Rio Grande Southern RR - Historical Timeline (1930-today)
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!
Back to RGS home
|? 1930||Superintendent Forest White makes a study of the Ames slide, and finds that beaver dams had changed the water flow above the site and caused the slide. The resulting ponds were drained, a local ditcher hired to attack the slide from below, and the slide moved on down the mountainside. Cost? Only a few hundred dollars. The RGS was open again.||[Slides]||Ssj, p143|
|1930||While a pair of 4-6-0s were rented to the D&RG at just $6/day, and a third 4-6-0 sitting unusable at Ridgway, the RGS was paying $17,000 - $40,000/year to rent D&RG motive power, and paying even more to have them maintained in Alamosa. Miller put a stop to all this, rehabilitating the Ridgway shops and restoring #25 at a cost of just $1,005. (D&RG costs for the same work were $4,997). Rentals stopped, and RGS trains were once again pulled by RGS power.||Ssj, p143|
|1930||The $20,000/year remote supervision by the D&RG's 4th division in Alamosa ceases with Miller now in charge, replaced by much better on-site supervision for just $5000/year.||Ssj, p143|
|1930 ?||Miller reduces RGS payments to the D&RG for use of the Durango facilities; previously the RGS had paid 1/3 of total cost for the extensive operations in Durango - Miller reached a new agreement where by the RGS payments were in proportion to the number of RGS locomotives using the Durango roundhouse. This saved $7500 / year.||Ssj, p144|
|1930||Over at McPhee, the New Mexico Lumber Co's mill is not running, and trains out of McPhee are loaded with inventory from the storage yard. Shay #7, a new engine built in 1929, was in use during this time between McPhee and Dolores. A 92-year-old Ouray resident, Ether Montano, remembers the Shay as 'the shiny engine always sitting in front of the shop'. It was never used in the woods, she recalls, but was used for trips to and from Dolores, sometimes pulling up to 26 cars. Engineman didn't like it, however, and were afraid of being killed in a rollover. It was sold in 1933.||W. George Cook|
|Feb 1930||Miller takes steps, under the Railway Labor Act, to better utilize employees' time without affecting their pay rates. Steps included using trainmen operating freights or mixed consists to stop and pull brush from bridges near flood season, for instance. These actions also paved the way for legally operating the Motors (ie, the Geese) with just one motorman. Such actions saved money and helped the RGS to survive.||Ssj, p144|
|Feb 1930||Miller renegotiates the mail contract (from $20,000 per year to $38,000), eliminating the nighttime passenger runs and carrying the mail on daylight mixed runs (generating more passenger revenues as well). The night passenger runs had been solely for the convenience of the post office, and usually carried little except the mail.||Ssj, p144|
|1931||The RPO (Railway Post Office) route between Ridgway and Telluride, apparently discontinued in 1927, is reinstated and runs until 1933.||W. George Cook|
|6-1-1931||Under Miller's direction, Motor #1 is created, which led to the creation of what eventually came to be known as the 'Galloping Geese'. This began a new era for the RGS, as the motors were far cheaper to operate than an entire steam passenger train, and given the number of passengers in these days they made a lot of sense, and helped the RGS survive as long as it did. More details about the geese can be found in my Goose Timeline.||[Milestone]||Ssj, p321|
|8-12-1931||Goose #2 (motor #2) is created.||Ssj, p322|
|Fall 1931||The fall stock rush, moving more than 14,000 cars of cattle and sheep, is accomplished (for the first time ever) without leasing outside power; the RGS's own 6 locomotives handled it all, and with no engine failures.||Ssj, p144|
|12-2-1931||Goose #3 (motor #3) is created.||Ssj, p323|
|5-4-1932||Goose #4 (motor #4) is created.||Ssj, p617|
|6-8-1933||Goose #5 (motor #5) is created. With this Goose in service, regular steam-powered passenger service became a thing of the past on the RGS. Four Geese now handled a circular route: Ridgway to Telluride, Telluride to Durango, Durango to Dolores, and Dolores back to Ridgway. Each Goose made it back to Ridgway every 4 days.||Ssj, p323|
|1-13-1934||Work goose #6 is created.||Ssj, p617|
|1934||Miller further reduces south-end facility costs by purchasing additional land and building its own small engine facility and wye, using materials on hand and its own labor. A small enginehouse and station were constructed. Cost for the entire project was just $5700, and net savings the first year totaled $7214.||Ssj, p144|
|c1936||The depot at Rico burns, destroying the upstairs living quarters of the station agent, and killing his wife. Business car B-21, Rico, is moved to Rico to serve as a temporary depot while repairs were made.||[Fire]||Rgs v6, p109|
|10-27-1936||Goose #7 (motor #7), the last built by the RGS, is created, to provide a spare for the Geese 2,3,4 and 5 which were running in regular passenger service (see above). With Goose #7 available, Goose #2 was regulated to Ridgway as a backup.||Ssj, p324|
|1937||Receiver Miller, in his report on operations, so liked the Motors (ie, the Geese) that he proposed building and operating them on the Colorado & Southern's South Park line (which ran from Denver to Leadville). His advice was not followed, however, and that line was abandoned.||Ssj, p324|
|1938||Miller purchases a number of cars from the former Colorado & Southern, but personally retains ownership. 108 were placed into service on the RGS - 3 reefers, 45 stock, and 60 boxcars. Not all were relettered for the RGS, and most contained cast iron ownership plates.||
|3-3-1938||An extra heading south from Ridgway with #20 on the point stalls in the snow at Lizard Head at 2:40 am.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|3-4-1938||Engines #22 and #42 depart Rico with plow flanger 02, reaches Lizard Head about noon, and digs out the extra with #20. Goose #7 also arrives at Lizard Head from Rico, but decides to turn back because of the severe snow storm. The consist of 1 Goose, 3 engines, 3 freight cars, 1 caboose and 1 plow depart for Rico. They travel just one mile southbound before becoming stalled in a deep drift, where they remained for the next 4 days.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|3-7-1938||D&RGW #458 is borrowed at Durango and departs for Rico, to fetch rotary plow 02. But, the tender derails and turns over just north of Mancos. D&RGW #271 is dispatched from Durango with a wrecker, arrives, and rerails the tender. #458 resumes her journey toward Rico. On the way back, #271 becomes stuck near Cima Summit and is freed only after 4 hours of shoveling.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|3-7-1938||Meantime, back at the ranch, er, at Ridgway, Superintendent Forest White leaves with his only remaining locomotive, RGS #455, taking every available man with him to dig out the train stranded near Lizard Head. This train becomes stuck in the deepening snow at Matterhorn.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|3-9-1938||D&RG #458 and RGS #41 depart Rico with the rotary plow, and arrive at the stranded extra about 6:15 pm. They free engines #20, #22, #42, flanger plow 02, Goose #7 and their train. With 5 engines, a rotary, a goose, and a flanger plow, the traveling equipment show departs for Rico.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|3-9-1938||D&RG #458 and RGS #41 derail near Coke Ovens.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|3-10-1938||#458 and #41 are rerailed near sunrise, and the consists starts out once again. It finally arrives in Rico about 2:10 pm. Some of the men on board had been on duty since March 3rd.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|3-10-1938||With the line still not open, #458 and the
rotary depart Rico to return to Lizard Head, but #458's tender derails twice. The
train gives up on Lizard Head and attempts to return to Rico. Not far from town,
they find the way blocked by a large snow slide, which had run twice while they were
away. The weary crew gives up at this point and walks back into town.
