A labor of love

Material Information

A labor of love preserving Colorado's railroad heritage
Portion of title:
Preserving Colorado's railroad heritage
Barber, Daniel
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
viii, 148 leaves : ; 29 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Railroads -- History -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Railroads ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )


Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado at Denver, 1997. History
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 142-148).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, History.
General Note:
Department of History
Statement of Responsibility:
by Daniel Barber.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
38324951 ( OCLC )


This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


A LABOR OF LOVE: PRESERVING COLORADO'S RAILROAD HERITAGE by Daniel Barber B.A. University of Dmver. 1974 Athedssubnrlttedtothe University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulf"dlment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts History 1997


This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Daniel W. Barber has been approved by Thomas }oel Tu{Lf ?.S'l Date


Barber, Daniel Wynn (M.A. History) A Labor of Love: Preserving Colorado's Railroad Heritage Thesis directed by Professor Thomas J. Noel ABSTRACT Railroads played a vital role in the settlement and economic growth of Colorado. Every major industry owed much of its success to the railroads. This important chapter in the history of the state has been preserved by professional historians and archivists whose work has made the story accessible to future generations of Coloradans. There is, however, another group of historians whose love of railroads and history has compelled them to join the efforts to save our railroad heritage in ways that are often similar, and frequently very different from those employed by their professional counterparts. These amateur historian/preservationists can be found across Colorado, and their endeavors have helped to preserve a tremendous amount of our history. Their work and its contribution to railroad preservation is the focus of this thesis. The study will begin with a look at what might well be regarded as the heart of railroad preservation and history in the state of Colorado --the Colorado iii


Railroad Museum in Golden, with an emphasis on the man who made that museum possible, Robert Richardson. The second chapter examines the efforts of William Kazel to save the roundhouse at Como. Although not a serious railroad enthusiast, Bill Kazel heard the call of preservation and launched a one-man crusade to bring a remarkable example of railroad architecture back from the edge of collapse. The third chapter enters the world of an unheralded group of amateur historians whose research has a very immediate purpose --model railroaders. While pursuing their hobby, these rail enthusiasts have added new knowledge to the study of railroad history. At the same time, their craft creates kinetic sculptures of a time that now exists only in black and white photographs. Finally, the paper concludes with an essay on the sometimes conflicting roles of amateur and professional historians. Is there, and should there be, hostility between two groups who are striving to reach the same goal --the keeping of history? This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed Thomas J 7'Noel iv


DEDICATION This thesis is dedicated to the memory of Agostino D. Mastrogiuseppe 1939 -1996


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the fine historians and preservationists who contributed their time in making this thesis possible. Charles Albi executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum Robert H. Boorman model railroader Dale Evans model railroader Duncan Harvey model railroader William G. Kazel owner and preservationist of the Como Roundhouse Kurt Nielsen model railroader Thomas J. Noel Professor of History, University of Colorado Cris Park model railroader Randall Rieck model railroader John E. Robinson model railroader


CONTENTS CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2. THE COLORADO RAILROAD MUSEUM.................... 7 Bob Richardson--Colorado's Number One Ra i 1 Fan ................................ . 9 Building a Collection .................. 13 Growth and Transition ..................... 20 Competition--The "Arniell Affair" ....... 22 The Museum as a Business ................... 29 Railroad Preservation ..................... 31 Analysis................................... 37 3. THE COMO ROUNDHOUSE ........................... 41 The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad .. 43 Como Becomes a Rail Center ................. 48 The Como Roundhouse ........................ 50 Roundhouse Construction and Restoration .... 54 4. MODEL RAILROADERS: HISTORY FOR THE FUN OF IT ..... 65 A Profile of Model Railroaders ............. 65 Seven Modelers Who Have Fun With Railroad. History........................... 71 Research: How Prototype Modelers Get it Right ............................ 77 vii


Modeling For Historical Accuracy ........... 88 Model Railroaders as Historians ............ 92 Models as Art and History .................. 97 Looking Ahead .............................. 101 5. HISTORY WITH A PASSION: THE ROLE OF NON-PROFESSIONALS IN WRITING COLORADO RAILROAD HISTORY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 The Importance of Railroads in Colorado History ........................... 105 Historians: Professional, Amateur, and Buff ........... 109 Comparative Approaches. . . . . . . . . . . 112 Professional vs Non-Professional: The Debate ....................... ,. ......... 121 The Future. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 6. CONCLUSION .............................. ........ 130 NOTES ................................. 133 BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 viii


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION "PIKES PEAK OR BUST" Just as these words often appeared on the wagons of argonauts pushing west, so too are they stamped across the first century of Colorado's history. As with so many states whose economies have depended on the whims of mineral extraction, Colorado's history has been punctuated with repeating cycles of boom and bust. From the early gold camps along Cherry Creek and the South Platte, through the rich strikes at Gregory Gulch and Cripple Creek, the gold hunters built their camps, worked their claims, then moved on as the ore played out. At silver camps such as Leadville and Creede, boom was again followed by bust. Some towns, like Aspen, found rejuvenation in skiing and tourism, while others simply faded away, swelling the growing roll call of ghost towns. Only the objects of extraction changed as the boom and bust cycles rolled into the Twentieth Century. Fossil fuels, radioactive ores, and minerals like molybdenum attracted investors with their siren song of 1


profit, only to dash them on the rocks in the ebb and flow. of international economics. The town of Parachute was nearly swept away in the Exxon oil shale fiasco of the late 1970s. Denver itself was badly shaken by the collapse of petroleum prices in the early 1980s. Boom and bust. The empty carcasses of abandoned mine shacks and head frames dot mountainsides like the skeletons of extinct dinosaurs. Here and there these silent witnesses to long-dead days of mineral hysteria keep company with another kind of relic. Water tanks, stations, road beds, and rotting timber bridges stand as reminders that the myriad mining camps were once strung together by an iron network of rails. Like the mining camps they served, the railroads came and went as the Rockies yielded up their mineral bounty in what seemed an endless feast. At their zenith in the early years of this century, Colorado railroads struggled to reach into every nook and cranny in the the mountains. They climbed hillsides, pierced rock walls, and spanned canyons to.tap the profits flowing from the mining camps. Then, in the years following World War I, the feast often turned to famine, and rail lines began to close. One after another, the railroads abandoned their 2


mountain routes, pulling up tracks and leaving behind only the naked roadbeds and the dying structures that had once serviced a vibrant economy. By the end of World War II, narrow gauge mountain lines had all but disappeared. Steam was soon replaced by diesel. Passenger service dwindled. One after another, Colorado's legendary railroads were swallowed in rapacious corporate mergers. Today, Colorado's railroads are another strand in a nation-wide web of a few railroad super-powers. At the turn.of the century, the state could count dozens of independently owned railroads, from tiny operations like the Gilpin Tram in Blackhawk and the Book Cliff Railway in Grand Junction, to national giants like the Santa Fe or the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. As the next century dawns, Colorado railroading will be dominated by two gigantic conglomerates: the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific and the Burlington/Santa Fe. The passing of the railroads or perhaps, more correctly, their metamorphosis --need not be mourned by those who cherish the memory of old lines and steam locomotives. The dynamics of history has always been change, and change is not necessarily bad. Yet to lose the memory of these railroads would indeed be tragic. 3


