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40 years of North American photography


Johann Marsbar
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6 hours ago, Johann Marsbar said:

Today marks the 40th anniversary of taking my first ever rail photo in the USA - 18th December 1981  - 

At that time I was in mourning for the imminent demise of the Deltics!!

I knew about American trains & short lines through the writings of Chris Ellis in Airfix Model Trains; it would be another 8 years before I actually started modelling US outline.

Thanks for posting, & looking forward to more! :yes:

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6 minutes ago, F-UnitMad said:

At that time I was in mourning for the imminent demise of the Deltics!!

I knew about American trains & short lines through the writings of Chris Ellis in Airfix Model Trains; it would be another 8 years before I actually started modelling US outline.

Thanks for posting, & looking forward to more! :yes:

 

Going a bit off topic, but I obviously missed the final Deltic runs, but had almost frozen solid on this Norwich to York Excursion 5 days before flying out to the USA.....

 

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...the only trip I've been on where the inside of the carriage windows have frozen!  (though the Cravens DMU on the Ipswich to Norwich connecting service wasn't much better...).

 

It actually took a few trips over there (and a visit to Caboose Hobbies in 1987) to make the decision to change my N layout to US outline and dispose of the British stuff, though I did buy an HO model of a Southern Railway switcher on the first trip, which I still have here in a display cabinet...

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Johann Marsbar said:

 

Going a bit off topic, but I obviously missed the final Deltic runs, but had almost frozen solid on this Norwich to York Excursion 5 days before flying out to the USA.....

 

81-764.JPG.735e81bb53d7ac04b92d60b381150536.JPG

 

...the only trip I've been on where the inside of the carriage windows have frozen!  (though the Cravens DMU on the Ipswich to Norwich connecting service wasn't much better...).

 

It actually took a few trips over there (and a visit to Caboose Hobbies in 1987) to make the decision to change my N layout to US outline and dispose of the British stuff, though I did buy an HO model of a Southern Railway switcher on the first trip, which I still have here in a display cabinet...

 

 


Ahhh!  Nostalgia - it ain’t what it used to be.  I’m looking forwards to seeing more: a couple of your photos of Independence were shared in my HO Santa Fe thread around a year ago, and it’s good to know more about the trip.  Bring it on…

 

I can also tick the boxes for modelling in British N scale in 1981 (my first layout, never sceniced).  With a limited choice of r-t-r in those days the Lima Deltic was the loco we dreamed of, towering over its 1:160 Mk1 coaches, but I never had one.  Oddly enough, 55 002 pictured here was the only Class 55 I ever saw in service, on a family trip to York from the Midlands where I grew up.  I can also tick the box for Airfix Model Trains magazine @F-UnitMad mentions - it seemed more at my level than my Dad’s Railway Modeller, but it was his Model Railroader magazines that were really inspiring: they are why I’m here :D.

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3 hours ago, F-UnitMad said:

At that time I was in mourning for the imminent demise of the Deltics!!

I knew about American trains & short lines through the writings of Chris Ellis in Airfix Model Trains; it would be another 8 years before I actually started modelling US outline.

Thanks for posting, & looking forward to more! :yes:

My experience was very similar. In 1981 I resumed by interest in railways,like you chasing Deltics. Model railways naturally followed and I began building small BR diesel layouts.

 

The writings of Chris Ellis also were also instumental in the beginning of my interest in US railroads and modelling.  However, seeing a small US switching layout at a local exhibition built by the late Mike Scott who demonstrated the magic of kadee hands free uncoupling, was the catalyst to get me started in US modelling. 

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After discovering just what Independence, KS, had to offer on my first full day (ie not a lot...), the subject of spending a bit of time in Denver was brought up and after some discussion, it was agreed that it would be possible, so arrangements were duly made to head off there by car on 20th, returning on Christmas Eve to his Mothers in Independence, which would give 3 full days there with his Father, Step-Mother and her children. One of the sticking points was that his car should have been re-licenced with Kansas plates when he moved there earlier that year, but he still had the Colorado plates on it - technically illegal - but in the end his equal desire to go back for a few days, saw that being ignored in the end!

 

His car at that time was a 1964 Mercury Marauder, which was regarded as some sort of classic, despite it only being 17 years old at the time.....