Although the photo is updated, here's a shot of the rotary plowing somewhere near Windy Pt.
|3-1?-1938||Engines #20 and #42 eventually depart Rico with plow flanger 02, open the line over Lizard Head, and rescue the superintendent's still-stranded train. Returning to Ridgway, this snow battle is finally over.||[Snow]||Ssj, p268|
|7-3-1938||Victor Miller schedules an inspection special to tour the line with John Barriger, using engine #25 and the Edna (B-20), along w/ another car. Jeff Talyor posted some color pictures that were taken by Richard Jackson, along w/ some discusson on the NG Disc Forum: p1 p2 p3 And Leo Croonenbergs had another photo: p4||Jeff Taylor
|Late 1930s||RGS coach 253 (ex D&RG 262) was on the ground at the West Durango terminal during this period. RGS coach 259 (ex D&RG 269) was rebuilt as a combine in 1931, and by this time was stored dead in West Durango, with the string of dead C-16 locomotives.||NG Dsc post|
|11-16-1938||Victor Miller divorces his wife, who happened to be the daughter of Judge Symes, who oversaw the RGS's receivership. Judge Symes apparently reacted, and replaced Miller with Cass Herrington. Herrington obtained various financial 'band-aids' which kept the railroad running during World War II. Herrington also moved the Southern's offices from Ridgway and Denver to Durango, utilizing the second floor of the Durango depot.||[Milestone]||
Sun v1, p13
|Late 1938||78 of the boxcars Miller had purchased are shipped to Chicago Freight Car Parts Company for rebuilding, at Salida.||Ssj, p324
|Oct 1939||There was, apparently, an outstanding bill from the D&RG of $3500 for repairs to the C&S cars that Victor purchased in 1938, which had never been paid. This was settled with the new RGS receiver Cass Herrington in Oct 1939. By 1939, Miller had assigned his rights to his 125 former C&S cars to the General Machinery and Supply Company, so they were party to the dispute. A deal was made so that the RGS could release their repair claim against Miller (which he disputed): they selected 46 of the Miller cars for their continued use while returning the balance from the 125 cars to General Machinery. Then, they gave General Machinery title to the 6 derelict locomotives and tenders (C-16's) stored in Durango, plus $1000, and agreed to pay the freight to haul the derelict locomotives to Minnequa for scrap.||Rod Jensen|
|1940||Todd Ferguson has documented car loadings for 1940 in this PDF document.||Todd Ferguson|
|1940s||Traffic losses mount as Montezuma Lumber's McPhee mill burns, bad flooding occurs in 1941, and Butterfly mill burns. Herrington applied to the Reconstruction Finance Corp. (RFC) for a loan, but was denied because of 'insufficient security'. He then tried to abandon the railroad.||Ssj, p325|
|1940s||The old section house is Dolores is replaced when the RGS purchases a Dolores residence, located behind the original section house. The new house is referred to as the 'Section Foreman's House'||Joe Fuss|
|5-4-1940||Depot at Hesperus burns, and is never rebuilt. Instead, ex-coach 255, now B&B 0255, is parked on the old spur which led to the Porter Coal mine and is used for a depot / office. Phoebe Nobel, the station agent at Hesperus when the depot burned, moved into the old coach w/her two children Billy and Joann, and lived in it for some time before moving to Mancos.||[Fire]||Rgs v9, p178|
|6-4-1940||Civilian Conservation Corp charters a special passenger train - here's a pic.|
|3-29-1941||RGS #455 becomes the first engine to sport the new 'sunrise' logo, after it emerges from it's first RGS shopping. Here's a photo of caboose 0409 from July 1941, also wearing the new logo.||dispatcher
|late 1941||The Ridgway water tank loses it's roof sometime after July 1st this year, as far as can be ascertained. The tank continued in use w/o it's roof for another 10 years or so.|
|Spring 1942||State Rep Elizabeth Pellet goes to Washington and almost single-handedly secures a RFC loan of $59,000. The 5 local counties agreed to not ask for $250,000 in back taxes and to allow the RFC a first mortgage lien. The Defense Supplies Corp (DSC), a subsidiary of the RFC, the purchased the RGS's equipment and facilities for $65,000 and leased them back to the receiver for $1000/month pluse 6% interest. Rent paid was applied to the loan. Metal ownership plates reading 'Defense Supplies Coporation, Washington, D.C. owner & lessor' were attached to most RGS rolling stock, and stenciled on the Geese.||[Finances]||
|Spring 1942||About the same time, another government agency requisitioned the entire railroad for use in Alaska. A number of D&RG K-27s were also requisitioned, and were scrapped in Alaska after the war. Thankfully, the agency withdrew it's request for the RGS when it learned of the RFC loan.||Ssj, p325|
|Spring 1942||Although not exactly RGS-related, another process occurring about this time were the massive scrap drives for the war effort. Hart writes that in Colorado, the Army Corps of Engineers send out a Battalion of men to collect scrap. They focused on abandoned mines and mills, among other things, and hauled out a great many truckloads (most likely reloaded at the nearest railhead so they could go back for more). This Battalion went everywhere they could get at that time and often used explosives to blow out the walls of a mill so they could speedily remove the machinery inside. Old timers in Colorado can tell you about this. Even as late as 1968, I (Hart) photographed the fairly large San Juan Chief Mill at Mineral Point. The building was still standing but the wall on the south and north sides had been blown out and the heavy machinery removed, obviously hurriedly. The smaller lighter machinery was left behind -- it probably took too much vehicle space to remove and yielded too little scrap mettle for the effort.||Hart Corbett|
|May 1942||U.S. Vanadium Corp purchases the old smelter in Durango and begins extracting vanadium from carnotite ore.||Ssj, p140|
|9-17-42||A letter from the Army Transport Service to Col Weed on this
date documents a few more details about the "Miller cars", approx 46 of which were still owned by the
RGS (see details above). The letter details the railroad equipment being shipped to Skagway Alaska,
including 7 locomotives and tenders (all K-28s), 1 snow plow (D&RGW ON), 1 ditcher D&RGW OW), and 40
freight cars - 28 boxcars and 12 gondolas. The freight cars never made it to Skagway. In Oct, the
Army made a deal with Pullman and acquired 50 boxcars and 20 flats from them, and shipped those to
Skagway. In turn, the 40 "Miller cars", no longer needed in Skagway, where shipped to Hawaii instead.
A photo at the top of p52 of Hawaiian Railway Album by Treiber, seems to confirm this. There is a bad order flat car in the photo, USA No. 437502 or 437503. This car originally was a gondola, with capacity between 50,000 lbs. (which is what the Miller cars were) and 68,000 lbs. War Department Circular No. 39, February 9, 1942 (copy is at Carlisle Barracks) reveals that the primary digit of '4' was applied to gondolas, and the secondary digit '3' was applied to cars with a capacity between 50,000 and 68,000 lbs. So the initial digits '43' tell you that this flat car was originally a gondola with that capacity. This car was almost certainly one of the Miller cars, cut down to a flat car.
Army shipments of railroad equipment went to Alaska (WP&Y), Hawaii, and the Philippines. Silver San Juan notes that those sent to Alaska (WP&Y) remained there as late as 1971, but were gone by 1975.
Careful research by Mike Peltier seems to also confirm this, as he found that although the WP&Y received a number of C&S cars, none of were Miller's cars from the RGS. Dennis remembers a baggage car and tool car at Skagway, and #704 at Whitehorse. Brian says when the WP&Y went to containers many boxcars were apparently cut down into flat cars. Grant says the WP&Y currently has 4 C&S boxcars w/o numbers - possibly pictured in Dave's photos from 1996?
Jerry Day also confirms this, finding an article (not sure where from) dated 12-24-42 that read "According to W.S. Gilmer, roundhouse foreman here, the last of 87 narrow gauge box and flat cars reconditioned at Gunnison's D&RGW shops by the Chicago Freight Car Parts Company were delivered to the government this week and are on their way to Honolulu. After Pearl Harbor the Army undertook a renovation of numerous little systems on the Hawaiian Islands in the interest of national defense and as slim gauge repair facilities were good locally, the company which had the contract has had 16 to 18 men at work here. Of the cars, 76 were purchased from the old Colorado and Southern, and only 11 secured locally."
Hawaiian Railway Album, p52
War Dept circ #29, 2-9-42
|Jan 1943||"The Official Railway Equipment Register" for January, 1943 notes that the freight cars owned by the RGS were not in commercial service, and also notes that there was 1 flat car, 31 MOW cars, 7 cabooses, and 1 coach in service at that time.||Official Railway Eq Register, Jan '43|
|June 1943||The U.S. Army begins quietly working the dumps at old mills in the area and shipping the tailings over the RGS to a government plan in Utah. Strange things took place along the RGS, and no one spoke of the "yellow cake" being loaded into box cars and accompanied by very businesslike "mining men." It was years later when locals realized that the "worthless" ore tailings had been used to help build the atomic bomb.||Ssj, p140|
|8-31-1943||#20 (2nd) and #40 are wrecked at Cima. The #40 is scrapped, but its tender went into work service. Upon inspection in 2007 of #20's boiler, a flat spot was found as a result of this wreck. Although #20 ran for another 10 years, this flat spot area of the boiler needed replacement (and, given that #20 is being restored, the flat area has been fixed!). Photos: p1 p2 p3||Crum, p219,223|
is severely damaged in a runaway. A heavy train of 24 boxcars loaded with ore, it lost its brakes
shortly after leaving Dallas Divide, descending the 4% grade toward Ridgway. The wreck occurred
less than a mile from the divide, about MP 11.2. No injuries as the crew all jumped, but all of the
cars were reduced to kindling and the valuable ore was strewn around the hillside. Caboose 0404 was
also damaged, and out-of-service until 1947 along with 455. Apparently the sunrise herald was removed
during the rebuild, and replaced with just a simple 'RGS'.
