5 held at Dolores. The RGS was completely shut down. [Snow] Ssj, p266
3-14-1912 Montezuma Lumber Co's plow flanger is borrowed to try to open the line over Cima Summit. All of the RGS's own snow fighting equipment was stuck in drifts or derailed on the 1st Division. [Snow] Ssj, p266
3-15-1912 An RGS engine w/wedge plow and a flanger finally opens the line from Rico to Lizard Head. Montezuma Lumber Co's plow flanger, meanwhile, is damaged opening the line from Glencoe to Rico. [Snow] Ssj, p266
3-22-1912 The entire line is finally open again, after 19 days and much shoveling and slide clearing. Once the slides were cleared, Rotary #2 could be used, which reached Ophir on the 18th. [Snow] Ssj, p267
5-17-1912 RGS train #8, pulled by engine 12 and southbound for Placerville, turns over at MP 21, just north of Leonard, apparently while backing up Dallas Divide (per the newspaper reference - see below). The newspaper notes the roadbed all along Leopard Creek and the San Miguel river was in terrible condition. In some photos you can additional bracing and removed rail - looks like work had been done there previously. I'm unclear why the train, from Ridgway to Placerville, had reversed and was backing up this grade.

D&RG parlor car Alamosa, RGS coach-mailcar #200, RGS coach #250 and D&RG baggage car #156 all rolled and were damaged; rocks prevented the cars from sliding all the way down the steep hill; saving many lives. The Alamosa was on loan to the RGS - "free of rent" but the RGS was expected to pay maintenance and the $45/month salary of its porter (who can be seen, in uniform, in some of the pictures - I think).

Superintendent Lee came out form Ridgway with a special train, consisting of a boxcar and his business car Edna. Baggage and passengers were transferred, but the Edna derailed less than a mile from the wreck site; more people were injured in this mishap than the original turnover (which injured only one woman). It was re-railed and eventually reached Ridgeway.

Mr. Lee reported he went through all the cars, making certain there were no fires in the stoves or lamps. The express man elected to stay with the baggage car overnight, the express shipments being his responsbility.

However, fire started around 5 in the afternoon. The watchmen telegraphed for helped, but an engine sent from Placerville arrived too late to save anything except the baggage car. Officials were suspicious of arson and felt they had good reason to think so, but no prosecution of the suspected express man was made.

This was the most expensive passenger wreck on the RGS. The Alamosa was the most lavishly appointed parlor car on the road, having come from the Denver Pullman shop. It was fairly new, and the final bill to the RGS was over $12,000.

The Mercer-Kirkham-Turner Collection has been gracious enough to allow me to publish a rather extensive set of photos from this wreck, taken by John Walter Mercer, who was the superintendent of the Liberty Bell Gold Mine in Telluride at the time. There's some additional discussion on the NG Discussion List too, including a detailed newspaper article from the following day.
[Accident] K Turner