 

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....so on 20th December we duly made an early start for what was something like a 620 mile drive for him, mainly on rather boring Interstates (I135 & I70) to Aurora in the eastern suburbs of Denver. For a lot of the journey on I70 we followed a couple of UP lines, but, other than a load of parked up grain hoppers at most towns, we saw no rail activity - certainly nothing moving on the lines.  The most memorable sight on the first part of the trip was actually seeing Tumbleweed blowing across the roads - something I'd only seen in Westerns prior to that!

 

There then followed a very enjoyable 3 days in Denver, where the lifestyle was rather different to Kansas, to say the least.   One thing I was aware of before my trip to the US was the existence of the Colorado RR Museum at Golden, so a visit was made there on the first day......

 

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I  get the impression that the place has changed rather a lot since my last visit there in 1983 and certainly the trams that were on display there (owned by the Rocky Mountain RR Club) have all gone on to new owners......

 

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....with the Denver & Intermountain car #25 now being owned by the City of Lakewood, CO, and the Fort Collins Birney/Los Angeles PCC being owned by the Pikes Peak Historical Railway in Colorado Springs.

 

From there we continued to a place I hadn't heard of before - The Forney Transportation Museum  - which at that stage was located in the former Denver Tramways power station located in downtown Denver.  The rail exhibits, notably a UP Big Boy #4005 and a C&NW 4-6-0 #444, were displayed outdoors....

 

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...whilst my memory of the extensive road vehicle display in the building was there being an awful lot of stuff packed in there, though the lighting conditions left a lot to be desired!

The Forney Museum has since moved to brand new premises a bit further out of the centre. though the Tramway Power building has been restored and seems to be used by a commercial firm as a warehouse.

 

Other than the preserved stuff, I saw very little of the current railscene whilst there, and the only photo I took was this UP switcher the following day in an Industrial area not far from the house in Aurora . It had snowed rather a lot overnight as well...

 

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All too soon, the time in Denver came to an end and we duly headed back to Kansas on Christmas Eve, though the Denver visit had established a potential location as a base for future trips to the US and which I took up for my next two visits there.

 

To be continued....

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1 hour ago, johnb said:

Ah! The Forney Transportation Museum in the old power house, what a wonderul place!!! As you say everything absolutely rammed in with a Big Boy parked outside! Great fun.

 

I did get a photo of the Big Boy at the time, though space was a bit restricted to get a wider view of it.....

 

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...and there was zero chance of photographing anything inside the museum due to the lack of light rather than anything else!

 

 

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The remaining 7 days of my trip were spent in Independence, though a few visits were made to local towns, namely Cherryvale and Coffeyville in Kansas and Bartlesville in Oklahoma, though I didn't see much rail activity in any of those places. At that stage I hadn't fully gone over to slide film and one of the print films I used managed to get affected by the scanners at the airport (it was 400 asa as opposed to my usual 100 asa print film) - either that or the processing lab fouled it up - so the results weren't very good.

 

Cherryvale had quite a network of trackage and it was where the former Frisco Lines ran through up to the previous year (1980) before being taken over by BN.  I did see some BN power on my trip, but nothing in Frisco colours other than a lot of diesel loco photographs which had been taken by a friend of the family I was staying with.

The fairly classic Santa Fe depot at Cherryvale looked in good condition, though the windows were boarded up at that time and the train order signals were long gone. The place now seems to be used as the HQ of the South Kansas & Oklahoma RR, which includes the former ATSF line through Independence.

 

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There was a semaphore signal sitll extant in the yard opposite though...

 

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I did drop lucky one morning between Christmas and the New Year in Independence with an eastbound Santa Fe freight close to the flat crossing between that line and the MoPac line...

 

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...which was followed soon after by a southbound MoPac freight.....

 

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The MoPac Caboose is an example of the last type they puchased and, being built in 1980, was fairly new at the time I saw it.  I did find yesterday that the previous one in the number sequence, #13936, is now preserved at a museum in California.

 

The last photo posted here from this trip, which was one of the ones from the damaged film that wasn't affected too badly, shows a BN coal train heading south past the former station on the MoPac line, presumably a trackage rights working inherited from their takeover of the Frisco, though the third unit appears to be a MoPac locomotive...