For the rail enthusiast, for the historian, and for a public which should never lose touch with those elements that brought us to where we are today, the importance of the role played by Colorado's railroads must not be forgotten. Yet, who keeps that history, and what motivates them to do so? Preserving our railroad heritage has become a joint effort on the part of two diverse groups of historians. The first group is made up of the professionals whose body of work has examined the economic and social roles played by the railroads during Colorado's boom and bust cycles. For many of these historians, railroads are of interest primarily for the part they played in support of other activities, such as mining or town building. For others, the railroads themselves are the of Western history. Historians such as Lucius Beebe have studied narrow gauge railroading in general, while others have focused on individual railroads. Robert G. Athearn, for example, wrote what might be the definitive work on the Denver & Rio Grande in his book There is, however, an even larger group of amateur historians whose passion for railroads has made them a major force in keeping the historical record as well as 4


preserving the physical artifacts of that vital part of Colorado history. Without their efforts, much of that heritage would have been lost. These amateur historians and preservationists and the role they have played is the focus of this study. It is a study of who they are, what they have been able to accomplish, and the joys and passions which motivate them. The paper will begin with a look at what might well be regarded as the heart of railroad preservation and history in the state of Colorado --the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, with an emphasis on the man who made that museum possible, Robert Richardson. The second chapter looks at the efforts of William Kazel to save the roundhouse at Como. Although not a serious railroad enthusiast, Bill Kazel heard the call of preservation and launched a one-man crusade to bring a remarkable example of railroad/industrial architecture back from the verge of collapse. The third chapter enters the world of an unheralded group of amateur historians whose research has a very personal purpose --model railroaders. While pursuing their hobby, these rail enthusiasts have added new knowledge to the study of railroad history. At the same time, their craft creates kinetic sculptures of a time 5


which might otherwise survive only in black and white photographs. Finally, the study concludes with an essay on the sometimes conflicting roles of amateur and professional historians. While the mainfocus is railroad history, the essay examines a wider debate which cuts across the entire field of historical inquiry. Is there, and should there be, hostility between two groups who are striving to reach the same goal --the keeping of history? This paper is, therefore, not intended as a study of railroad history, but rather a consideration of the unique individuals who are preserving that history. It is not the purpose here to lionize these people. The fact is, what they do is done for the most selfish of all reasons --they love doing it. Many of them would balk at the labels "preservationist" or "historian", but none would hesitate to acknowledge their expertise or the considerable time and energy they give in their pursuit of Colorado railroading and its history. In the end, they would undoubtedly admit that anything worth loving is worth loving well, and keeping safe. 6


CHAPTER 2 THE COLORADO RAILROAD MUSEUM "Well, it is true that if I had not been foolish enough to scrape up the money, time, and work to save a lot of 'stuff', it would not have been saved. However, we are all young and foolish at some age I guess.11 Bob Richardson (1) The man watched as a battered Denver & Rio Grande steam locomotive was being unloaded from a flatcar in Alamosa, Colorado. On the engine's cab the numbers 346 were stenciled in fading white paint. The man had a pretty good idea about the old locomotive's fate. The year was 1951, and many of the Rio Grande's aging fleet of narrow gauge steamers had already preceded to the scrap heap. The Denver & Rio Grande had built its empire on narrow gauge track through the Colorado Rockies since the 1870s; but now, as the 1950s were dawning, the railroad was abandoning its narrow gauge trackage as fast as the Interstate Commerce Commission would permit. Steam, too, was being fazed out by new diesel electric 7


locomotives. Old 346 was a dinosaur. Its time for extinction had arrived at Alamosa. Or so the man assumed; but when he said as much to a fellow standing nearby, the other man set him straight. This locomotive was not here to be scrapped. It was here to be preserved. "By that man over there," the second man said, pointing to a gentleman directing the unloading operation. The first man wept tears of relief as he went to this unknown benefactor and shook his hand. The benefactor turned out to be Bob Richardson, and he tells this story in his book to remind us that many people looked upon the passing of Colorado's mountain railroads with wistful sorrow. (2) For those who share that feeling, Bob Richardson is, indeed, a benefactor. Number 346 did not go to the scrap heap. Today its whistle can still be heard echoing off the eastern slope of North Table Mountain near Golden. Five or six times each year, coal burns in its firebox, plumes of greybrown smoke rise from its stack, and steam huffs and blows in its cylinders, while a new generation of narrow gauge locomotive fanciers ride merrily in coaches and cabooses pulled behind. The site is the Colorado 8


Railroad Museum, and the man who made it possible is Robert W. Richardson. Bob Richardson: -------------Colorado's Number One Rail Fan -----------------------------Bob Richardson was born May 21, 1910 in Rochester, Pennsylvania. Five years later, his family moved to Akron, Ohio, where Bob's love of trains began. As a youth, Bob got.a job working for a local group of homing pigeon enthusiasts who needed a boy to carry the birds to distant places for release. This required a good deal of train travel, and although young Bob's first experiences left him suffering from motion sickness to such an extent that even the smell of coal smoke made him woozy, a lifelong love affair with railroads had begun. (3) By the 1930s, Richardson's interest in trains had become more He began photographing trains in 1931, and in 1938 he helped found the Eastern Ohio Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. During this time, Richardson became an active correspondent with other people interested in railroads and stamp collecting, his other passion. This penchant for corresponding brought him into contact with such 9


noted railroad historians as Lucius Beebe, who used some of Richardson's information in his book and it became a habit that would eventually give birth to Bob's dynamic little newsletter, the "Narrow Gauge News". His hobby of railroad photography led Richardson into a few misadventures at the start of World War II, when security concerns led government officials to be highly suspicious of anyone taking pictures of the nation's rail lines. After being drafted, he was shipped to Iran in 1942 to serve in the Army Signal Corps. This kept him close to the railroads, so he was able to spend off hours taking pictures of trains, despite the blazing desert heat. When the war ended, Richardson went back to Seiberling Rubber Company, where he had been working when he was drafted. By this time, however, the sweet song of train whistles could no longer be ignored. Feeling that "not.all was well with Seiberling" he scouted around for a place where narrow gauge railroads were still active.(4) That place was Alamosa, Colorado. He quit Seiberling in September, 1948 and moved to Alamosa. The next year he "pooled funds" with fellow Ohioan Carl Helfin and built the first new motel in 10