Wreck photos: pic1 pic2 pic3 pic4
Wreck site photos: pic5 pic6 pic7 pic8
Rgs v10, p99
|During WWII||Goose service between Durango and Dolores is discontinued, replaced by a truck to handle what little freight, express and mail was left on that run.||Ssj, p325|
|1945||By this date, the Rico enginehouse, rarely used, is empty, doors standing open and half-broken, and the roof weakening to the point that enginemen were afraid to put a locomotive inside.||Chasing NG, p126|
|1-18-1945||Herrington writes a letter threatening sale or abandonment of the line.||Sun v1, p14|
|1-23-1945||Herrington writes another letter, a preliminary notice that abandonment filings were being prepared. He was apparently trying to open people's eyes as to the dire situation of the railroad. It worked.||Sun v1, p14|
|1-24-1945||D&RGW responds to another Herrington letter, declining any interest in purchasing the RGS.||Sun v1, p14|
|2-15-1945||The Reconstruction Finance Corp (RFC) (the successor to the Defense Supplies Corp) responds with an offer for a $60,000 loan, that was later approved and used for improvements and repairs. Without this loan, the RGS wouldn't have made it past 1945. However, Herrington was again renting D&RG power while RGS locomotives sat in the roundhouse at Ridgway, which perhaps was a poor use of what little money remained.||
Sun v1, p15
|May 1945||Herrington imposes a $20 per car surcharge. Shippers were hit hard, and the worst hit were exempted - ore, beans, and peas. Coal and stock were not exempted, though, forcing many of them to turn to trucks. A regretful decision, as many shippers were lost to trucking at a time when the RGS could ll afford to lose even one.||
Sun v1, p16
|10-13-1945||Crews dig into a couple of small slides near Placerville in these photos: p1 p2 p3||[Slide]||Bob Richardson|
|1946?||A boxcar derails on the Butterfly trestle. Here's a photo.|
|7-16-1947||#20 pulls an excursion train; Hart Corbett provided
this photo of the train at Dolores, about to head
north to Rico. Hart notes that the cars were from the D&RGW and had electric interior lights.
Nolan Black [who organized this excursion] once told me some years ago that the baggage car
had a generator in it to power the recorders and some movie cameras of the day. The generator
was powerful enough to also power the electric lights in the coaches. Nolan said it was the
ONLY electrically lighted passenger train to ever run on the RGS.
Hart also wrote that Nolan "remembered that the elderly man with a cane - he's on his knees in the front row of Kimball's group photo in Crum's book, wearing a hat, a vest, and holding himself upright with two hands on the cane -- was a long retired railroad engineer. Crum states that the man was 89 at the time of the excursion. Nolan said he never learned what railroad from which the man retired.
"The excursionists came from many states. There was a group of entertainers on board as excursionists -- musicians, singers, and comedians -- who entertained other passengers when the traveling times began to drag. As Crum points out, one group of singers followed engineer Lynton around and sang to him as he oiled around engine 20. Crum says it was the first and only time that #20 was oiled to musical accompaniment. The impromptu band on board later turned professional in Los Angeles and became known as the "Firehouse Five Plus Two". To those of us of a certain generation, that name should be quite familiar though live performances and audio recordings. Maybe some of them were also the [movie or audio] recorders of the train itself."
In one photo of train (behind #455 and with RGS caboose 0403, at this point), high-side gondola 1602 has chalk lettering reading 'Sliver Vista'. This was probably a play on the D&RG's glass-covered 'Silver Vista'; the gondola had no glass but plenty of wood to provide splinters!
|Oct 2-5, 1946||Lucius Beebe, a famous railroad author, makes an excursion trip around the narrow gauge circle. The Rocky Mountain News (in Denver) published a series of articles about the trip, including these relating to the RGS portion: article1 art2 art3 art3|
|1948||Caboose 0403 is hit by a runaway flatcar loaded with bridge timbers. The timbers flew off the flat and literally destroyed one end of the caboose. The caboose was scrapped a short time later.||Herb Kelsey|
|1948||In a truly bizzard discovery, it turns out there were apparently 'phantom railfans' in the 1940s who repainted or relettered cars. As an example, Dave found a D&RG boxcar which had been relettered for the RGS, including the sunset herald, but keeping the D&RG number. Here's a couple photos apparently take in 1948: pic1 pic2. And even more oddly, it appears the D&RG keep using the car and didn't paint over the RGS herald. Twelve years later, it appeared in Cumbres in 1960; this NG Disc Forum post includes a color photo.||Dave Vollmer|
|3-16-1948||Cass Herrington is killed in an automobile accident.||
Sun v1, p16
|5-20-1948||The Ouray depot burns.||Hank|
|Jun 1948||Vangie Edson sent me an email, and told of how he was born in a boxcar in Hesperus, in June of 1948. He's part of that email: "My name is Vangie Edson and I was born in Hesperus, CO in a boxcar which was used by the railroad as housing for their employees. My dad's mom and step-father were living in a boxcar near the section house and the catholic church located in Hesperus. My parents were there for the day when I was born. My mother was lucky because a doctor was there at the time. I was early and not expected for another month. My dad also worked for the railroad at that time and he and mom were living in a boxcar above Telluride. I was born on June 19, 1948." The boxcar where Vangie was born is thought to have caught fire and burned at some point. He was baptized in the church the day after his birth; that church existed in Hesperus until about 1990, when it was moved.||Vangie Edson|
|4-01-1948||Pierpont Fuller, Jr is app't receiver by Judge Symes (who retired shortly thereafter, in Sep 1949). Fuller happened to have an office in Judge's Denver building. Fuller wrote the final chapter of the RGS, adding surcharges on shipping (which many would say hastened the loss of freight to trucks) and then losing the mail contract. It was Fuller who filed for abandonment in 1951, then oversaw the sale of equipment and scrapping of the line. But it was also Fuller who (later) coverted the Geese to tourist operations, and tried to promote them.||
Sun v1, p16
|2-4-1949||Jay Spangler, a water-service man put into duty as a
locomotive watcher over the past year, lets the water run low in Rotary 2's boiler at Vance Junctio,
exposing the crown sheet and causing an explosion. The plow was never repaired, although the D&RGW
did offer to help, and repair costs were estimated at only $2250.
Here's a photo from 6-18-50: pic.
Robert McLeod notes that Mr. Spangler was blamed for the explosion and later fired. He was born on 5-15-1893, and has a relative in Leeds, IA.
Some debate whether this was really a boiler explosion, since usually in such an accident the crown sheet or steam dome goes, and all the damage to Rotary 02 was at the opposite end of those areas. A crown sheet failure also would've wiped out the cabin structure. But Brian Banks notes that these types of explosions - superheated water turning rapdily into steam - often found the weakest point of the boiler, which might have been near the front in this situation. And, if the boiler was dry (as was likely here), there wouldn't be much superheated water anyway, and the explosion would be smaller.
Dale Buxton reports that several accounts say the main bull gear let go and ripped apart the main machinery and nearby cabin structure, although that seems unlikely since the rotary wouldn't have been running overnight, right?
Earl writes a nice analysis too: "In Jim Ehrenburger's Twilight on the RGS series is a copy of the ICC report confirming the boiler explosion. If I remember the crown was burned several inches below it's highest point before it let go. I have also seen pics taken shortly after the incident where the rear of the body had been torn loose from the frame and was dropped down to the ground. In a boiler explosion the force is directed out through the firebox door and down through the grates. In addition it blows forward out through the tubes blowing the smokebox door off and tearing up everything in front of it. I believe the front of the frame broke which is why there is a huge chain holding the front cowl up. The dynamics of a boiler explosion are many and not all end up with the boiler going into orbit. I recall reading about C&S #70 dropping its crownsheet in Golden in the 1930's. It made a big mess but no one got killed. The fireman was up on the tender taking water and the engineer was either on the ground or on his side of the deckless cab. I have another report of a locomotive which dropped it's crown sheet and blew up on an AZ logging line. The only casualties were 3 men riding on the pilot beam who got killed when the smokebox door came off.
Sun v1, p17
|2-4-1949||This was a hard winter, and without the rotary plow the line from Vance Jct to Dolores was forced to close until May 15th. The mail was forced onto trucks, and the RGS paid a $300/mo fine plus the cost of the trucks.||
Sun v1, p18
|5-14-1949||The Edna is repainted by members of the Rocky Mtn
Railroad Club, in preparation for a railfan trip over the RGS over Memorial Day weekend. The
oversized lettering for 'Edna' was applied during this repainting. The car was green with gold
lettering before the repainting. In photos from another fan trip in Sep 1951, it's easy to see
how badly the paint had deteriorated.