 

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The only other Railroad that I saw a locomotive from was a solitary MKT unit at Coffeyville which was too far away to get a photo of. I never saw another one after that, other than the UP "Heritage" version .

 

I flew home with TWA, again via Chicago, on 2nd January, thus bringing my first US trip to an end.   Over the remainder of 1982, plans were put in place for a return visit to Denver the following year, once I had completed the final exams for my HND course and was awaiting the results.

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I've been trying to place where that last photo was taken.

I had friends who lived in Independence, KS from 2006 until 2016 although I only visited up to 2010. They lived about a block away from Independence High School and were a short walk from the line that runs in to town from the east, many times I heard trains, some I tried to see them but only once did I actually see something - a SKOL train (no, not a lager train)

 

I thought that pic might have been taken from the bridge that carries Main Street over the line, but some of the landmarks have changed, and I'm a little bit lost now!

 

 

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6 minutes ago, ChrisH-UK said:

I've been trying to place where that last photo was taken.

I had friends who lived in Independence, KS from 2006 until 2016 although I only visited up to 2010. They lived about a block away from Independence High School and were a short walk from the line that runs in to town from the east, many times I heard trains, some I tried to see them but only once did I actually see something - a SKOL train (no, not a lager train)

 

I thought that pic might have been taken from the bridge that carries Main Street over the line, but some of the landmarks have changed, and I'm a little bit lost now!

 

 

 

I just retreived my 40 year old map of Independence which I was actually looking at earlier today....

 

Yes, I was standing on Main Street bridge to take the photo, which appears to be the same 1930's (?) concrete structure that is there today. I was looking north, with the roof of the Missouri Pacific depot building visible in the foreground, which was still a manned location on the railroad back in 1981. The road the other side of the tracks is 21st Street, with the Laurel Street grade crossing visible just beyond the grey hopper car in the siding.

The first of the two flat crossings between the MoPac & ATSF lines is in the distance, above the first coal car - you can just about see a silver object which is a signaling control box for the diamond. The more northern ATSF line is lifted now, but certainly was still there in 1981.

 

Looking at Google Earth,  only one of the structures visible on the right of the tracks in the photo is there now - the 2 story brick one by the grain hopper.  I did spend some time last year trying to trace where the Union Traction Interurban ran on Google Earth, particularly through Independence, and was surprised how easy it was to follow for most of the route. The steam loco in the Park in Independence seems to be standing on part of the trackbed the UT line took through the park!

 

I can't remember the exact address I stayed at, but I think it was 15th Street, just south of Main Street, but I may still have it on a letter here somewhere.  I certainly never went anywhere near the section of 19th Street that has a concrete strip in the red brick pavement where the Interurban tracks used to be - something I discovered on Google Streetview last year!

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I never even knew about the Interurban line, although I do have a vague recollection of seeing the brick/concrete striping on 19th St from the bridge. I don't think it's me being revisionist but I'm not ruling it out. Gonna have to do some research, and probably add it back to my list of places to revisit, lol.

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5 minutes ago, ChrisH-UK said:

I never even knew about the Interurban line, although I do have a vague recollection of seeing the brick/concrete striping on 19th St from the bridge. I don't think it's me being revisionist but I'm not ruling it out. Gonna have to do some research, and probably add it back to my list of places to revisit, lol.

 

You need to watch this then.......

 

 

I don't know whether the line has ever been covered by a book on its history, but I was amazed to find this on You Tube - particularly given it's in colour and the line shut in 1947 - and its what started me off looking at Google Earth and retrace its course.  I did find another website that gave details of a couple of local lines that operated totally within Independence for a few years as well.

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Fast forward to April 1983 now and I duly flew out of Gatwick on the 7th onboard an American Airlines DC10 bound for DFW where I changed to a Boeing 727 for an onward connection to Denver, Stapleton Airport, which in those days was the City airport. The current Denver International Airport was still 12 years away from opening at that time.

Up to 2001 I don't have any detailed notes of my North American trips, so at the moment this is all being put together from my memory and the photos I took, but I know that the following day I was taken into their place of work, before the staff all went out for a group breakfast meeting, before I spent the rest of the day with one of their salesmen (they were a firm dealing with "Speciality Advertising") out on the road which entailed a run up to Fort Collins.   Their Office was located on West 3rd Avenue - part of Denver that has been completely rebuilt since that time - and just as we were about to leave, this SW1200 literally trundled past the front door (the office is the brick building behind),  which ended up as the only rail photo taken that day.