Alamosa since the 1930s. (5) The Narrow Gauge Motel was conveniently located across Highway 285 from the Rio Grande's narrow gauge mainline to Antonito. Many railfans came to Alamosa,-drawn as Richardson had been drawn by the lure of the rapidly disappearing narrow gauge lines that radiated out from this hub town of Colorado's dusty San Luis Valley. Now they had a place to stay with a kindred spirit who loved to talk railroading. The communication did not end when they left Alamosa, and Bob Richardson found himself writing to dozens of enthusiasts who hungered for news about the latest abandonment by the Denver & Rio Grande or the Rio Grande Southern. To save time, Richardson began running off a newsletter to anyone who would send a self-addressed, stamped envelope. The first issue of the Narrow Gauge News was run off on a mimeograph machine in June, 1949, with the advice that further issues would be sent "as material, inclination and the spare time permit." (6) This first issue discussed the closing of the D&RGW line through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, filming of a movie called "Colorado Territory", and the Rio Grande Southern's winter woes, among other tidbits of news. It was the first of seventy-nine issues that would continue 11


through February, 1958. During this time Bob Richardson earned the respect of railroad and history fans around the country, and the enmity of many railroad officials whose ire he peeked with his unremitting war to halt abandonments. Richardson won a few battles. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad owe their survival, in part, to his efforts. The war, however, could only be lost. Narrow gauge railroads had seen their day, and the time for their passing had come. The Narrow Gauge News reported the abandonment of mile after mile of Colorado lines throughout the 1950s. Battles for historic preservation, however, are not won along a broad front, but in selective victories that target a few, key objectives. A few lines here and there was the best Bob Richardson could have hoped for, and those lines continued to preserve the spirit and flavor of narrow gauge steam. Yet there was another avenue of preservation to be pursued. As the railroads shut down narrow gauge lines, they left behind tons of equipment and documents as a record of the pivotal role they had played in Colorado's history. If this material could be saved, that history would never die. 12


Bob Richardson did not set out with such lofty goals, but his Narrow Gauge Motel gradually became the site of a railroad museum that would preserve more of Colorado's railroad history than any other place in the state. Tpat collection began with locomotive 346;. bu:t the arrival of that locomotive in Alamosa and the tears of joy it brought to the eyes of a long-ago railfan, did not come about without a measure of blood and sweat on the part of Bob Richardson. Of the dozens of locomotives and cars on display at the Colorado Railroad Museum today, some were bought, some were donated, others are on permanent loan from a variety of railroad clubs and organizations. None of them have a more colorful story behind their acquisition than the first piece, Number 346. Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in 1881, the little engine is the oldest operating narrow gauge steamer in Colorado. Serving as #406 on the Denver & Rio Grande, it was renumbered 346 in 1924, and sold to the Montezuma Lumber Company in 1947. (7) Sources disagree on the year in which Bob 13


Richardson bought the locomotive. magazine gives the year 1949 as the purchase date (8), while (a magazine published by Lehmann Gross Bahn of Germany) claims that Bob bought it "from the scrappers in Durango" in 1951 (9). Richardson himself says that the locomotive was bought in 1950 and brought to Alamosa for display in 1951 (10). This writer could find no written documentation of the sale or transfer of the locomotive, but it seems difficult to argue with a source as reliable as Richardson himself. As Bob Richardson explains it, #346 looked so forlorn as it sat on its siding, overgrown witp weeds and awaiting the scrappers' torch, that when the scrap dealer offered to sell the locomotive for $800, he couldn't pass it up. As it turned out, the dealer made a $750 profit, since the engine would have netted only fifty dollars at the steel mill in Pueblo. (11) For Bob Richardson, the sale was only the beginning of the 346 saga. The locomotive was moved from its spur in Dolores (not Durango, as stated in the 1GB to Durango by the Rio Grande Southern. Getting it from Durango to Alamosa proved more daunting. Alfred E. Perlman, president of the Denver & Rio Grande, refused to ship 14


the locomotive on one of his railroad's flatcars because such a consignment would be construed as generating revenue, and he was currently trying to convince the ICC that the Durango to Alamosa line should be abandoned as a non-revenue right-of-way. Through friends in the railroad industry (including a disgruntled D&RGW employee) and the courts, Bob Richardson was able to pressure Perlman into shipping #346 to Alamosa for $1.79 per mile. (12) This incident, along with Richardson's sniping in the pages of the Narrow Gauge News, made him a bitter enemy of Perlman. "'Perlman and his bunch were arrogant', he says. 'They treated the public and their own employees like minions and serfs. If they didn't get their way they were like a spoiled brat that's just been spanked. ( 13) Perlman would even the score later. When he learned that Bob Richardson was attempting to buy locomotive #361, the last surviving D&RG Class C-21 locomotive, he ordered it scrapped, just days before Richardson could save it. (14) For the most part, however, the Colorado Railroad Museum has enjoyed a cordial relationship with the railroads, and owes much of its collection to their support over the years. Of the more than sixty pieces of motive power and rolling stock on display, several 15


were donated at no cost. Railroads large and small have added to the museum's collection over the years. Colorado & Southern, in its final years before merging into the Burlington Northern system, donated several standard gauge cars, including caboose #10606 and Railway Post Office Car #254, which offers an excellent example of the role played by Colorado railroads in moving the mail prior to World War II. (15) Burlington continued to be a supporter of the museum after the merger, and helped acquire an Adolph Coors refrigerator car that was displayed on a site visible from Highway 58 until that highway was moved in the early 1970s. (16) Small railroads, too, have been willing to provide the museum with equipment for display. The Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway donated one of its unique cog steam locomotives in 1968. (17) Even the Denver & Rio Grande Western, under new president George B. Aydelott, found some narrow gauge freight cars it was willing to donate in response to a request by the museum. (18) While the railroads often have been supportive of the museum, like any business they look first to the bottom line of the ledger sheet before making donations. Businesses have a tendency to overlook their place in history, even those whose role has been as dramatic as 16


the railroads in Colorado. As Charles Albi, Executive Director of the Colorado Railroad Museum puts it: "Railroads have been uninterested in their history, but now that they're coming back into the mainstream, that's beginning to reverse. The Union Pacific has been a big exception. They've always been highly conscious of their image in the publi_c eye." (19) Even Union Pacific, which has donated a locomotive and two cars, has turned the museum down when financial needs dictated that it do so. When William Jones, who was then president of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, the governing entity of the museum, asked the U.P. if it would donate locomotive #833, the railroad turned him down. Railroad president E.H. Bailey told Jones that 833 was being used to provide spare parts for locomotive #8444. The latter is an operating steamer the railroad uses to pull excursion trains, and the public relations value it provided overrode any sense of history. As is so often the case, the bottom line won. (20) Despite the many donations that railroads have made, most of the museum's collection has been acquired through purchases rather than gifts. Usually the price of a piece of equipment is determined by its value in scrap metal. Whether, donated or bought, an artifact's 17


cost to the museum only begins with the acquisition. Moving the piece onto the museum grounds can be more expensive than the original cost. The largest piece of equipment on display is a huge Chicago, Burlington & Quincy locomotive, #5629, which is owned by the Inter-mountain Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society, and is on permanent loan to the museum. While it cost the museum nothing, getting this massive locomotive onto its display track required the building of a bridge and closing a highway. In 1963, the short move from the nearby Burlington tracks to its display site cost the museum $12,000. (21) Late in 1996, the museum negotiated with the Southern Pacific Railroad for the donation of Rio Grande diesel locomotive #5771. The Denver & Rio Grande Western, which was absorbed by the Southern Pacific system in 1995, operated the F-9 cab unit on the point of the famous California Zephyr, and its successor, the Rio Grande Zephyr until that passenger train was discontinued in 1983. The museum was able to acquire #5771 and one ''B" unit after the final merger of the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads in September of 1996. Once again, the cost of moving and restoring these pieces, which have been ravaged by the 18