Here's a photo of the train posed near Lizard Head, during the excursion: pic1, and another, I believe from the same excursion, at the Trout Lake tank.
|6-18-1949||Heavy rains and melting snow wash out 36 miles of track,
closing the line. Goose runs between Ridgway and Rico resumed on Aug 2nd, but the line between
Rico and Dolores was closed until Sept 13th. Repairs cost nearly $17,000. Three low trestles in
the first dozen miles below Rico each lost one span. The trestle at King's siding (8 mi from
Rico) was hit so hard the track was swung at right angles.
Bob Richardson took a number of washout photos, apparently on Aug 9th, and apparently of the damage from the mid-June storms: p1 p2 p3 78-A? p4 p5 p6 p7 p8 I don't know where these locations are - anyone?
Sun v1, p19
|Aug 1949||Another hit to the RGS's revenues occurs when the match factory in Mancos closed. The big mine at Rico had closed earlier.||NgNews #4, p33|
|Sep 13, 1949||RGS
#20 is being used
to film Ticket to Tomahawk, and Josie Crum
sent this on a postcard, showing #20 in her Emma Sweeney paint. The postcard noted
the title of the film as "Road to Tomahawk", although that wasn't correct in the end.
Josie wrote: "Dear Schrams: Would you recognize this as R.G.S. 20? Fox Co. is using
it to make a picture, "Ticket to Tomahawk" here. Time is 1876. It is all dolled up in
the grandest black, green, red and gold you ever saw; also some cars. R.G.S. had some
bad washouts but is now repairing them. Josie Crum"
Steve E captured a beautiful photo of the clipper ship painting on #20's tender about 1950.
|Fall 1949||The fall stock rush this year turns out to
be the last big operation over the RGS. A half-million sheep were moved aboard 448
D&RGW and a few remaining RGS stock cars. Locomotive
#20 was pressed
into service in mid-Sept (still wearing her
Ticket to Tomahawk movie paint), since
#74 had broken an
Here's some photos of caboose 0409 in her "Tomahawk" colors, lettered "Route of the Bloody Basin Cannonball": p1 p2. And here's a photo some years later, about 1951. Also during filming, one of the trestles on an unused RGS branch was burned up. RGS 20 kept her clipper ship painting on the tender under the end of the RGS, as the crews liked it. Also, apparently caboose 0409 was never repainted, or used again after the filming.
|12-18-1949||Heavy snow and the lack of a rotary forced the line between Vance Jct and Dolores to close again, this time until June 6th. Again, the mail was forced onto trucks, which enraged both local residents and Post Office officials. Didn't they have a mail contract with a RAILroad? A resident in Stoner sent a number of letters to his congressman and the Post Office complaining about the service, and the letters were printed in the Dolores Star on Dec 23rd. The Post Office noted that they were already paying a high rate to the RGS, via a special contract.||
Sun v1, p18
NgNews #4, p33
|3-31-1950||With the mails being carried by truck for the second winter in a row, the Post Office loses patience and cancels the $30,000/year mail contract.||
Sun v1, p17/20
|Spring 1950||The RGS begins tourist service, converting the express bodies of Geese #3, #4, #5 and #7 for passenger service. Seats from old Denver buses, long benches, and snack bars were installed. Galloping geese were painted on the motor's flanks, and advertising for the trips sprouted along the major area highways. Conductor Jimmy Cooper, known for his fast running in a goose, claims he wore out his (amputated) finger pointing out the scenic wonders along the line.||Ssj, p326|
|5-12-1950||Federal Judge Knous formally grants permission to discontinue regular mail service.||Ssj, p326|
|Summer 1950||Outhouses were built at Trout Lake for the goose excursions. They were painted boxcar red, and lettered 'Goose' and 'Gander'. Signs advertising the Goose trips were also posted - here's a photo of one near Durango.||Ssj, p326|
|Summer 1950||The Rico mine re-opens, running three-shifts a day. RGS traffic picks up a bit.||Ssj, p326|
|6-1-1950||Tourist Geese runs resume, weekends only. Two runs were offered, Ridgway to Lizard Head, and Durango to Dolores. The Durango run was later changed for the more scenic Dolores to Lizard Head route.||Ssj, p326|
|8-29-1950||RFC makes a 5-day inspection of the RGS, concerned since payments weren't being made on it's $60,000 loan from 1945. The repot was quite thorough, and found the RGS in very poor shape, both financially and physically. Of the 48 stations on the line, only 6 had more than 350 people. Crossties were in such poor condition that 238,736 (nearly half) were due for replacement, with 144,000 needing immediate replacement. Freight traffic averaged less than 9 mph between Ridgway and Rico, and derailments were numerous. Revenues from freight were declining. However, the RFC did not recommend abandonment, only further financial restructing.||Sun v1, p19|
|Fall 1950||Tourist Geese runs are curtailed, as the crews were needd to handle the stock rush. The Geese had hauled less than a 1000 people this summer.||Ssj, p326|
|9-1950||Locomotive #461 purchased from D&RG, while en route from Montrose to Alamosa for scrapping, and set out at Rico.||Mud|
|10-13-1950||A double-header hauling a stock extra out of Mancos sets a string of forest fires as it struggled up the 2.5% grade toward Durango. The fires take 2 days to bring under control.||Ssj, p205|
|Approx 1951||Sometime shortly before the RGS was scrapped, Fred Folk reports that the D&RGW tried a K-28 from Durango but only got as far as East Mancos. (not suprising, as the RGS was having a lot of problems with their own K-27s over this part of the line, mostly due to lack of proper maintenance, it seeems to me). Apparently the D&RGW was considering keeping this part out as far as Mancos.||Fred Folk|
|Early 1951||Locomotive #461 is towed to Ridgway, repaired, and put into service.||Mud|
|3-1951||The RGS's only remaining piece of snow fighting equipment, plow flanger 02, is wrecked on Lizard Head and never rerailed. It had been relettered "Snow Plow 02" is approx Aug 1949. Photos: pic1 p2 p3 p4 p5||
NgNews #2, p26
|3-15-1951||Responding to letters from Receiver Fuller, the Rico Argentine Mining Co (one of the few remaining major shippers) says that although it is supportive of the railroad, it can't support the railroad alone and has begun investigating trucking options.||Sun v1, p23|
|6-1951||Here's a picture of Goose #3 from this month. There were some Goose tourist runs this summer, but I'm not sure if Goose 3 was used or not.|
|7-1951||Engine #41 is sold to Walter Knott, of Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA. Here's a page with more information on how the RGS and other Colorado equipment ended up at Knott's.||Orange v2|
|8-1951||Goose #4 is relegated to display status in Telluride, I thought after the RGS closed down. However, here's a pic from it the Goose on its display track, supposedly taken on August 4th.||Bob Richardson|
|8-27-1951||Fuller writes the RFC, lamenting the probable loss of ore traffic from Rico (it's last large shipper), but noting the strong tourist support for the Geese and far-flung advertising for them.||Sun v1, p23|
|9-01-1951||The Rocky Mtn RR Club operates the last steam passenger excursion betwen Ridgway and Lizard Head, returning on Sept 2nd.||[Milestone]||Sun v1, p25|
|9-25-1951||The railroad was continuing to slide downhill (no pun intended) as fall approached. Part of the Lizard Head snowshed had blown down, leaving a ragged gap in the structure. And plow flanger 02 still sat, forlorn and derailed, untouched since the derailment back in March.||Bob Richardson|
|9-30-1951||The last Goose run w/tourists is made.||[Milestone]||Sun v1, p25|
|10-1-1951||Tourist Geese runs end for good; it turned out to be the railroad's last summer. Ridership had more than doubled, with more than 2000 riding the crazy contraptions, but it wasn't enough to save the RGS.||Ssj, p326|
|11-1951||Engine #41, sold earlier to Walter Knott, of Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA, is now operating as part of the Calico and Ghost Town Railway, still as #41. Herb writes that Walter wanted a steam train to entertain his guests when he found RGS 41 at Ridgway looking for a new home. Ed Randow and Roy Boucher (RGS Master Mechanic and Superintendent, respectively) were getting ready to retire and California was a common destination point for old Colorado heads. Ed came out to CA to retire and run the trains and Roy put on the Conductor's outfit again. They both were around Knotts Berry Farm for several years.||Orange v2|
|11-13-1951||Fuller petitions the court to cease operations and apply for abandonment. The RGS's debt totals $7.3 million.||Sun v1, p26|
|11-15-1951||#20 begins a series of 3-day trips between Durango, Dolores and Rico, collecting final loads and cars.||Ssj, p298|
|11-16-1951||#461 arrives in Rico to pick up the last load of ore from that town.||Ssj, p298|