 

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Walthers appear to have produced an HO model of that particular loco in recent years.

 

One advantage of Denver was that I has a decent public transport service (The RTD was all bus at that time) so I was able to travel around the place without relying on my hosts for transport and there were even some Interurban bus services that went out to the likes of Boulder and Longmont.

This was particularly useful as they worked (what seemed to me in those days) very long hours Mon-Fri - generally 06.00 to 19.00 , if not more - plus they had an office at the house as well, and was where the US "work ethic" first became apparent to me. They were amazed that I could get around on the buses because they didn't realise it was something like a 15 min frequency service straight downtown from a stop about 5 mins from their house - having never used buses themselves for about 30 years+  !!

 

At weekends, they didn't work, so trips were taken into the surrounding area - particularly towards the mountains, and one of these trips produced Colorado & Southern #60 on display with a passenger car in Idaho Springs.  It seems to located in Idaho Springs today, but has gravitated to a better display area in some parkland.

 

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A rather energetic walk from their house one day ("People don't walk anywhere here" I was told...) to the nearest rail line produced this UP GP30 + Caboose combination, along with a lower quadrant semaphore.....

 

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A return visit was made to the Colorado Railroad Museum using the RTD bus service that ran out to Golden, the only change in the exhibits since late 1981 seeming to be this Denver Tramways GMC TDH5105 bus dating from 1958 - a vehicle that is now apparently a "Historic vehicle" within the RTD fleet...

 

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Opposite the Museum, there was a fair bit of rail activity around the Coors Brewery.  I'd never heard of Coors before this trip and they seemed to me to be only a fairly large regional brewing outfit, not realising that they would be embarking on a programme of World domination within the next 15 or so years!!

 

Coors switcher C989 was a 1952 built SW8, formerly Rock Island #832......

 

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......whilst the local trip freight on the BN line to Golden was being worked by their SD9  #6227

 

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I did return to Golden the following day to go on the Public tour of the Coors brewery, during which nobody actually bothered to ask me my age, which could have been interesting as I was still below the legal age to consume alcohol in Colorado at that time (by a couple of weeks...) - not that I knew what the local rules were at that point anyway!

 

The last one of this batch shows one of the MCR/Vetter buses dating from 1982 that RTD used on the 16th Street Mall free shuttle in the City Centre

 

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This was one of their efforts to revitalise the Downtown area and I seem to recall that the eventual plan was to route the Light Rail down there once they started to build the system (they were still arguing about it in 1983..)  but that never happened.  They had 6 battery operated versions, but I can't recall any of them being in use on this particular holiday.

 

 

 

.

 

Edited by Johann Marsbar
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On 20/12/2021 at 01:08, Johann Marsbar said:

The only other Railroad that I saw a locomotive from was a solitary MKT unit at Coffeyville which was too far away to get a photo of. I never saw another one after that, other than the UP "Heritage" version .


I’ve also seen a single MKT unit. It was in New Braunfels, Texas in the summer of 1989. UP had taken MKT over the previous year and had quickly sorted out the MKT fleet, scrapping some, selling some, repainting those it was keeping. We were on one side of a field when a UP train went past with a unit still in MKT colours amongst the power. In a mad scramble to get hold of a camera (which I didn’t manage to do in time), I didn’t even register its number. Later in the day, I heard another train coming, got the camera and ran through the field to the side of the track. I was wearing shorts, but the thought of snakes and chiggers didn’t occur until later. And this train had all UP power!

 

I saw the MKT heritage unit (what a horrible colour scheme!) in Houston some years later.

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11 hours ago, pH said:


I’ve also seen a single MKT unit. It was in New Braunfels, Texas in the summer of 1989. UP had taken MKT over the previous year and had quickly sorted out the MKT fleet, scrapping some, selling some, repainting those it was keeping. We were on one side of a field when a UP train went past with a unit still in MKT colours amongst the power. In a mad scramble to get hold of a camera (which I didn’t manage to do in time), I didn’t even register its number. Later in the day, I heard another train coming, got the camera and ran through the field to the side of the track. I was wearing shorts, but the thought of snakes and chiggers didn’t occur until later. And this train had all UP power!