elements for more than a decade, has been a factor in determining how soon they can be put on display.(22) As of this writing, both units are being stored on tracks owned by the Adolph Coors Company. The restoration will probably be carried out by volunteers, as has been the case for much of the work done on other pieces at the museum over the years. Once on display, #5771 will help fill a need for post-war equipment at the museum, which has focused on Colorado's narrow gauge steam tradition. Along with the railroads themselves, other private corporations and historical organizations have been a source of the museum's ever-growing collection. Rolling stock is often owned by a specific company and hauled by the railroads for a fee. General American Transportation Corporation (GATX) operates a large fleet of tank cars, and in 1971 it donated a 10,855 gallon car. (23) Preservation organizations like the National Railroad Historical Society have put on display at the museum such equipment as CB&Q.locomotive 5629. The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club owns the little fleet of electric, inter-urban trolley cars and several of the passenger cars that can be seen at the museum. The State Historical Society provided locomotive #491, the largest class of narrow gauge locomotive on display at 19


the museum. Through purchases and donations, the museum's collection has become the largest display of railroad equipment in Colorado, and attracts thousands of visitors each year. What began with little locomotive 346 now sprawls across fifteen acres near Golden, but the road to that success was not always smooth. The Colorado Railroad Museum came to Golden in 1959 and has enjoyed a growing popularity ever since. The move from Alamosa to Golden came about as the result of a happy affiliation between railroad preservationist Bob Richardson and a Cincinnati, Ohio rail buff by the name of Cornelius Hauck. It is a friendship that has lasted to this day, but which began rather gruffly. In 1953, Hauck was one of the many people receiving the Narrow Gauge News. Having taken an interest in a certain Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad class C-18 locomotive, he wrote to Richardson asking, "Why don't you save old #318?" (24) Richardson, weary from incessant suggestions regarding rolling stock that had to be saved, fired back a terse reply suggesting Hauck 20


save it himself. As it turned out, Hauck had the money to do just that. Number 318 was saved, and a partnership that would span four decades was begun. By 1958, it was clear that the time had come to move on. Narrow gauge railroads had all but disappeared in southern Colorado, and the motel business Bob Richardson had begun a decade earlier had given way to the museum business that had grow up beside it. That museum had outgrown its home and needed a larger setting. The team of Richardson and Hauck now proved its worth. As Charles Albi puts it: "It was Bob's skill and time, and Corney's money that started the museum. An ideal team." (25) One early consideration for a new museum site was Como, rich with narrow gauge history and complete with a depot and roundhouse (26); but Richardson and Hauck wisely chose a location closer to a population center. The new museum needed to be near Denver, so a fifteen acre plot of farmland near Golden was selected. Close enough to Denver to draw visitors and settled near the old right-of-way of the Colorado Central narrow gauge, the site was exactly what the two partners needed. The collection was shipped to Golden. Locomotives came by railroad flatcar; rolling stock came by truck. A new building was erected, modeled on a turn-of-the-century 21


station, and the Colorado Railroad Museum opened on its present site in July, 1959. Cornelius Hauck continued to live in Cincinnati but remained active in the museum's affairs, offering his input through a steady flow of correspondence. Bob Richardson moved into the brick farmhouse on the museum grounds, where he would live for more than thirty years in the company of several generations of cats. The house was his residence, but the museum was his home. Through three decades as Executive Director, Richardson ran the museum with a passion anddevotion that could grow white hot when battle was joined. The "Arniell Affair" --------------------To the casual observer, museums appear to be quiet, studious places where people go about their affairs with a mutual respect for the antiquities they endeavor to preserve; but territorial jealousy and mistrust are sometimes as much a part of this seemingly cloistered world as they are in the jungles of private enterprise. When, in the late i960s, plans were being made for a transportation museum near downtown Denver, the Colorado Railroad Museum found itself embroiled in controversy. 22


At the center of this affair was a supporter of the new museum, a respected Denver surgeon and rail buff who had earned local fame as the owner of the palatial 1880 business car used in the film "Cat Ballou." His name was Dr. James Rae Arniell. Arniell's plan was to establish a transportation museum near the South Platte River, with the old Denver Tramway powerhouse building as a proposed home. The .museum's offerings would be centered on an antique car collection owned by Fort Collins industrialist J.D. Forney. Because it was a "transportation" rather than a "railroad" museum, the proposed facility presented no real threat to attendance at the Colorado Railroad Museum. What raised Bob Richardson's hackles were statements made by Arniell during the summer of 1967 in which he claimed part of the Railroad Museum's collection was to be relocated to his new museum. Bob Richardson, who could be as protective of the Railroad Museum as a mother bear watching over her cub, reacted to Arniell's claims with alarm. Cornelius Hauck was almost as concerned about Richardson's reaction as he was the statements being made by Arniell. (27) Hauck, the cooler-headed member of the partnership, wrote a carefully worded letter to Arneill, suggesting 23


that it would "be helpful ... if you would refrain from representing in any way that our Museum is to or will move now or in the future to the Tramway building or any other site within Colorado." (28) If the "Arniell affair" were simply a matter of professional jealousy, Cornelius Hauck might have let it go, but in a letter to the Foundation's Board of Trustees, he later expressed concern that it had sapped financial support from the community. (29) Furthermore, the transportation museum people seemed to be allying themselves with groups which had traditionally been supporters of the Railroad Museum. Hauck suspected that members of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, which was angry with the Railroad Museum over a_quarrel regarding operation of their trolleys there, might be looking for a connection with the Tramway project. Those concerns were not without justification. Ed Gerlits, a member of the Railroad Club's Board of Directors had suggested to Board President Jim Ehernberger that "maybe Arniell could offer us a better deal at the [transportation] museum with more operating potential." (30) To further complicate matters, it was about this time that the State Historical Society was involved in a plan to rebuild and operate the old Georgetown Loop 24


railroad between Georgetown and Silver Plume. Bob Richardson eyed this plan as a direct threat to the Railroad Museum's prestige and attendance. On September 14, 1967, Richardson wrote to Hauck saying that the announcement of the Georgetown Loop project "has the effect of shooting us down somewhat on contributions and membership."(31) He went on to suggest that information regarding a pair of Shay locomotives the museum had located in Mexico be kept from the Historical Society. Better the locomotives should end up in California than be used on the Georgetown Loop, he said, adding that "there's just been too much of our sincerity being used against us in the past." Hauck responded with the calm political savvy that marked so many of h_is letters. While Bob Richardson was the heart of the Railroad Museum, Cornelius Hauck often functioned as the brains. He wrote Richardson that the State Historical Society had "given every evidence of being friendly towards us and it is up to us to make sure it STAYS that way." (32) He went on to add that the Historical Society is "our one best line of defense against an Arniell-RMRRC [Rocky Mountain Railroad Club] combination in case some new museum scheme does gain a foothold." Two weeks later, Hauck wrote again to 25


