Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chugga, Chugga, Eureka!!!!

I am an absolute sucker for a steam train. I am just old(or young) enough to remember steam trains being used. Though their use was phased out by those nasty diesel electrics here in the United States, steam locomotives were used in many parts of Germany where I spent my younger days. My Oma lived very close to an industrial area where the little steam switch engines buzzed around day and night. I sometimes still hear their high pitched three tone whistle when I drift off to sleep.
When I found out we were going to be so close to the Georgetown Loop, I quickly added it to my personal agenda. Beth and Halle willingly went along for the ride, and Ava, well, she is thirteen now. There was no way she was going on any stupid train. Her and her Grandmother went shopping and did their nails together. We headed off for Silver Plume.

Honestly, I thought I might piss my pants when we pulled up to the station in Silver Plume. Right next to the car was Number 12 taking on water. I could feel the pulse of the boiler through the car door.

This narrow gauge Baldwin locomotive was built for the sugar plantations of Hawaii. It spent most of it's life hauling sugar cane. Luckily it was bought by a museum in Idaho and brought back to the main land. The only thing negative I can say about it, is it does not burn coal or wood. There is no coal in Hawaii and oil was easier to transport over. None the less, she is a beautiful locomotive.

So why is it called the Georgetown Loop? Because it is one of five rail lines that utilizes a loop track to drop the elevation it cannot do over distance. The train runs between Silver Plume and Georgetown which would require many more miles of track to drop the elevation. By looping it around and under itself they gain the distance needed.

It does this feat by using both sides of the canyon and this beautiful steel bridge. The bridge was rebuilt as was the railroad. It had all been torn up and sold for scrap when the mines played out.

Spectacular view. All that water is heading for the Atlantic. It has a long way to go, down the Mississippi, out through New Orleans, and into the Gulf of Mexico first.

Hey, we were just up there and now we' re down below.

A part I left out is the old Number 12 is too tiny a locomotive to pull us back up hill. A very rare, narrow gauge diesel switch engine is used to assist. They said only three of these type locomotives still exist. This is one, another sits on cribbing in the repair shop. The third is in a museum somewhere else. Not a big fan of diesel locomotives, but the way cool narrow gauge factor more than made up for it.

Next year this locomotive will be pulling the cars up the mountain. She will need no help with the task, for she is a Shay.

The Shay locomotive was built to tame mountain grades. Developed by the logging industry to climb grades with very level loads. Once this locomotive is done, she will be spectacular. The reason a Shay can climb such grades is due to geared drive wheels.

This is one of the three geared trucks. I am sure a return visit is in the cards.

Hopefully when I return this parlor car will be on the rails also. Man, do I enjoy a train ride.

I like rainbows too. A double rainbow was even nicer....

We visited another boomtown the day after the train ride. The full time population is zero here now but once it was 5,000. There are some seasonally occupied cabins in the area, but we saw no one. There is also a few operating claims here too. We saw no one, not even ghosts.

What we did find were many abandoned mines in the area.

Blown down and torn up stamp mills were a testimony to the gold and silver taken from this area.

The leaching tanks still sit where they did even though the entire building is fallen down around it.

Now somewhere in this general vicinity others have found gold. They did not find it all however. A little bit of it was left behind to be found by me. Now I just need to file those claim papers with the BLM. I will call my mine The Wandering Fool Mine.

More is to come soon. Hope you will stop back in soon....


Nicki said...

glad to see we aren't the only ones who love a good train ride! Glad you finally got to your camera cable though sorry we couldn't meet up along the way.

TomW said...

There's a vendor that claims "You can't stop a Trane!".

A Shay could.


Carl said...

Looks like another nice vacation. There's a working Shay Worm Drive Steam Locomotive at the The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton, PA.