Rgs v10, p145<
Telluride Daily Journal, 5-18-1912/td>
1913 Additional sheathing is added to the operator's house on plow flanger 02, as the original house was too cold. Ssj, p267
1913 During this winter, rotary 2 manages to fall through the trestle near Stoner, tying up the line. Leo Croonenbergs snapped these: p1   p2 Ssj, p285
1913 Superintendent W.D. Lee converts a Model T automobile into the first RGS inspection car, RGS #1. Ssj, p321
1-15-1913 Inspired by the last winter, Andrew Rasmussen completes the rebuild of flanger 02 into plow flanger 02. A huge wedge plow, ice cutters, operator's house w/caboose stove, and air reservoir were added. Weight was increased from 28,000 to 40,000 lbs. Ssj, p267
Spr 1913 A group of Dolores residents projects a new railroad, the Montezuma San Juan Southern from Cortez to Grants, NM. A construction contract was given but nothing was ever built. Ssj, p393
6-6-1913 W.D. Lee's little inspection car derails, rolls down a bank, and then plunges into Bear Creek near Dolores. Mr Lee and his wife were only slightly injured, having jumped from the car on the way down, but Roadmaster Gilland was badly injured. The Dolores Star quipped that the car had "struck one of the 'shoot the chutes' stretches of track, for which the RGS is noted." Mrs. Lee henceforth refused to ride in the car, saying it bounced too much. [Accident] Ssj, p321
7-7-1913 Edgar Biggs, GM of the New Mexico Lumber Co, comes to Dolores and begins to arrange construction of a logging railroad into the company's lumber holdings near Dolores. Ssj, p393
8-1913 Edgar Biggs incoporates the Dolores, Paradox and Grand Jct RR, intending to build a line from Dolores to near Grand Jct, over Horse Creek Pass. It was also intended to build a line from Dolores to connect w/the 'transcontinental railroads' in NM. Surveyors got about 15 out from Dolores by Sept 10, and the Dolores Star as full of related news. However, like the other attempts in 1905 and 1906, this effort also came to naught. Ssj, p393
1914 With the success of plow flanger 02, ex-RGS flanger 03 is converted to plow flanger 03. Slightly heavier, 03 did not fair well, and was often found rolling down some mountainside. It was eventually demolished in a runaway on Dallas Divide in 1938. Ssj, p267
Mark Czerwinski
1914 During WWI, parlor cars were operated between Ridgway and Telluride. Automobile use increased after the war, and the parlor cars were discontinued. Ssj, p142
1914 During WWI, the Ridgway shops labored to keep the aging 2-8-0s and 4-6-0s operating, but often RGS locomotives ended up sitting in Durango or Ridgway while the railroad paid to use D&RG locomotives. Ssj, p142
April 1914 Meeting requirements of a 1913 Colorado law, the RGS completes installation of huge, carbon-arc headlights on 15 RGS locomotives, at a cost of $2,684. They was changed to incandescent headlights a few years later. Ssj, p141
7-27-1914 W. George Cook
11-1914 With its lumber stands exhausted, the Montezuma Lumber Co railraod at Glencoe is torn out, with rolling stock and locomotive #1 getting shipped to Caliente, NM. The company was officially dissolved on 11-16-1914, and the mill dismantled the following spring and sent to La Madera. Ssj, p392
1915 A 3-car spur is built 3 mi S of Vanadium, becoming known as Primos. It served an aerial tramway running to a Vanadium mine far above. Ssj, p139
10-12-1915 Part of the snowshed at Lizard Head burns. A number of D&RG cars were destroyed: 3540, 3532, 3490, 3116, 1845, 1369, 9152, 1102, 9246, 1056, 1167, 9076, 9294, 3351. [Fire] Fort Lewis College
1-14-1916 W.D. Lee goes to the F&CC, which was selling its equipment after its track was wiped out in the 1912 flood, to supervise loading of three 10-wheelers which the RGS was purchasing. These became the second #20, #22 and #25. Ssj, p138
2-1-1916 Pony truss bridge 64-A destroyed by a snow slide, and later replaced by a wooden pile structure, then concrete piers after approx 1920. Fort Lewis has what I believe is a photo of the truss's destruction. [Slides] Rgs v4, p460
2-10-1916 The RGS rotary is rented (for a "considerable sum") by the D&RG to plow the line over Cumbres pass through to Alamosa, then down to Volcano on the Santa Fe branch (or "Chili line"). [Snow] Alamosa Journal, 2-10-16
2-1916 Very heavy snow. Here's a few photos from Leo Croonenbergs. This photo is at bridge 58-B, about this time period. Here's more possible shots of the same train: p2   p3 [Snow] Crum, p258
2-24-1916 C.D. Wolfinger sends out a bulletin about the new F&CC locomotives, advising extreme caution if they had to be used on the older 30 lb rail, which still existed on some of the main and in many sidings, spurs and wyes. Ssj, p141
3-09-1916 The three F&CC locomotives arrive on the RGS, in Durango. They had been overhauled in Alamosa and test run in Chama before arriving. Ssj, p141
1917 Railway Post Office (RPO) cars cease to be used on the south end of the RGS. For a while, RPOs were sent from Salida to Telluride. Ssj, p138
1917 WWI puts an end to the "Arond the Circle" tourist business on the D&RG and RGS lines. Ssj, p160
1917 The RGS does it's part by participating in a Liberty Bond drive during WWI. D&RG #240, dressed in flags and posters, pulled a special train over the railroad to promote the bonds. Ssj, p201
5-25-1917 Roadmaster W.E. Pears is killed by a very sudden and fast-moving earthen slide at Ames. There are details in this newspaper article from the Mancos Times-Tribune. [Fatality] Mancos Times-Tribune, 5-25-1917
6-6-1916 New sand drier is installed at the Ridgway shops, and the turntable is equipped with a device that prevented engines from derailing while entering or leaving the table. Daily Journal Telluride 6-6-1916
8-31-1917 W.D. Lee, RGS superintendent, retires. Ssj, p90
1917 RPO (Railway Post Office) route between Ridgway and Durango apparently is discontinued, replaced by a Ridgway-Telluride route, which lasts until 1927, and is re-instated from 1931-1933. W. George Cook
1-31-1917 A memo from C.D. Wolfinger (RGS superintendent), notes the following - "TO ALL AGENTS: Hereafter, please include on your monthly requisitions, a supply of toilet paper for your water closets. This is much more desirable than the use of "Montgomery Ward" catalogs, newspapers, or impression books and does not fill up the vaults as quickly." Offered without further comment... :-) Jerry Day
1918 When WWI ended, the Ridgway shops were closed, and all major repairs were hired out to the D&RG's Alamosa shops. Ssj, p142
1918 The Black Hawk-Enterprise branch above Rico, with its 5% grades, is abandoned. Ssj, p265
7-28-1918 Here's a Conductor's Wheel Report from this day (you'll need RGS membership to view it).
9-19-1919 Engineer Ralph Peake is killed when the trestle at Lightner Creek (outside Durango) gives way and D&RG #217 rolls into the flood-stage creek. The trestle was nearly covered with water, but Peake had stopped and inspected it before proceeding, and he thought the bridge was sound. His fireman, John Adams, swam to safety. Leo Croonenbergs captured the wreck in these photos: p1. p2. [Fatality] W. George Cook
Ssj, p196