confirm his fears about a breech between the Railroad Museum and the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. He said that he would write to them "as diplomatic and helpful a reply" as possible, in order to "reduce animosities and open the door for eventual better relations." (33) On October 11, the South Platte Area Redevelopment Council met to discuss the feasibility of the planned. transportation museum. Bob Richardson attended the meeting where he announced that the Railroad Museum had no intention of moving to the South Platte location, which, he added, seemed a poor choice of neighborhood for such a venture. He later recounted his remarks to Hauck, writing that he had made it clear that he: ... resented the attitude of some people, who had never done anything anywhere at any time to save, preserve or rebuild any historic items, to look on our museum as a kind of store or supply house from whose exhibits they might obtain what they wish for their johnny-come-lately schemes and promotions." (34) The museum headed off rumors of an impending move to the Platte River location with a public denial of such plans in the media on November 5. Among the reasons given for rejecting such a proposal was the natural beauty of their Golden site, as opposed to the "depressed area ... along the Platte." (35) On December 10, ran an article 26


announcing Arneill's plans for the proposed museum. The article quoted Arneill as saying, "Denver needs this transportation museum so new generations can know what steam transportation was like." (36) Among the exhibits at the new museum would be Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad locomotive #20, owned by Dr. Arneill. Cornelius Hauck promptly fired off a letter to the Post. He resented the implication that the transportation museum was the only source of railroading history in the Denver area, reminding the editor that "one of the country's leading rail history museums" already existed in Golden. (37) Furthermore, he pointed out, locomotive #20 was the property of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, and would continue to be on display at the Colorado Railroad Museum. (Considering the shaky relationship between the Museum and the Railroad Club, Hauck was going out on a limb regarding the permanence of the display of # 20, but the locomotive is still there.) Finally, he reminded the editor that Lowell Thomas had listed the Colorado Railroad Museum among the top 125 science oriented museums in the United States in an article written for magazine. The new transportation museum was not mentioned. Hauck clearly considered it a valid 27


point, even though the Platte River museum did not exist at the time the article was written. When the rumors concerning a move to the Platte Valley continued to circulate, Hauck wrote a letter to all the media in the Denver area, asking them to refrain from publicizing such ''ill-founded rumor and inaccurate reports." (38) By the summer of 1968, the controversy was beginning to lose steam, possibly because of a marked lack of interest in the media. Legal action was considered by the Railroad Museum, but Richardson said that they had "not wished to waste time and effort in going to court". (39) Rather than treat the new museum as a threat, Hauck and Richardson seemed increasingly disposed to view it with mild amusement. In a letter to Gov, John Love, Hauck wrote about the transportation museum: .. we presume it wi 11 be a s'emi-commercial attraction on the order of a wax museum in Denver. The part that railroad historical material will play apparently will be rather modest, if not superficial, under present plans." (40) When the president of the Colorado Transportation Museum, Walter Hellmich, appeared as a guest on a local radio talk show, Bob Richardson observed that the other guests were a "judge and a head shrinker", and that Hellmich's comments were often funny. (41) Richardson's 28


fears of a year earlier had clearly mellowed. In the end, the Forney Transportation Museum settled quietly into its niche, and the Railroad Museum continued to operate with no discernible loss of attendance. The "Arniell affair" proved to be far more smoke than fire, but it exemplified both the volatility of the supposedly staid museum business, and the way the complimentary personalities of Cornelius Hauck and Bob Richardson helped the Colorado Railroad Museum to succeed. In 1966, Richardson and Hauck decided to transfer ownership of the collection to a not-for-profit foundation for legal and tax protection. On April 1, 1967, the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation "assumed operation of the museum on a lease agreement." (42) Actual ownership of the museum's assets was sold to the foundation in January, 1976 for $300,000. (43) Established as a 501(c)(3) organization, the Foundation operates the museum on a not-for-profit basis. While the day-to-day operations of the museum are handled by the Executive Director, much of the business is conducted by 29


the Foundation's twelve-member Board of Trustees. Much of the museum's success is directly related to the make-up .of the Board of Trustees. While turnover takes place, membership on the Board has remained fairly stable over the years, creating the kind of continuity that is needed for a museum to survive. Furthermore, board members are drawn from a variety of individual skills, each of which contributes to the Foundation's success. Charles Albi explains: "The problem with any of these boards is finding qualified people with the time to serve on the board. And we've always been lucky that we've been able to do that. An interest in railroads or history is a prerequisite, and we've always tried to have people on our board who have a certain discipline or skill. We have an attorney, we have a CPA, we have somebody who's a financial advisor, we have historians, we have librarians, we have mechanical people, we have railroad people. You look at our board and ask what all these people have in common, and it's an interest in railroad history." ( 44) Albi stresses the fact that a museum is a business, and even a non-profit organization such as the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation must conduct its operations in a businesslike fashion. Although it exists to serve a. public need for railroad preservation, rather than to make a profit for owners or stockholders, the museum functions within the same set of realities that confront any business. Overhead and expenses 30


associated with daily operations must be paid, and that means revenues must be raised. Sales provide the museum with its largest source of income, generated from books and souvenirs offered. either by mail order or directly at the museum's gift shop. Many of the books are published by the museum .itself, and the Annual series has become one of the finest collections of Colorado railroad history books available. This sales income is supplemented by admission fees to the museum, membership dues, and the often generous donations from museum members. Railroad Preservation ---------------------As stated by Charles Albi, the mission of the Colorado Railroad Museum is "to acquire, preserve and interpret for the general public the history of Colorado Railroads." (45) This mission statement says a great deal about what the museum has become over its four decades in Golden. The "general public" sees a fifteen-acre site filled with track, locomotives, and rolling stock. It sees an incredible variety in size and function, from gigantic #5629 to the diminutive Manitou & Pikes Peak 31


cog locomotive; from the sturdy to the unusual Galloping Geese motor cars. Much of what the public sees has been immaculately restored, and much needs further restoration. Inside the museum building, the public sees a display of railroading artifacts from lanterns and oil cans to schedules and dining car menus. Most of the collection is interpreted through signs, but for many visitors it is the fun of seeing big trains that brings them in, with historical significance taking a poor second. Charles Albi estimates that about of the museum's visitors are neither railroad nor history buffs, but simply people interested in seeing the trains. For these people, it is enough that the equipment has been preserved, and that's just fine with Albi. As long as people keep coming, the lure of railroading will stay alive, and youngsters who never saw a train before can discover something special as they climb up into the cab of a century-old steamer and ring the big, brass bell. If the Railroad Museum was only this kind of tourist attraction, its contribution would be enough. For the railfan, the museum takes on extra meaning. Charles Albi points out that a love of trains has often 32


branded an individual as some kind of nut. "Back in the thirties and forties, people who were interested in railroads were considered a little odd," he says. (46) If the public thought railfans a little peculiar, railroaders considered them a damned nuisance; but Bob Richardson once observed in a letter to Cornelius Hauck that serious railroaders had no right to look down their noses at amateur railfans. "When it comes to 'nuts' railroad's staff can furnish a bigger percentage than railfans." (47) Today, a renewed interest in history is making the railfan more acceptable, and as far as the Railroad Museum is concerned, they are indispensable. Most of the restoration there is done by volunteers who give their time for no other reason but the joy of being hands-on with train. A special group of museum patrons are children. For as long as it has existed, the Railroad Museum has cultivated an interest in trains for those too young to have experienced them any other way. Children are encouraged to climb aboard the equipment (where it is safe to do so), and experience not only the sight of railroading but the feel and smell of it as well. The museum has encouraged school districts to take advantage 33