|11-17-1951||With the temperature hitting 10 below zero during the night, workmen arrive in the morning to find #461's drivers frozen to the rail, compliments of a small water leak. After two hours of thawing, the engine departs for Ridgway with flanger 01, four boxcars, and a caboose. Here's a photo of the train at Lizard Head, and another later that day, at Rico. A sad day for the RGS.||Ssj, p303|
|11-18-1951||#461 and D&RG #452 depart Ridgway with a load of D&RG cars bound for Durango. This train takes the cars as far as Rico, apparently.||Ssj, p309|
|11-19-1951||#461 and D&RG #452 depart Rico for Ridgway with a load of boxcars, stock cars, at least one outfit car, and a pair of cabeese.||Ssj, p317|
|11-19-1951||Ore shipments cease. Here's a photo of the last ore train out of Ophir.||Sun v1, p25|
|11-26-1951||An embargo is placed on all freight traffic.||Sun v1, p25|
|11-29-1951||The last train out of Rico departs, arriving in Durango on Nov 30th.||[Milestone]||Sun v1, p25|
|12-1951||Locomotive #461 joins #455 in the Ridgway roundhouse ready to be torn down for more complete repairs, in case the abandonment proceedings were delayed or even denied.||Mud|
|12-17-1951||The court responds to Fuller's petition of Nov 13th, allowing the railroad to suspend operations and apply for abandonment. The actual order includes a tender tribute to the railroad and its employess. It reads, in part: "The faithful service of its many employees who have consistently overcome seemingly insuperable obstacles to keep this railroad running, in spite of the serious difficulties present by the rugged terrain, frequent floods, snow slides and inadequate facilities attending such operatiosn, is to be particularly commended. On behalf of the people of the State of Colorado and the citizens of the San Juan Basin, the Court wishes to express its appreciation to these railroad men, both past and present, who throughout the life of this railroad have given of their time and effort, frequently far beyond the call of duty, in making this operation possible and in continuing to run the railroad for many years beyond the point at which under ordinary circumstances it would have been necessary to cease operations." Later, after giving some financial figures, it continues: "These circumstances have forced the Court relunctantly to reach teh conclusion that the continued operations of this historic narrow-gauge railroad is no longer economically feasible and that the public convenience and necessity no longer requires its operation."||Sun v1, p28|
|12-17-1951||The last loads (already enroute on Nov 26th) behind 464
between Porter and Pine Ridge: p1
at Pine Ridge: p2 p3 p4 p5,
between Pine Ridge and Hesperus: p6,
at Hesperus: p7,
between Hesperus and Cima: p8 p9 p10,
and near Pine Ridge: p11 p12 p13.
|12-19-1951||The last loads (already enroute on Nov 26th) leave Durango for Mancos behind 464. Here are some photos of the last freight into Dolores the same day, during a blizzard (typical, eh?) (these shots seem to be in the Franklin Jct / Porter / Hesperus / Wildcat canyon areas): p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 Here's a photo of that train leaving Durango on this day, and here's another.||Sun v1, p25|
|12-27-1951||The 464 again travels from Durango to Mancos, picking up the empties from the Dec 19th shipment. This is the last revenue freight operation on the line.||[Milestone]||Sun v1, p25|
|1952||Business car B-20, Edna, is sold to Walter Knott, of Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA.||Orange v2|
|1952||There is some speculation that a K-28 locomotive, probably D&RGW #473 (since it had been assigned to the Chili line and was still in Durango). The rumor is that the D&RGW wanted to maintain a connection to East Mancos, and that old railroad men in Durango remember the attempt, and also that there were several derailments. There isn't any evidence to support this rumor, but it is (conceivably) possible that such an attempt did occur.||Dave Bucher
|1-14-1952||Formal application to abandon is filed.||Sun v1, p31|
|3-1952||Goose #3 is sold to Walter Knott, of Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA, and put in service later that year.||Orange v2|
|4-24-1952||Permission is granted for abandonment.||Sun v1, p47|
|10-11-1952||During scrapping, Coach 0256 and a B&B car ran
off the end of the track at Coke Ovens and never retreived. Here's some photos of the cars:
This same day, Goose #7 is scrapping near Montelores on the 10th and 11th: p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7 p8 p9 p10 p11 p12
Also the same day, #461 is helping to scrap Lizard Head: p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7 p8 p9 p10
|11-6-1952||Goose #7 is scrapping the very rails she rode on. Here she is at Priest Gulch (approx): pic.||Bob Richardson|
|11-19-1952||Engine #42 spent the fall of 1952 scrapping the track from Hesperus to Cima. If you look under Bob Richardson's photos for #42 on my Rolling Stock page, you'll find links to the numerous photos Bob took of #42 during these sad days.||Bob Richardson|
|11-20-1952||Last train to Mancos: p1 p2 p3.||Bob Richardson
|1953||Goose #3, formerly sold to Knotts Berry Farm and operating during 1952, is put into long-term storage, as a static display.||Orange v2|
|1953||A number of cars were still scattered around the main line in 1953... here's a photo of RGS stock cars 7302, 7303 and (???), sitting at Dallas Divide, and RGS flat 7470 in Grady.||Bob Richardson|
|3-21-1953||The last narrow gauge train runs between Montrose and Ouray. Crews began replacing every 3rd tie on that line with a std-gauge tie, over the following 10 days. Here's a picture of that train, northbound and leaving Ridgway. D&RG #318 did the honors, which was the usual engine used on the Ouray branch.||Jerry Albers
Pics - Bob Richardson
|3-31-1953||The line between Montrose and Ouray is converted to standard gauge in 7 working days, with two 45-man section crews, with roadmast R.E. Davis supervising the work. Two bridges were rebuilt to handle the heavier loads. Most of the work involved simply moving the rails, as std-gauge replacement ties had been used for some years, and work during the fall of 1952 replaced additional ties with std-gauge size, and widened embankments back to std-gauge width. Additional work to replace the remaining narrow gauge ties, fix switches, and convert or remove sidings continued after this date. The line to Ouray was not converted, and was scrapped a few months later, in Oct. The standard gauged line was extended south of the depot a few hundred yards, across the highway and down to the area near the the RGS's abandonded shops and roundhouse area (here's some pics of that area, from April 1953: p1 p2). And here's another pic of the depot, w/ the highway crossing still narrow gauge, on 4-2-1953: p3.||Jerry Albers
D&RGW Green Light newsletter
Pics - Bob Richardson
|6-16-1953||Next-to-last day of scrapping. Sad. Here's photos of Goose #6 working near Hesperus: p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6||Bob Richardson|
|6-17-1953||Scrapping of the line is completed. My Route Summary has a number of photos at Hesperus of scrapping operations the day before, the 16th.||Bob Richardson|
|Sep 1953||Rico depot is demolished in either Aug or Sep.||NG Dsc post|
|1954||By this year, the Bob Richardson's Narrow
Gauge Motel in Alamosa, CO had aquired the following RGS equipment: RGS
20, business car
Rico (both owned by the Rocky Mtn RR Club), Goose
2, RGS 42, RGS
box/outfit 8714, reefer/outfit
7302, and cabooses 0404
Here's 0404 after it arrived in Alamosa in 1953:
Most of this went with Bob when he founded the CO RR Museum in Golden,CO in 19--, but RGS 42, boxcars 2102 and 8714, and caboose 0409 were sold to Magic Mountain (later Heritage Square), an amusement park in Golden CO, which opened its train ride on July 3rd, 1959. 0409 was rebuilt shortly afterwards.
|NG Dsc post|
|Sep 1955||Rico enginehouse are demolished sometime between this date and 1953, by order of the Rico-Argetine Mine management.||NG Dsc post|
|1956||RGS coach 255 (ex D&RG 264) was used as the depot at Hesperus from 1941 on. Dave Grandt saw it there in 1956, on its side without trucks, and in very bad condition.||NG Dsc post|
|Jun 1957||The Ophir depot, used as a general store and postoffice since the RGS was abandoned in 1951, is torn down to make way for a widening of Highway 145. Here's a Denver Post article Fritz Klinke found, about this sad event. And here's another copy of the same article but with additional photos.||Denver Post, 6-4-1957|
|1958||Caboose 0401, sold in 1952 to the city of Boulder, CO and put
on display with RGS engine
#74, is dynamited by vandals and
destroyed (here's a
pic of the
remains in 1960). However, the trucks and other hardware were salvaged. The trucks eventually ended
up used under the replacement display caboose, D&RGW 04990. During renovation in Sep 2002, it was
found that 0401's old trucks were actually from D&RGW 20-ton gondola 8864, built in 1887 and
scrapped in 1925. We do know the RGS replaced 0401's original trucks' with freight car trucks
about 1950; apparently that care (or at least the trucks) ended up on the RGS after scrapping.