1920 - 1929

Operator

Date

Event

Notes

Ref

Jeffery,
Rcv
Jan 1920 Bob Parmenter describes his first trip over the Ophir trestles, as fireman for Burt Nash on #22: "It was a cold January night, colder than the dickens. We went over Ophir Loop in the small hours of the morning. I will always remember that trip as it was my first run over the line. I knew that there had not been a bridge gang on the Southern for four or five years. No one knew for sure just how safe those bridges were. I have a fobia (sic) about anything that is high. But there I was on the lead engine of a double-headed freight as it blasted upgrade. It was a clear, moonlit night and it must have been 15 deg below zero. The bridges on the side of the cliff creaked and popped as only a wooden trestle can do in cold weather. I looked down 1000 feet into the valley and hoped the bridges lasted one more trip." Ssj, p361
5-21-1920 Floods damage the RGS. Leo Croonebergs took this photo of #22 on May 20th, rolled nearly into the river near Dolores. I'm guessing the derailment was caused by the flooding. [Flooding] W. George Cook
1921 The D&RG is reorganized as the D&RGW after the Western Pacific failed to pay interest its construction bonds, which had been guaranteed by the D&RG. Part of the deal involved transfer of the RGS stock and $1,777,000 of RGS bonds to the WP. These ended up back in the D&RGW's hands, where they remained on the books for years with a value of just $1. [Financials] Ssj, p142
3-17-1921 The Dolores Star reported a freight train wrecked near Stoner. Apparently, the tender rolled but the engine did not. Delayed the day's passenger train between Dolores and Rico 6 hours late. [Accident] Dolores Star
W. George Cook
4-13-1921 The Dolores Star reported a baggage car overturning on the passenger train from Durango. No one was hurt. [Accident] W. George Cook
4-21-1921 The Dolores Star reported a southbound freight was wrecked near milepost 83; five cars left the track, and the northbound passenger was held at Dolores. [Accident] W. George Cook
7-7-1922 The 8-pocket Burnett & Clifton coal chute at Ute Jct burns. This chute was basically the same as the one at Vance Jct, as I understand. It was a replaced with a 2-pocket chute of a different design. [Fire] Rgs v9, p192
Fall 1922 The stock rush business was so good this year that two Silverton Northern locomovites were leased. Several aging C-16s were also pressed into service, moving from the deadline where they'd sat for several seasons of disuse. No engines were available from the D&RG that year due to a shopmen's strike and their own stock rush. Ssj, p204
1923 Production from the mines around Vanadium drops drastically after a richer ore is discovered in Africa. Ssj, p139
9-3-1923 Conversion of the Farmington branch (south of Durango) from std-gauge to narrow-gauge is completed. This greatly increased oil traffic, as tank cars being shipped from Farmington, NM to refineries in Salt Lake City could now be routed over the RGS. D&RGW Magazine
1-1924 The US Forest Service announces sale of 400 million board feet of yellow pine lumber 7 miles above Dolores. With its adjancent holdings, the New Mexico Lumber Co quickly acquires the rights. The forest was so vast that it was estimated to require 18 years to cut the lumber. At the same time, company holdings in El Vado were being exhausted. The time had finally come, the old surveys from 1913 were dusted off, and railroad construction began. By October the mill at McPhee was test-cutting, and by November the associated logging railroad had reached its first camp - Horse Camp. Ssj, p394
3-7-1924 New Mexico Lumber Co begins grading for their railroad, from Dolores to McPhee, then on into the lumber stands. The branch eventually reached approx 43 miles. Track laying commenced in April, using 40lb rail. Rgs v7, p227
8-14-1924 First oil shipment from the newly narrowed Farmington branch moves onto the RGS. It reached Rico on 8-17. W. George Cook
Nov 1924 Twenty miles of track are upgraded with heavier rail, which proves of great help in handling heavier loads. G. White
D&RGW Magazine, Nov 1924
Nov 1924 The Ridgway area is improved - the depot and all shop buildings are repainted, and work is being done to clean up the grounds, for "beautifying the appearances of the company property." Who would've thought it - on the RGS?!. The article also mentions improvements inside the roundhouse, including new paint, lockers, and a new tool room. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Nov 1924
1925 Superintendent W.D. Lee's RGS #1 inspection car is wrecked (again) and is never rebuilt. [Accident] Ssj, p321
Jan 1925 Freight traffic from Rico looks good; 20 cars of orw were shipped to Durango this month, and Rico station showed $1000 increase from Jan 1924 in income. Light repairs being made to the water tank and coal chutes at Rico. J.E. Lynton
D&RGW magazine, Mar 1925
Feb 1925 Freight traffic in oil (from Farmington) and lumber (from McPhee) has increased so much that 9 freight crews are working between Durango and Rico, up from 3 crews the year before. The 9 crews does not include those handling the mixed run or Calumet mine runs. Oil and lumber shipments are expected to continue increasing. C.E. Quandt
D&RGW magazine, Feb 1925
Apr 1925 A rock slide at Vance Jct completely demolishes a coal car (gondola). [Accident] G. White
D&RGW magazine, Apr 1925