of the learning opportunities available there, either through field trips or slide presentations. (48) In fact, the museum offers such presentations to young and old alike, and is presently conducting credit courses on the history of Colorado railroading at the School of Mines. (49) Whilecasual visitors and most railfans enjoy the collection of equipment displayed on the grounds around the museum, they are usually unaware that many of the boxcars contain a hidden treasure. Tons of papers documents and correspondence --that were to be discarded by the railroads, are stored there, waiting to be sorted and catalogued. For the serious historian, the Railroad Museum is a gold mine of information. Of all the things Bob Richardson had the wisdom to preserve, this may be his greatest long-term contribution to the history of Colorado railroading. Railroads, and the people whose lives they touched, generate huge amounts of paper, and what the railroads were quick to discard, Bob Richardson was just as quick to salvage. Timetables, repair schedules, pay sheets, bills of lading --all the incredible minutia of the day-to-day of a railroad, together with the letters and the journals of the people who made the 34


whole thing run, tell the story of life on the Colorado high iron. These were the things Bob Richardson recovered, sometimes scooping up whole carloads with a front-end loader, to be stored away in one of the museum's freight cars until volunteers can find the time to sort through and catalogue this mountain of information. Thanks to people like archivist Kenton Forrest, much of this material has been sorted and filed away in the museum's basement; but in addition to the need for volunteer assistance, an acute shortage. of storage space has, until recently, progress in organizing the tons of paper Bob Richardson collected. On April 11, 1997, the museum officially opened its new library, appropriately named the Robert W. Richardson Library. When the collection is moved in sometime in July, 1997, it will offer researchers a comfortable, well-organized facility in which to perpetuate the history of Colorado railroading. In many ways, this library represents much ofwhat the museum is and has been. Like the museum itself, the $1.2 million structure was financed with private donations, not government subsidy. Charles Albi points with pride and satisfaction at the museum's self-sufficiency, noting that government money has two distinct drawbacks: it 35


always comes with strings attached, and when cutbacks begin, museums are usually the first to take a hit. (50) Financing for the library has been a tremendous success story. Longtime board member Alexis McKinney donated a hundred acres of land that was sold for $150,000 (51), while an additional $200,000 came from various member donations. An aggressive grant-writing campaign has als-o paid dividends. In some cases, donations came in the form of service, most notably from Richard L. Dorman, a Santa Fe, N.M. architect and rail buff who, for no charge, designed the building to look like an 1880s masonry depot. Larger museums with greater resources would be proud of such a success; for a small railroad museum it indicates both excellent management and a new acceptance of railroading as a legitimate area of historic inquiry. With the library complete, the huge task of sifting through and cataloguing the material can begin in earnest. Once this is completed, the museum will be able to claim a primary source collection second-to-none in the state. This will be in addition to an already fine collection of books and magazines dealing with railroads all around the country, as well as Colorado. Eventually everything will be on line with other fine collections 36


such as those at Denver Public Library's Western History Department and the State Historical Society. While the new library will provide access to a wealth of research the museum has made plans to build a new restoration building on the site of the old Iron Horse Motel. The Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation recently resumed ownership of the motel after several years of private operation. During that time, the motel earned something of a seedy reputation, and visits from the local sheriff's office were not uncommon. {52) The museum now plans to demolish the motel and build a turntable and a small roundhouse in which equipment can be serviced safe from the elements. As important as the library is to researchers, the Trustees understand that it will always be the equipment that attracts visitors and supports the museum. In truth, the equipment was always Bob Richardson's first love. The Colorado Railroad Museum might easily have become a simple tourist attraction like an alligator farm or Santa's Village, drawing its clientele with billboard advertising. Instead, it began and remained a 37


place where Colorado's rail history was faithfully and lovingly preserved. Equipment like :/t346 were never turned into kiddie rides, but when they run they run as they did when they were still generating revenue for some long-extinct mountain railroad. The museum is a true museum, capturing history and keeping it alive for researchers and the general public alike. Two men, Robert Richardson and Cornelius Hauck, made this possible. It proved to be a most fortunate alliance. Bob Richardson is hailed by many as Colorado's premier railroad preservationist. magazine writes of him that he is "a sincere gentleman" who is "called 'Uncle Bob' by the many museum volunteers who have been privileged to grow up in his shadow." (53) Bob Richardson, -did indeed, cast a long shadow during his four decades as the museum's director, and his single-minded determination played a major role in keeping the museum running. Such determination is essential to the success of ventures like the Railroad Museum, but they can often lead to difficulties as well. Problems like the Arniell affair of the 1960s were as much the result of Richardson's proprietorial attitude toward the museum as any real threat to its security. 38


Ed Gerlits of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club considered Richardson a "high public relations risk" who was "always trying to run down someone elses operation." (54) He said that Richardson would never give anyone else "credit for trying to build or operate a [railroad]". Many successful enterprises begin with one person's vision; and to succeed, that vision must often be myopic. After a certain point, however, such single-mindedness can become a liability, and a more diplomatic touch is needed. Cornelius Hauck provided the quiet, political voice needed to leaven Bob Richardson's often fiery approach to running the museum. As in the case of the Transportation Museum controversy, Hauck was able to deal with Arniell, the media, and Bob Richardson until the whole affair blew over, as Hauck probably suspected that it would. In 1991, Bob Richardson retired to Pennsylvania, and although he continues to keep in touch, he has divested himself of all operational authority at the Railroad Museum. Cornelius Hauck, too, is retired and living comfortably in Cincinnati. The Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation is still under the guidance of its Board of Trustees, while operation at the Railroad 39


Museum today is in the able hands of Bob Richardson's successor, Charles Albi. The museum today is able to continue to fulfill its mission of preserving and interpreting Colorado's rich railroad history because of a vision. Bob Richardson provided that vision. Cornelius Hauck and Charles Albi were able to see it. 40


CHAPTER 3 MILEPOST 88.3: THE COMO ROUNDHOUSE When I recall the old South Park, there's a pain down near my heart As I think of each man (most, passed on) and the road all torn apart from "Como, on the D.L.& G." by Charles C. Squires (1) Highway 285 threads its way southwest from Denver, meeting the North Fork of the South Platte River at Bailey, and crossing the Front Range over Kenosha Pass. As the highway drops down on the west slope of the pass, a wide expanse of land opens ahead. This is South Park, one of the high mountain valleys that nestle among the towering ranges of the Colorado Rockies. Once down off the pass, 285 straightens out as it races, unimpeded across the relatively flat stretch of dry sagebrush-covered valley toward Fairplay, county seat of Park County. Ten miles before reaching Fairplay, the highway skirts within a mile of a cluster of frame houses that huddle together on a treeless rise between the highway and the mountains beyond. A road sign 41