Jerry Albers took a couple of pictures some years later, when only the frame remained. The historical society replaced the display with D&RG caboose 04990, also seen here without its trucks: pic1 pic2 Jerry thought these were taken about 1970, but it might have been earlier.
Boulder Vly Railroad HS
Bob Richardson has sold engine
#42, previously at his Narrow Gauge
Motel. By 1959 it was operating in Golden, CO at the Magic Mountain amusement park. Here's a rare
photo of the engine, when it was being serviced
(in Alamosa?) before being moved to the park. And here's
Fritz writes: "I visited Bob Richardson at his motel, and he told me about selling the 42 to Magic
Mountain, so the next day I visited the yards in Alamosa and took several pictures, including this
one of 42 as it was headed into the shop building in the back ground for shopping. This transfer
structure lifted the engine off its wheels, and then the whole engine and drivers went their
separate ways during the shopping process."
Here's another photo of #42, this time in service at the park.
(please note - the above photos are owned & copyrighted by Fritz Klinke).
And finally, here's some additional photos of #42 and also caboose 0409 from Steve Peck, from about 1958: p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7 p8 p9
|Aug 1958||Here's another photo from Fritz, showing the sad beginning of the former RGS. This is a shot of the RGS mainline right-of-way (now removed), with a stock car sitting on the last few inches of D&RG track, which began here and connected the RGS to Durango.||Fritz Klinke|
|July 3, 1959||
Engine #42 takes part in opening day
for the railroad portion of the new Magic Mountain theme park. Fritz Klinke was kind enough to allow
me to post some of his photos from that day:
p1 - 42 leaning into a curve, probably the second run on the new loop.
p2 - waiting for the dedication ceremony to start; Bob Richardson 3rd from left, setting up a photo
p3 - more of Bob setting up a photo of 1st run; notice the nice trackwork
p4 - 42 pulling it's 3-car train across a rather hokey-looking trestle 2/3rds thru the loop
p5 - before opening ceremony; one fellow stands ready to drive the final spike; crew is in uniform
p6 - 42 is a few feet into the start of the first official run
p7 - Fritz is fairly sure this is former Governor Dan Thornton driving the final spike
p8 - 42 leaning into a curve not far from the spike driving ceremony, probably on the 2nd run
p9 - 42 a little further into it's 1st run shortly (100' ?). Note the guy hanging out of the cab!
p10 - Former CO Governor Dan Thorton during his dedication speech; crowd was kinda sparse. The tracks were directly to his rear.
Fritz writes "After the spike driving, all climbed aboard and the first official train took off. Bob Richardson and crew opted not to ride for some reason, and we headed back to the motel after the 3rd run of the train. We did watch them put the train away in a nice storage building that had 2 tracks in it--one for the passenger equipment, and the other for the engine, and there was a drop pit for servicing the engine. As I look back on this, I think they did a very nice job from track work to restoration of the engine and all the details. The train station was exceptionally well done.
(please note - the above photos are the property of and are copyrighted by Fritz Klinke).
And here's a few more photos from Otto Perry that year: pic1 pic2 pic3 pic4 pic5
|Jan 1960||The old RGS connection out of Durango was still in use, as evidenced by this photo. According to Rgs Story v11, this bridge was owned by the D&RGW, and remained in use into the 1960s, handling coal trucked in from Hesperus. The connection was also used to serve the smelter across the river, in earlier years. Hart writes that the road into Telluride was probably first paved this year, although it still gravel from there south to Dolores. In Telluride, the mill at Pandora and the tunnels that connected with the Treasury Tunnel at Red Mountain were all still operating. The Gold King at at Gladstone and several mines near Eureka were all still operating as well. Toward Ouray, the Camp Bird and Revenue Tunnel mines continued operating into the 1980s.||
|Summer 1960||Engine #42 is now in regular service at the Magic Mountain theme park, near Denver Colorado. Stephen Peck took a couple of pictures of the train: pic1 pic2.||Stephen Peck|
|July 1960||The Durango yards still have the sand house, ashpit, coaling tower, and other items in 1960. Hart took a number of great photos of the yard in July and was kind enough to post them - check 'em out!||Hart Corbett|
|1960s||The line from
to Ridgway was std-gauged at some point. W. George Cook writes that it was std-gauged "because a new
gravel mine had opened up and it ran heavy for a few years. There may be some reports of this in Bob
Richardson's Narrow Gauge News, a newsletter he published that
eventually became the
Iron Horse News".
Dale Buxton also writes about the conversion, saying "the total abandonment of the line south of Montrose was held up by ICC and Colorado Transportation Dept. courts in Denver. The complaintants were a fare number of agro and stock growers along the line, the Idarado mine which was still doing two hoppers loads of ore concentrates a week up until the 1980s(?) and the county school commission, which had a contract for about two car loads of coal a month (in the winter months) for it's schools."
Dale continues, from a article in the Rocky Mtn News article when the line was in hearings for final abandonment, "the courts nixed the conversion to truck shipping as they found the D&RGW to be in direct competition with it's own RR and the only other source of freight transportation into the area. This was some sort of violation of an obscure ICC or DOT law. The standard gauging of the line allowed the D&RGW to cease operating what was now an isolated narrow gauge operation (to Ouray); the line over Cerro Summit and through Black Canon had already been scrapped, cutting off the branch's motive power from it's divisions primary maintenance shops. It seems this was part of the overall plan to allow the abandonment of the rest of the line to Ouray".
In May 1945 (see above), when Herrington added a $20/car surcharge to freight, the Idarado stopped shipping on the RGS, but there was still the D&RGW connection at Ridgway, and trucks were limited by axle-loading limits on lcoal highways (ore concentrates are very heavy). The Idarado Mines group had (has?) a tunnel that goes all the way through the mountain and comes out on one of the switchbacks on the north side of Red Mountain Pass. Itís was about half way up the pass from Ironton to the summit.
The concentrates from the Idarado Mill were trucked down from the N side of Red Mountain pass to the railhead at Ridgway. By the way, the Ouray side of the Idarado mines storage yard had about a dozen 3000 series boxcars in it being used for storage of some sort. The area had a very high fence with barbed wire at the top and guards on duty 24/7. The only way to see into the yard was from the pass road, further up the hill to look down on the mine.
In the summer of Ď77, the standard gauge was still in place in Ridgway. There was truck to RR car dump there, near where the site of the old RGS water tower. The day I was there, there were two 3-bay open-top hoppers spotted at the dumper with one about half full of ore concentrates. There were also a pair of neat pole/jacks for hand moving the hopper cars to spot them under the dumper. The line was abandoned a year or two later.
|W. George Cook
|1960s||The roundhouse at Ridgway existed for some time after the demise of the RGS. Eventually the turntable pit was filled in, and the stalls were being used by trucks, I think for a lumber operation.||Hart Corbett, et al|
|1965||The Ridgway depot remained, serving the D&RGW, until 1965,
when the railroad sold the depot to Lester Lowery for $7,929, who then sold the structure to Milton
Mitchell, who appreciated the historical value of the depot and was concerned about its preservation.
Mitchell removed about two thirds of the freight area, moved the remaining portion of the depot about
100 yards to the east, and turned it 90 degrees. At some point, the Mitchells replaced the lower
wainscoting with layers of bricks.
Here's a picture of the depot from about 1965, apparently just after Mitchell moved it. Here's an other picture from when the house was up for sale in Aug 2006. The NG Disc List has a more current picture, from Aug 08.
Interestingly, the freight house remained until about 1976, and can be seen in the movie True Grit.
|~1968||The John Wayne feature film
True Grit was
filmed in and around Ridgway. The Ridgway depot was already modified - the main section having been
cut away, rotated 90 degrees and placed just south and east, while the freight house remained intact
until at least the time of this filming. Without a ticket window anymore, the freight door on the
southern end of the freight house was converted to a depot bay window for the station scenes.
There is one short shot of a narrow gauge caboose leaving the station. It was pulled from right to
left looking west, on the town side of the depot.
Apparently the movie company relaid a short section of NG track and towed the caboose along for the film; although you can see the track later and it looks old, and perhaps original. Actually, you can see two sets of track on that side of the depot - perhaps one NG, and one SG? I'm not sure which caboose it was, although until about 1962 caboose 0400 was sitting derelict in the Ridgway yard, and was later put on display in Ridgway. In the film, you can see just a touch of the lettering on the caboose, and it could be the edge of the RGS logo. Caboose 0400 survived, and is at CRRM today.