May 1925 Although traffic looked good back in Feb, now the D&RGW magazine reports that traffic is pretty slack; oil trains are the best bet, running about every day. The Ridgway shop schedule may be cut from 6 to 5 days/week to reduce costs, and last month (April) the railroad laid off 6 fireman, and moved 2 others to the extra board. 3 B&B crews are working on bridges, preparing for the expected arrival of heavier engines, perhaps (rented) K-27s. G. White
D&RGW magazine, May 1925
6-25-1925 The New Mexico Lumber Co's old 1913 charter for the Dolores, Paradox and Grand Jct is amended and the name changed to the Colorado and Southwestern. Equipment, however, was simply labeled 'N.M.L.Co'. Ssj, p394
Jul 1925 Repairs and repainting at Ridgway are completed in June. The grounds around the shop were cleaned up, and grass was planted. By July, the oil house had been rebuilt and new oil tanks installed. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Jul 1925
7-11-1925 Bridge 42-A is washed out, due to "the breaking of a lake on Turkey Creek Mesa, which was used for irrigating purposes." Guess the fields got more irrigation than planned. This issue of the magazine also reports that oil & ore traffic between Rico and Montrose (via Ridgway) has been gradually increasing. [Washout] G. White
D&RGW magazine, Aug 1925
Sep 1925 Heavy stock traffic expected for the fall; slightly fewer cattle, but many more sheep. Expectations are 300 cars from the Lizard Head district, and many from other points as well. Since much heavier engines are expected, increase in traffic should not be a problem. Lumber traffic out of Dolores has also increased, and now totals 15 cars/day; most of this is being routed to Alamosa via Durango. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Sep 1925
Oct 1925 Cattle shipping is a little slow due to weather, but 150 cars were expected from Placerville. Dolores lumber traffic continues to increase and is expected to reach 20 cars/day soon. Oil traffic has only just resumed; it was cut off due to a washout on the D&RG in Utah. RGS ditcher 030 is on loan to the D&RG right now. Also, Ridgway receives a new stationary boiler from Salt Lake, as the old one had been condemned. D&RGW magazine, Oct 1925
Dec 1925 The RGS receives four K-27 locomotives between Dec 12-22, to replace aging C-19s. Apparently, these were leased from the D&RGW, as the RGS did not own any K-27s until #455 was purchased in Sep 1939. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Feb 1926
1926 The Calumet Fuel Co closes it's Perins Peak coal mine, and abandons its 4.7mi Calumet branch (3 mi W of Durango, to Perins Peak). The line had been leased to the RGS since 1906. Ssj, p388
Feb 1926 For the previous couple of months, oil traffic has been about 25 cars per week. Traffic in December included 144 from Telluride, 117 from Rico, and 119 from Dolores. The fall rush of 1925 was 1200 cars. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Feb 1926
2-24-1926 D&RG #361, a heavy outside frame ex-Crystal River 2-8-0, under lease to the New Mexico Lumber Co (cutting above Rico at the time), attempted to haul a load of lumber north from Durango. It got as far as Rico (or somewhat beyond?), but proved too heavy for the RGS' light rail and had to be nursed back to Durango. Ssj, p142
Apr 1926 Leased D&RG K-27s are now handling all traffic on the north end of the RGS. There are also reports that plans have been made to upgrade to heavier rail on the south end, so the larger engines could operate there and help with summer shipping. Loading from Rico, Ophir, Telluride and Matterhorn continue to be good. Lumber loads from Dolores have been somewhat varied. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Apr 1926
Apr 1926 Several tank cars are derailed near Wilson switch; one of them (w/more damage than the others) is being repaired in the Ridgway shops. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Apr 1926
July 1926 Ten new tank cars put in service between Ridgway and Farmington, increasing the number of tanks handled per week to 35. Expectations for that 50 will be in service by the fall. Traffic is ok (but not great), and four engine turns remain in service on the north end (all K-27s). Traffic on the south end seems to be heavier. Stock traffic for the coming fall is expected to be greatly increased over 1925. In personal news, RGS engineer W. Virden and fireman L. Trone purchased a garage in Norwood, and if business does well they intend to settle there indefinitely. G. White
D&RGW magazine, Jul 1926
1928 The last operating mine in Telluride closes, and local traffic fell sharply as ore shipments ceased and miners moved on. [Milestone] Ssj, p142
1-1-1928 The Rico-to-Durango portion of the RGS is certified for locomotives up to and including the D&RG K-28 class. This cleared the way for leased use many D&RG K-27s, and the eventual purchase of K-27s #455 and #461. There is no evidence, however, that the heavier and longer K-28s were ever used or even tested on the RGS. Dennis O'Berry
Mudhens, p16
9-1928 McPhee and McGinnity begin cutting spruce logs near MP 60, north of Rico, at a location called Timber Spur. Actual cutting used the name Colorado Spruce Co. Logs 1" and over were shipped to McPhee in special spruce unit trains, while smaller logs went to Appleton, WI. Ssj, p394
1929? Rails on the Calumet branch, which ran 4.7mi, from Franklin Jct to a coal mine at Perin's Peak, are pulled up. The branch had been abandoned since 1926, when the mine shut down. Ssj, p388
April 1929 A huge mudslide at Ames pushed the RGS tracks 34' out of alignment and then buried them under 50' of mud. The RGS is now broken into two disconnected segments. Although mudslides had been common in the early years, no major slides had occurred for 40 years.