 

I saw the MKT heritage unit (what a horrible colour scheme!) in Houston some years later.

 

I'm jumping rather out of sequence here, but in June 2011 I found the MKT heritage unit parked up in Rochelle, Il, along with the "Boy Scouts" liveried one, ready for the local "Rail Days" that were going to be held the forthcoming weekend.....

 

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The MKT one was nicely posed, but the BSA one was more of a challenge as it obviously wasn't in its final position for the event!

 

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I only saw one MKT unit to photograph clearly during my extensive travels, SD40-2 617 at BN's Denver shops on 4 August 1984.  It wears the final "John Derre" green livery which replaced the earlier deep red.  The UP "heritage" unit is a tribute rather than a recreation as are all the UP ones.

 

 

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However, sister 634 was the second unit in this eastbound at Borie five days earlier but the lead unit was of far more interest - Centennial 6929!

 

 

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23 hours ago, Johann Marsbar said:

 

One advantage of Denver was that I has a decent public transport service (The RTD was all bus at that time) so I was able to travel around the place without relying on my hosts for transport and there were even some Interurban bus services that went out to the likes of Boulder and Longmont.

This was particularly useful as they worked (what seemed to me in those days) very long hours Mon-Fri - generally 06.00 to 19.00 , if not more - plus they had an office at the house as well, and was where the US "work ethic" first became apparent to me. They were amazed that I could get around on the buses because they didn't realise it was something like a 15 min frequency service straight downtown from a stop about 5 mins from their house - having never used buses themselves for about 30 years+  !!

A few years ago we got chatting to a bloke in his 20's in a craft beer bar in downtown Denver. We were quite surprised that he didn't own a car as he worked in downtown and took the bus home to and from  the then new Union station bus terminal that runs perpendicular under the rail platforms . He said that the bus service was that good that he just didn't require a car and it allowed him to have a few beers after work before heading home to Boulder.

We have used the Denver transport system quite extensively on each visit especially with the rail line that now serves Denver airport.

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On 20/12/2021 at 13:16, Johann Marsbar said:

 

You need to watch this then.......

 

 

I don't know whether the line has ever been covered by a book on its history, but I was amazed to find this on You Tube - particularly given it's in colour and the line shut in 1947 - and its what started me off looking at Google Earth and retrace its course.  I did find another website that gave details of a couple of local lines that operated totally within Independence for a few years as well.

I find it incredible that such a system existed in that very rural corner of SE Kansas. I just took it for granted that Independence and Coffeyville had some other advantage that lead them to be that much more developed than the rest of the area (I only passed through Cherryvale once so can't comment either way on that place). So I guess part of the reason my friends moved there was a legacy of the railroads that you can still see and the interurban that is long gone.

 

Btw the only parts of the video that I actually recognised for certain were the rail bridges in Coffeyville and Independence.

 

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During my stay in Denver, I did have a couple of attempts at linesiding on the main routes heading out of the City, Littleton being one of the places I tried, helped by the fact that I could get there from Aurora on the bus without going into the City Centre and using a Transfer Ticket via a Transport Interchange en-route.  One of the RTD AM General buses which were the sort of things I was travelling on is shown below at the bus station in Littleton.

 

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Looking at Google Earth, Littleton appears to have changed out of all recognition now, with the RTD Light Rail running there and the rail lines grade seperated from the roadways - not the case in 1983.  I spent several hours there one day and was rewarded by 3 trains passing, so hardly a lot of activity.  There were a couple of (very) short locals, but the only decent sized train was this Southbound BN freight headed by 3 x SD40-2's (7047, 7192 & 8037) , multiple lashups of such power being very common then.

 

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I think the trackworks going on and visible in the shot above were most probably the reason for the lack of rail traffic. There were 2 indepenent lines through there then and you can just make out a signal post on the other line to the right of the two workers in hard hats.

 

The following day was a Saturday, so we went out for a run north from Denver up to Greeley.  By this stage , various diversions were being made from the sightseeing routine to see if there was anything of rail interest about!  They didn't seem to be too bothered about just driving into rail yards, and I remember we did a full tour round the Rio Grande loco depot in Denver in the car, though I didn't actually get out of the vehicle to get any photos.