identifies an approaching turnoff as the route over Boreas Pass to Breckenridge, and the cluster of homes as the town of Como. Seen from the highway, a single structure dominates Como like the castle of some long-dead medieval baron. With its heavy, stone walls and six massive wooden doors, it looks incongruous among the clutch of single-story dwellings that make up most of the town. The highway that cuts through Como to Breckenridge passes directly behind this imposing building. A barbed wire fence surrounds it, and a sign on the gate identifies it as the "Como Roundhouse". It is one of the last survivors of a time when this quiet little town served as a major rail center high in the Rockies. As you stand outside the roundhouse now, it seems hard to imagine a time when Como was a busy community of railroad workers and their families. Where the air was once alive with the sound of steam whistles, pistons, and wheels clanking on iron rails, now there is only the wind. Wind is the dominant weather feature in South Park, and it was one of the reasons Como was considered a hardship assignment for the railroad families living here. The other was snow. Snowfall in South Park isn't heavy, but when it falls 42


it falls at a sharp angle, driven by winds that howl down from the surrounding peaks. The wind drifts the snow so high that it closes off the sides of buildings on the windward side and turns each flake into a tooth of ice that bites at flesh, wood, and even stone. A close examination of the roundhouse's walls reveal the tooth marks left by decades of South Park snow falls. If left unrepaired, even those stone walls will decay away, leaving nothing from a time when a web of rails joined Colorado cities along the Front Range with mining towns high in the mountains. This is the story of that roundhouse --how it came to be built, and how one man and his son have worked to preserve this irreplaceable part of Colorado's past. The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad In 1869, a golden spike driven at Promontory Point, Utah heralded the completion of the nation's Transcontinental Railroad. For most of America, it was the fulfillment of a dream that began in the 1850s, before the Civil War put all other concerns on hold. For Colorado, however, the dream had become a nightmare. The state had been by-passed by the 43


railroad, in favor of a less tortuous route through Wyoming. Knowing that a town's survival might very well depend on its rail connections, eastern wags announced that "Denver is too dead to bury" when the Wyoming route was selected. Denver, however, was not ready to die. A group of entrepreneurs raised the necessary capital and built their own railroad, the Denver Pacific, linking Denver to the transcontinental line at Cheyenne. With that coup, Colorado railroading was born; but as important to the survival of Denver as the Denver Pacific would turn out to be, it was not representative of the kind of railroad for which Colorado would be best known. That distinction would belong to William Jackson Palmer's Denver & Rio Grande, the most celebrated narrow gauge railroad to run track through Colorado. Like most American railroads, the Denver Pacific operated on standard gauge track. A track's gauge is the distance between the rails, and standard gauge is 4' 8 1/2" between the centers of the rail heads. Palmer's Denver & Rio Grande was one of the first major American railroads to make use of narrow gauge, setting its rails three feet apart. Builders like Palmer were quick to appreciate the advantages of the narrower gauge 44


in mountain railroads. Trains would be smaller and lighter, requiring less support from roadbed and bridges. A could be engineered with sharper turns, making it easier to negotiate the near-vertical canyon walls and twisting river valleys that mountain railroads must follow. The success of the Denver & Rio Grande, coupled with the explosive growth of Colorado mining communities, led to the inevitable race to build new rail lines into the Rockies, even though such lines were not always well conceived. Such was the case of a quixotic little narrow gauge railroad that would, despite it's checkered history, become one of the sweethearts of Colorado railroading -The Denver, South Park & Pacific. The Denver, South Park & Pacific began life as the brainchild of former territorial governor John Evans. Evans had been one of the founders of the Denver Pacific, but like Palmer he recognized the potential for profit in building mountain railroads capable of reaching rapidly proliferating mining camps. When his first plan to build a line to the Clear Creek camps west of Golden was headed off by the rival Colorado Central, Evans formulated plans to build a line to Fairplay in South Park. This railroad, organized as the 45


Denver, South Park and Pacific Railway Company in 1872, would change its focus several times as new mineral strikes redirected attention around the Colorado high country. The "Pacific" suggested dreams of eventually laying track all the way to the west coast. "It was an ambitious scheme for a railroad which had not yet been able to financepurchase of a rail." (2) To reach South Park from Denver, Evans settled on a route that followed the North Fork of the South Platte River, then crossed Kenosha Pass. (Highway 285 from Bailey roughly follows this route, but little evidence of the railroad remains.) By the time the railroad reached Bailey, a new destination had become the focus of Evans' attention. Silver strikes near Leadville during the 1870s not only caused that little community to boom, but attracted the interest of several railroad builders, among them William Jackson Palmer of the D&RG and John Evans of the DSP&P. Palmer envisioned a route up the Arkansas River --a plan temporarily delayed by his famous Royal Gorge War with the Santa Fe Railroad. Evans planned a route through South Park. His determination to reach Leadville would play a major part in the growth of Como as a division point on the DSP&P. 46


The railroad reached the spot that would become Como on June 21, 1879. From this point there were two possible routes to Leadville. The first was southwest across South Park, over Trout Creek Pass to the Arkansas River, then north along the river to Leadville. This became the primary route after an agreement was reached with the D&RG to share trackage from Buena Vista north. A second, more direct route, from Como over the Park Range to Breckenridge, then over Fremont Pass from Breckenridge to Leadville gained popularity as relations between the DSP&P and the D&RG became increasingly strained in the early 1880s. Surveying was begun over Hoosier Pass in August, 1880, and a branch line was run as far as Fairplay. The line that would eventually reach Breckenridge, however, branched off the main line near Como in 1880 as the Lechner Mine Branch, with two miles of track completed by November. The Breckenridge route, which would climb over Boreas Pass, was begun under John Evans, but was completed in 1882 by the Union Pacific. Evans had sold his railroad to the UP shortly after the Breckenridge branch was begun. From that point on, the name DSP&P, or more simply South Park, would refer not to a railroad, but to a division of subsequent railroads. 47


After the western-most branch of the railroad reached Gunnison by way of the ill-conceived Alpine Tunnel that pierced the Continental Divide at 11,600 feet above sea level, the railroad (still under UP ownership) was renamed the Denver, Leadville, and Gunnison Railway Company. The DL&G became an independent railroad in 1894, after the UP itself filed for bankruptcy. In 1899, the DL&G became a part of the new Colorado & Southern Railroad, under which it would be operated until fading from history in the 1930s. Como Becomes a Rail Center --------------------------A variety of sources yield conflicting stories about the origins of the town of Como. Colorado ------has it being "laid out in 1879, on the .site of the old Stubbs Ranch." (3) Mary Dyer speculates that is was "platted on the former McClaughlin Ranch" (4), which J"V was the property of the South Park Coal Company in 1879. Gordon Chappell agrees that the land was the property of the South Park Coal Co., but suggests that at the time the DSP&P arrived, the site might have been the town of Hamilton. ... Hamilton may have been an earlier name for Como." (5) However, an 1895 photograph in Dyer's book 48


identifies a separate town as Hamilton. (6) Whatever its origin, Como (named by Italian coal miners after Lake Como in Italy) became a stop on the DSP&P Railroad on June 27, 1879. By the end of July it had a post office, officially confirming its status as a town, and was incorporated as a city on January 18, 1883. For the first few years, it served as an important coaling point on the railroad, with coal coming from the nearby King and Lechner Mines. To reach these mines, a spur left the main line 3/4 of a mile east of Como and ran south to the King Mine, and another ran northwest from the town to the Lechner Mine. Early in August, 1880, the DSP&P ran its first train to Leadville, using Denver & Rio Grande track as part of an agreement between the two railroads, but the directors of the South Park Line had already decided to build their own route to Leadville by way of Breckenridge. The route they chose was an extension of the Lechner Mine spur out of Como, and over Boreas Pass. Completion of this route would create two operating divisions for the DSP&P. To improve control, railroads broke their areas of operations into divisions, usually .basing those designations on particular traffic patterns and 49