Joe Fuss moved to Montrose in the early 1970s, and reports that John Wayne liked the area so well, that once the movie was made, he and one or two others purchased nearly the entire valley east of Ridgway. Joe reports "we always felt like we were trespassing if we used the (public) roads through his property to gain access to the mountains...they had taken over the valley so entirely that one of the access "roads" actually was part of what appeared to be their "driveway"....but no one ever barred us from using it."
|RGS yahoo list
|Summer 1961||Ophir's depot is torn down. Dave Grandt reports being there near the 4th of July in 1961, and seeing the roof being removed.||David Grandt|
|Fall 1961(?)||Engine #42 is taken out of service at the Magic Mountain theme park, near Denver Colorado, and just sat near the depot until 1968.||Jerry Albers|
|1962||RGS caboose 0400, having sat derelict in the Ridgway yard since 1952, is sold at a sheriff's auction to the Better Business Club of Ridgway, for display at the town entrace.||Jerry Albers|
|6-3-1965||RGS reefer 2101 is still at Ridgway, forlorn since all NG track had been removed back in 1953 when the line from Ridgway to Montrose was std-gauged and the NG south on the RGS and southwest to Ouray removed. Here's some photos: p1 p2||Jerry Albers|
|Oct 1965||Inside the depot, the Durango call board still showed the RGS (sad!).||NG memories|
|1967||Durango's water tank is dismantled.||Mike Trent|
|1968||RGS caboose 0400, on display at the entrance to Ridgway since 1962 and now heavily vandalized, is moved into the town proper and used in the John Wayne film True Grit It ended up bright red and lettered 'MKT' after filming, and was put on display in Ridgway's city park. It wasn't cared for, and by 1972 it was being used as toilet (the park had no outhouse).||Jerry Albers|
|1968||The railroad truss bridge, which connected the RGS to the Durango station and yard area, was removed this year, about the same time the new ballon loop was built in the Durango (to help turn the Silverton trains). In later years, when the highway was widened to 4-lanes, a new highway bridge was built, very close to or right on top of the site of the old RGS bridge.||Earl Knoob|
|Feb 2, 1969||Engine #42 and the train formerly used at the Magic Mountain theme park - cars 2102, 8714, a 3000-service D&RG boxcar (3748?), and caboose 0409, are moved to the Woodmoor corporate headquarters at Monument CO and put on display. Woodmoore had purchased Magic Mtn, and coverted it to Heritage Square.||Jerry Albers|
|(none)||June 1968||Here's a few photos of bridge 44-A, the Butterfly trestle, taken by Ted Wiese in the first days of summer, 1968. This was a majestic and famous bridge, located just north of the Ophir loop. The bridge was deemed a safety hazard and dismantled in the fall of 1972. pic1 pic2 pic3 color stringers stringer2 bent channel||Ted Wiese
|Early 1968||Durango's coal tipple is dismantled, part of a project to move the balloon loop, required because of a new highway interchange project that eliminated the old lower loop.||Mike Trent|
|1970s||Jerry Day states that the Ridgway roundhouse was gone by this time, although lots of junk remained. The ex-C&S reefer had already been moved to Fort Lupton.||Bob Yarger
|Early 1970s||Rick Steele writes "Ridgway still had a local serving it
when I went to School in Grand Junction in 1970-72. The line never hauled much, an occasional car
of coal inbound but I have no idea about outbound. Of course, when I visited there, the RGS
caboose was still lettered MK&T and all of the storefronts were lettered for Fort Smith. The branch
was abandoned when the Ridgway Reservoir construction provided a handy excuse for the D&RGW to pull
it up [after 1980?]."
Fritz Klinke replied (in Feb '04) "Standard Metals in Silverton shipped most of their ore concentrates from Ridgway all during the 60s and up to abandonment. They then had to truck into Montrose for rail shipment up to mine closure in 1991. At other times, large quantities of iron oxide was shipped from Ridgway. I doubt much if any coal came in as the mines at Paonia are too close by truck. When I was in Montrose last week, there were large outgoing shipments of wood chips being loaded at the old ore loading dock, and there were a number of incoming loads of lumber. I was surprised by how much rail activity I saw there. "
|Early 1970s||The Rico enginehouse, having survived this long, is finally demolished and/or removed.||Herb Kelsey|
|1970||Bridge 44-A, the Butterfly trestle is dismantled, having been deemed a safety hazard by the forest service.||Rgs v4, p25|
|1971||Another photo of bridge 44-a, the Butterfly trestle, after it was dismantled.||Pers,
|1971||Three stalls of Durango's roundhouse are removed, and the boilerhouse dismantled.||Mike Trent|
|5-9-1971||Engine #42 and the train used used at the Magic Mountain theme park - cars 2102, 8714, a 3000-service D&RG boxcar (3748?), and caboose 0409, are moved back to Golden CO, to Heritage Square (this used to be Magic Mtn). The caboose was converted to a bar, 2102 and 8714 converted to dining areas (with their sides enclosed now), and the depot became the main restaurant. 3748 ended up as a concession stand. #42 remained here until 1981.||Jerry Albers|
|1971||Bob Shank, living in Durango at this time, begins buying up equipment from the Durango scrappers, and ended up with several pieces of equipment from throughout Colorado. The collection included 2 short cabooses, a long RPO, boxcars, a stock car, the passenger car McPhee (now operating on the D&S), D&RGW diesel #50 (now at the CRRM), the car bodies from Vance Junction, and more. By 1978 Bob had also purchased RGS geese #6 and #7. Bob moved all this equipment from Durango to newly purchased property near Hermosa around 1978, and had hoped to merge the equipment w/ that belonging to Jerry Albers to create the "Western Colorado Museum", but that never happened. Bob also hoped to build a spur off the D&S, so his equipment could operate there, but that also never happened. Bob eventually moved to Tennessee, and tried to sell his collection to Bob Richardson for the CRRM, but it couldn't afford it at the time. Someone else (possibly Dick Kindig) stepped in and bought it, then slowly resold it to CRRM, as they could afford it. Today (2008), Bob's brother Don owns the D&RGW branch to Creede, CO, and was trying to establish a tourist railroad there.||Jerry Albers|
|1972||A little history of RGS reefer 2101... When the sheriff sale happened in 1962 the car was reportedly sold to a group in Wisconsin that was trying to build a tourist train. I suppose the deal fell through and the 2101 sat on the 90 feet of 30 pound rail all alone (in Ridgway), after coach 0260 and caboose 0400 were sold and moved. The reefer sat there until 1972 (I think) when Don Drawer was finally able to obtain it for his Sundown & Southern. He went to the D&RGW and explained it was on their ROW and he would gladly remove it for them. They agreed and he was the proud owner. SMART MOVE. Unfortunately the car was moved to Ft Lupton, CO and just sat there, deteriorating, until the auction in 2002 after Don passed away.||Jerry Albers|
|11-1972||The Ridgway depot has been partially torn down, but about half of the freight house still remained in 1972. Here's a photo of it that Jerry rescued from a flood. This is the remains of the freight section of the Ridgway depot. It had the bay window added for True Grit and was filmed at this location. This was taken in November of 1972 and someone had just started to tear it down. You can barely see the Ridgway depot in the left of the picture. The D&RGW tracks are between the freight portion and the depot. The city park is to the right of the picture.||Jerry Albers|
|1973||Goose #3, formerly sold to Knotts Berry Farm and on static display since 1953, is restored and briefly put into operation on the park's Calico and Ghost Town Railway, while the main power, ex-RGS #41 and ex-D&RG #340 are overhauled. The Goose returned to static display later that year, when the steamers were again available.||Orange v2|
|1973||Ted Van Klaveren and a few friends (and a dog!) were exploring the the still-standing Ames trestle - bridge 43-A - during the summer this year, and snapped a number of photos. He said that the bridge was beginning to get a little shaky at that time. Here's the photos: p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6.||Joe Bartolini|
|1973||Although torn down about 20 years earlier, Ted Van Klavern and
friends were exploring Rico in 1973 and photographed the suprising amount of remains still existing
at the time.