 

First stop was Brighton, where the former station had been put to other uses....

 

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...and this southbound freight conveniently appeared whilst we were there, led by another SD40-2 with 2 SP locos behind

 

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Next stop was at La Salle where he just drove straight into the yard and I was able to photograph my one and only WP loco - another GP40-2

 

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We got to Greeley around the time that the Amtrak San Francisco Zephyr was on its run from Cheyenne to Denver, so we waited for it to arrive (on time as well!)

 

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Whilst a call in at the local history museum in Greeley produced this Birney Car body owned by the museum.  The lettering on it is pure fantasy though, as it's actually ex Colorado Springs and Interurban and dates from 1918. It was privately owned prior to them aquiring it, so that might be who applied the lettering.

The Greeley Centennial Village Museum still have it today, but I believe it has been restored since then - Its certainly said to have a truck now which there was no sign of in '83.

 

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Another destination travelled to on RTD was Boulder.  I never did locate the active rail line in the area on this occasion, but found yet another preserved Colorado & Southern steam loco accompanied by a coach and a caboose, located in an area of parkland downtown....

 

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For their interurban services, RTD used proper coaches rather than buses with better seats which seems the norm with some other US operators, such as this MCI MC-8 dating from 1978 which I returned to Denver from Boulder on.  Some routes used ones dating from the 1960's and I did see a couple of those on my travels.

 

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One Sunday, we took a trip up to Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the car where I did see this Big Boy on display in the local park....

 

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I certainly went to a few places off the Tourist trail on this holiday, the one in Cheyenne being an ICBM base - presumably Francis E. Warren Air Force Base!   They had a habit of calling in at suitable Military installations to visit the Base PX or cafe facilities on their trips out and as he was still Airforce Reserve, he just waved his ID card at the gate and they never bothered to check who else was travelling in the car in those days.  Fort Carson & Cheyenne Mountain (plus the Airforce Academy) in Colorado Springs were other ones I visited  during this holiday!

The direct route from their house to central Denver (and their workplace) was straight through (the then active) Lowry Airforce Base so they were able to have a shorter route than non military card carriers, although the RTD bus route also went that way with the bus being looked at prior to being allowed through, even if they didn't bother checking the individual passengers.

 

Whilst we were in Downtown Cheyenne, I did have a look at the station and from the bridge over the yard/loco depot, but after we left there, they drove out to a location where we were fairly close to the UP main line to the west for an hour, where freights seemed to appear about every 10 mins, even on a Sunday.

 

Here a U30C leads a pair of C30-7's on one of those trains....

 

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On another weekday, I took a wander north of the Denver central area and discovered a very handy bridge that gave a good view over the extensive (in those days..) trackage just north of Union Station, including the BN loco depot.  It was SD40-2 heaven then, but there were other types around the turntable.....

 

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I've since realised that I did have a run out to Caboose Hobbies during my stay in Denver and the sheer variety of N Scale stock that was on display - particularly things that you couldn't readilly get or were totally unknown here - was a deciding factor in me switching over from UK outline N, though I can't recall actually buying any models there on that visit - that had to wait until my next holiday there....

 

There is one more batch of pictures from 1983 which I'll post sometime tomorrow which will conveniently "finish off" this one in time for a break over Christmas!

 

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The end of this particular holiday was getting near, so I selected another random location served by the RTD Interurban bus network that looked as though there might be some rail activity there - this time choosing Longmont, where I did drop lucky and see some trains moving. My "ride" there was provided by this 1977 GMC P8M-4905A (nothing like a simple model designation...)

 

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Longmont is a junction for a number of minor lines, though the trackage nowadays appears much reduced since 1983 on Google Earth and the surrounding industries have all been replaced by housing developments.  The old station building is still there, but on my visit in '83, it appeared that the the place was still in Railroad use , including operating train order signals ...

 

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There were a couple of BN SD9's pottering about the place making up trains , one of which is seen below....

 

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Other than that, there wasn't a lot in Longmont, though I did manage to pick up a Dinky Toy model of a US Police Car from one of the shops - long after Dinky had ceased production here!