Oil traffic from Farmington to Ridgway (35 cars/week in 1926) is now routed on teh D&RGW to Salida, bypassing the RGS completely. Victor Miller eventually got some of this traffic back after clearing the Ames slide in July of 1930, but by then refineries had been built near Farmington and the trip to Salt Lake was less necessary. However shipment of other, refined petroleum products (like gasoline) continued, but the unit trains to Salt Lake declined. Rod Jenson figured that oil traffic generated approx $140 per car, compared to ore at about $50, and cattle under $20. Loads of oil & petroleum products was pretty steady from 1930-1939, and averaged 271 cars per year. However, this was far less than the 35 cars / week during 1926 (1820 per year, if that traffic level was steady).

Here's a photo of the location of this slide, right in the center of the photo.
[Slides] Rod Jenson
Ssj, p143
Late 1929 Operations on the May Day branch finally cease. George Cook
Miller,
Rcv
12-11-1929 With losses mounting from the Telluride closures, the Ames slide, and the depression, another receivership begins and Victor Miller is appt'd receiver. Things looked grim, and operations were forseen to last only a few weeks more. The D&RG had estimated $20,000 to clear the Ame slide, and thousands more to get the rest of the line in shape. It should be noted that the RGS was also paying outrageous rentals to the D&RG for terminals, depots, locomotives, office space and "absentee executive supervision". [Milestone] Ssj, p143
12-16-1929 Victor Miller's receivership begins. He kept the RGS running until 1938, clearing the Ames slide, creating the RGS Motors (ie, the Galloping Geese), re-opening the Ridgway shops, restoring many of the RGS's locomotives, and acquiring many 'new' cars from the C&S. Sun v1, p13

1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s Post 1953

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