Depot remains: p1
Engine House: p1 p2
Tank: p1 p2 p3 p4
Boxcar sheds: p1 p2 p3 p4
Mystery item: p1
|Ted Van Klavern|
|1973||Ted was also exploring Vance Jct's remains on that trip:
Coach / depot remains: p1 p2
Coaling station: p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6
Various boxcar-sheds: p1 p2 p3 p4
|Ted Van Klavern|
|5-1973||RGS caboose 0400, on
display in Ridgway's city park since 1968 is purchased by Jerry Albers. The car was owned by the
Ridgway Better Business Club, but that had disbanded some years before. The caboose had been used
briefly - apparently just before Jerry's purchase - in the movie
Jerry found Gertrud Perotie thru the postmaster (one of only 3 remaining club members) and the club met one last time to sell the car to Jerry. He moved it to his home in Clifton CO in May, 1973 for restoration. Most of the interior had been used for firewood, one door had been removed and used as a picnic table, and a fire started where the stove once was. There was significant end sill damage as well. At that was left inside was the sink and one bunk in the middle. Even the cupola seats were gone. Here's a series of photos from the move and early restoration work: p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7 p8 p9 p10
|1975||And, a couple of years later Jerry Halbert visited Rico and
took some more photos.
Depot remains: p1
Shop remains: p1 p2
|11-29-1976||Joe Bartolini writes "While working on archeology projects in the [Ridgway] area for a Montrose company I watched a train run on this line in the summer or fall of 1976 while driving down to Ouray. Believed this was the last train to make the run. Hank (from the NGDF") notes the last train ran on Nov 29th.||Joe Bartolini
|1977||The D&RGW line from Montrose to Ridgway was std-gauged in
the 1960s (see above). Sometime after 1977, the track in Ridgway was removed, and Ridgway was again
without rail service, after nearly a century. Some portion of the rest of the line, further north
toward Montrose, apparently remained until at least 1980.
Joe Fuss moved to Montrose in the early 1970s, and was able to see and photograph the last standard gauge run to Ridgway. He writes "I'll never forget the last run to Ridgway on the standard gage. The local priest in Montrose was a railfan and somehow learned of the last train. He called me, and we, along with a very few others, chased the train on a very overcast/rainy day. The good part was that one of the group worked for the railroad and was important enough that he could radio the engineer to "pose" the train at various locations for picture taking -- which happened frequently. (And yes, we were all invited to "trespass" and take our pictures as well.) As I recall, the last load delivered to Ridgway was a gondola of coal. It went south to town, was unloaded, and returned to Montrose that day."
NGDF, 6-3-10" / Jerry Albers
|July 1977||Scott Turner and a friend hiked much of the RGS right-of-way in the summer of 1977, and snapped a couple photos (p1 p2) of the Ames Gulch trestle, bridge 43-A. It's a good thing they did - because soon after it was gone. Terry Shirley heard a story of a couple of guys were camping in the valley below the trestle and during the night a windstorm blew up. During the midst of this, they heard a terrible crashing sound on the mountainside above them. In the morning, they discovered that the trestle had collapsed during the windstorm.||Scott Turner|
|June 1978||Joe Bartolini writes "Between dig projects I spent about a week in May or June 1978 working on a crew removing the rails and ties [near Ridgway]. In 1979 and 1980 I worked on the Old Dallas Archeology Project locating and excavating sites in the Ridgway Reservoir project impact area. In '77 and '78 I was living in a farm house overlooking Dave Wood's old place above the Dallas Road. During this period I would often drive to Ouray on a dirt road that was once the grade between Ridgway and Ouray. Several buildings in Ridgway still had the Fort Smith signage in 1981."||Joe Bartolini|
|Early 1980s||Jerry Albers found a number of boxcars and outfit cars still remaining in the Rico yard. He nearly saved them, but... well, in his own words: "Here is the story on the Rico cars. Bob Shank got the cars from Vance Junction, but I was supposed to get the cars from Rico. The Rico Agrentine Mining Company was "cleaning up" the old Rico yards and mill tailings. I approched them about buying the outfit cars and baggage cars as well as the rail in the engine house. They told me if I hauled it all away, I could have it...including the water tower. I had asked the Mining company to give me 30 days to remove the equipment and they agreed. I arranged for a lowboy to haul the outfit cars and went to Rico to start jacking them up. One week after they agreed to give me 30 days, the cars had all been crushed with a bulldoser and burned. They were going to start on the water tower next but I convinced them to leave it standing if I put a fence around it. I was able to rescue MOST of the rail from the engine house. Part of it was stolen before I could move it all to my home near Grand Junction. It later years I sold the RGS/D&RGW equipment I had already restored. The 0400 is at the CRRM. The rail from the Rico engine house is being used at the Cross Orchards Living History Farm in Grand Junction as part of the Uintah restoration project."||Jerry Albers|
|1981||Engine #42 is purchased by Ed Gerlits from Heritage Square (this used to be Magic Mtn), and then traded to Charlie Bradshaw and the D&SNG railroad (the trade was for 6 charter runs on the D&SNG, which Ed sold tickets for).||Jerry Albers|
|1985||Bob and Earl visited the Ridgway shop area in 1985. The roundhouse was long gone, and there was some sort of business just next to the site. However, you could still see lots of bricks as well as some smoke jacks and the pit locations. Out where the water tank had been the willows were about 15 feet high and it was difficult to see where the tracks had been.||Bob Yarger
|1989||Henry Valdez sent me this photo of D&RG Rotary OY, probably sitting in the yard at Chama, NM. The photo was taken by his cousin's father in 1989, during a trip back to the area where he and wife lived shortly after they were married (they were from Othello WY then). His name was Louis Valdez, and he worked for Henry Valdez's father on the RGS, in Vance Jct and at Peak.||Pers,
|1990||Bob Yarger returned to the Ridgway shop area in 1990, but it had all been bulldozed and leveled by then.||Bob Yarger|
|Summer 1994||Ex-outfit cars RGS 8714 (formerly a boxcar) is rebuilt into a passenger car for the Georgetown Loop Railroad, named 'Torrys Peak'. Stephen Peck took several photos during the rebuilding: pic1 pic2 pic3||Stephen Peck|
|8-23-1997||Bill Lund and others repainted C&TS #463 - one of only two remaining K-27s, as RGS #455 and ran her on portions of the C&TS railroad which resembled the RGS. There's a description of the day on John's RGS site, and a couple of sets of descriptions and photos on the NG Disc List.||NG Disc|
|6-03-1998||Goose #5 makes a historic return to operation, running on the C&TS railroad. Ted Wiese was along for the ride that day, and captured a photo of the goose on the Cascade trestle during the Goose's run to the Osier.||Pers,
|6-1-2000||Exactly 69 years after its creation, RGS Motor #1 was re-created and fired up for the first time. This replica was built by the Ridgway Railroad Museum. It has since run on the C&TS and D&S railroads.||Ridgway RR Mus.|
|9-24-02||The tender for #74 completes its restoration. Work continues on restoring 74 (at least cosmetically).||Boulder Vly Railroad HS|
|9-29-02||The trucks from dynamited RGS Caboose 0401 (see above, 1958) eventually ended up used under the replacement display caboose, D&RGW 04990. During renovation on this day in Sep 2002, it was found that 0401's old trucks were actually from D&RGW 20-ton gondola 8864, built in 1887 and scrapped in 1925. We do know the RGS replaced 0401's original trucks' with freight car trucks about 1950; apparently that care (or at least the trucks) ended up on the RGS after scrapping.||Boulder Vly Railroad HS|
|6-8-2005||Goose #5 returns to the C&TS railroad. Here's a whole pile of photos of her being unloaded and set up, and another pile of her running to the Cumbres summit.||Dead Goat Saloon|
|6-9-2006||Goose #5 runs again on the C&TS railroad. Jaw Wimer took a number of photos for our enjoyment.||Dead Goat Saloon|
|7-18-2006||The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club transferred ownership of the RGS #20 to the Colorado RR Museum and announced that a benefactor has provided funds for the restoration of #20 to operating condition. Funding is also being provided for continued operation after restoration. The work will be done at Strasburg PA.||Dead Goat Saloon|
|7-21-2006||The Hesston Steam Museum fired up Shay #7, which once was used for lumber operations between Dolores & McPhee. This Shay was damaged in a fire in 1985 near the end of a restoration effort, but has recently been re-restored (is that a word?) and is now once again nearly servicable. For more history and photos, see Hesston Volunteers page.||Mike Lagness|
|2016||The Ridgway Railroad Museum has undertaken a project to create a full-size, operating replica of RGS #36, a Baldwin 4-4-0 originally built in 1880. Details and the latest status can be found in this newsletter (PDF). It's expected complete and operational sometime in late 2017.||Ridgway RR Museum|
|Spring 2017||The Ouray County Ranch History Museum has moved into the old RGS depot at Ridgway, meaning the depot building is now open to the public! There are discussions of this new site working with the Ridgway RR Museum regarding the history of the depot.||Ridgway RR Museum|
|© Steven Haworth 2017. All rights reserved|
|Revised 7-7-17||Back to RGS home||Silence now reigns|
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