A quick look at Google Earth yesterday indicated that there are no less that 4 different Micro-Breweries located Downtown today - certainly not the case in 1983 as the US Craft Beer Revolution had yet to start....

 

For my last full day in Denver, I spent a few hours in the morning on the bridge over the tracks just north of Union Station observing any movements that were taking place. There appeared to be lots of power moves rather than freight trains....

 

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...and the westbound Amtrak departed whilst I was there

 

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As an aside, the last run of the D&RGW operated Rio Grande Zephyr took place whilst I was in Denver, but I regret never attempting to photograph the thing whilst I was there. I know my Hosts did try and get some tickets to ride on it before it finished, but, not surprisingly they were fully sold out.  He even tried through some Railroad contacts higher up in the Management, but to no avail...

 

In the afternoon I decided to try the lines south of Denver again to see if any freights were running, but by the time I got to Englewood the weather had taken a turn for the worse so I didn't fancy hanging around at the lineside, so aborted staying there for too long.

What I didn't expect to find there was this horse tram on display though.....

 

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...let alone one of the type where the horse pulled it uphill and then rode back downhill on the rear platform!!

 

There is much more information on this website about it.....

https://ceramembersblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/a-horsecar-named-cherrelyn/

... and it's now on display inside the Civic Centre building, rather than being outside. Looking at the photos of it in service, you do wonder how much of the original is left though!

 

A return to Gatwick through DFW and a 727/DC10 combination came the next day and there was to be a 4 year gap before I ventured to the US again for what was more of a "Railfan" slanted holiday than the first two.

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Your comments about entering military establishments brings to mind a visit I made to the Hudson Valley in February 1995 in the company of a good friend who, at the time, was a senior LIRR engineer (since retired).

 

Reggie announced he knew a great place for lunch and pointed the car westwards over the Bear Mountain Bridge then hung a right towards the village of West Point.  He drove straight down main street and then through the gates of West Point Military Academy (The American equivalent of Sandhurst) under the seemingly unconcerned gaze of the sentries.  He then turned up onto a bluff and drew up outside a very upmarket looking hotel where a liveried valet opened the car doors and offered to park the car.  At this point I should mention that Reggie at the time was running a 15 year old Toyota Celica with bodywork which showed evidence of every one of the 200k+ miles on its clock although it was maintained to the highest standards.  What this flunky thought can only be imagined.

 

We entered the main hall – all wood panelling, crystal chandeliers and thick carpets – and were shown to the dining room overlooking the river by the Maître D.  I’d rashly said I’d pay for lunch and was beginning to worry.  “My credit card only has a £5k limit” I mentioned sheepishly.  “That should just about cover it” was the reply.  As we sat down in the deep leather chairs around the table with its thick white cloth and heavy gilt cutlery I opened the leather-bound menu, complete with golden tassel, with some trepidation.  To my surprise and great relief, the prices were no more than you’d expect to pay in a regular family diner.  It seems the hotel was mainly provided for the families of students and came to life at each passing-out parade.  At other times it was open to anyone but a bit of a well kept secret, heavily subsidised by the US Government.

 

Having finished a superb and leisurely lunch, the car was retrieved and Reggie drove us further into the base and down the hill to the site of the old West Shore RR West Point station (now an officers’ mess) and the dock where Coastguard ice breakers were preparing to go out and do battle.  At the north end of the station the line passes under the military academy in a tunnel.  No sooner than we had arrived than there was a subterranean rumbling and a southbound Conrail freight burst out.  Pure luck as you could easily wait hours to see one!

 

The West Point visit was the highlight of the day and one I’m sure was not repeatable after 9/11 which turned the whole of the US paranoid.

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20 minutes ago, Mike_Walker said:

The West Point visit was the highlight of the day and one I’m sure was not repeatable after 9/11 which turned the whole of the US paranoid.

 

I went on an Aviation Tour to the western USA in 1997 (which will feature on here in a minor way..) and we got away with various things which you certainly couldn't do after 9/11 - i.e. get permit for vehicle at Main Gate to visit Museum on the Base, and then the notice would "fall off" the windscreen after visiting the Museum whilst a full tour of the Base was undertaken to get the aircraft serial numbers, before replacing it and leaving the site in the normal manner.....

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