destinations. By 1881, the DSP&P (itself a division of the Union Pacific at that time), was made up of three main operating ''districts" --the Platte Canyon District (to Denver), the Gunnison District (to Gunnison and Baldwin), and the High Line District (over Boreas Pass to Breckenridge). At the center of these three main districts was the town of Como. The Como Roundhouse ------------------On January 1, 1881, financier Jay Gould bought control of the Denver, South Park & Pacific and added it to his Union Pacific railroad system. Always the manipulator, Gould used this maneuver to sidestep a previous agreement he had made with the Rio Grande and Santa Fe railroads, in which he had agreed not to build U.P. trackage into the Colorado Rockies. While Union Pacific management would be of dubious benefit to the DSP&P, (frequently losing customers to inflated fares) it did provide one historic addition to Como. In March, 1881, the U.P. began construction of a division roundhouse in the town. Few structures associated with steam railroading are as distinctive, or as impressive as a roundhouse. 50


The center of any major railroad yard, a large roundhouse could service more than a dozen locomotives at a time. A locomotive would approach the building on a lead track that took it out onto the turntable. Rotating the table brought the turntable track in line with one of the service tracks that radiated out toward the roundhouse doors. The pivoting turntable eliminated the need for elaborate switching systems, and also dictated the roundhouse's distinctive crescent shape. Locomotives on any 19th-century railroad required regular servicing, and the heavy demands of mountain railroading that were placed on the equipment used by the DSP&P amplified that need. Trains leaving Denver had to ascend more than 4,000 feet to reach Como, with an additional climb to 11,480 feet over Boreas Pass to Breckenridge, and an exhausting 11,600 feet to Alpine tunnel. Under the rigors of such demanding duty, locomotives spent a fair share of their time in the service bays of roundhouses at Denver and Como. Under Colorado & Southern ownership, the DSP&P also operated a six-stall wooden roundhouse at Leadville. The Leadville and Como roundhouses were strictly narrow gauge track, while the main service facility at Denver was dual gauge, able to accommodate both the standard and narrow 51


gauge equipment operated by the Colorado & Southern Railroad. Once inside the roundhouse, the locomotive could be serviced from above and below. Inspection pits cut into the floor between the tracks made it possible for mechanics to walk under the locomotive. Of the six-stalls at Como, only two had such inspection pits. The size of the Como roundhouse changed over the years, as wooden additions were added to the original stone structure, or removed either by demolition or fire. Seven wooden stalls were added in 1892 and five more in 1897. By 1904, the first four bays of the stone roundhouse had been converted to machine shops, and only stalls 5 & 6 had tracks leading to them from the turntable. The eighteen-stall wooden addition was torn down in 1919 and replaced by a three-stall wooden addition. On the evening of March 25, 1935 the wooden addition was completely destroyed by fire. The March 29, 1935 edition of the Fairplay Flume reported that the Colorado & Southern had ordered the building rebuilt, but such a replacement never took place. (7) After the fire, all six bays of the stone structure were put into locomotive service, which is how it was being used when the last train left Como on September 2, 1938. 52


As the C&S moved out, tearing up track behind it, the roundhouse was left stranded. A distinctly railroad structure with no railroad to service, it faced an uncertain future. From 1940 to 1946, it was used as a warehouse by Cooley Sand and Gravel Co. It housed Welch's saw mill in 1957 and 1958 (which filled-the turntable pit with sawdust), and did duty as a stable for horses and cattle in the 1970s. By the 1980s, much of the roundhouse was in a state of serious decay. When the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 20,1983, it was described as a ... one-story rusticated stone building" that is '' ... deteriorated and has been unmaintained for several years." However, the report goes on to say, "The building does, however, appear to be in excellent structural condition." (8) At about this same time, a similar, if less formal assessment of the building's condition was being made by a Denver-area mine contractor named Bill Kazel. Bill had been working in Buena Vista, and his commute took him past Como twice each week. The roundhouse caught his attention. "During that summer I watched a couple of the vent stacks fall down, and the cap stones were coming off the wall. I said, 'Gee, somebody ought to do something about it."' ( 9) 53


Bill did do something about it.. He bought the roundhouse on Feb. 23, 1984 for the purpose of restoration. (Bill eventually created Como Roundhouse Preservation, Inc., and transferred ownership to that corporation.) With the help of his son, Greg, Bill began restoring the building. Although Greg has moved on to other Bill has been working on the restoration ever since. Perhaps the Union Pacific over-estimated the viability of its South Park division when it built the roundhouse at Como, or maybe it was simply following proven construction techniques used elsewhere, but for whatever reason, it built the structure to last. The stone walls and wooden roof have done battle with the harsh elements of South Park for more than a hundred years, with varying degrees of success. The arches and pillars of the roundhouse were built from cut stones taken from quarries at Morrison and Boreas Pass. The walls are random laid, uncoursed field stone, much of which was collected by railroad crews along the line of the Denver, South Park & Pacific. The 54


stones were loaded into gondola cars and brought back to Como, where the masons would pick through the pile to find the stones they needed. These were then mortared together using the mortar that was the standard bonding material of the While the walls were constructed from local the roof was built using Douglas fir beams brought from out-of-state (most likely Oregon). Measuring twenty to thirty feet long, those 12" X 12" beams exceeded anything growing in Colorado. The beams were overlaid with wooden sheeting that was covered with felt, tar and gravel. (The felt might have been horse-hair felt, but the roof has been patched so often that it has become difficult to identify original material from that used in repair work.) Another distinctive roof detail were the smoke stacks that thrust up over each stall. Locomotives produced clouds of black coal smoke that required adequate venting, so every stall had at least one smoke jack. Originally, the building had metal vents at the front of each stall. In 1935, wooden vents were added to the back. Despite these efforts, dark smears of coal soot on the interior walls still bear witness to those days when the roundhouse serviced a half-dozen steam 55


locomotives at a time. The roundhouse can not, however, be examined in isolation. In its heyday, it was the centerpiece of a busy rail yard, where servicing was not limited to the roundhouse alone. Behind the stone building stood the water tower, and to the south, the coaling tower. (Neither King nor Lechner mines were adequate producers to supply the railroad's needs. As a result, coal was brought from mines in southern Colorado --and during the infamous Ludlow labor crisis of 1914, from as far away as Wyoming, which is why coal was actually more expensive in Como than Denver.) In her book, Como, former resident Eila Allen Johnson recalls coaling operations there. ... about one hundred men worked in the Round House and Railroad Shops. To me, the train whistles were very thrilling, especially at night, as well as sounds of engines putting coal up into the coal chutes. Two engines were usually required to move the cars of coal up." (10) Of the structures that once populated the Como rail yard, all that remain are a two-story frame hotel, the depot (in serious disrepair), a wooden tool shed, the stone foundations from a tenement block that once housed railroad workers, the turntable pit, and the roundhouse. Of these, the hotel still stands and operates as a hotel 56


and restaurant, and only the turntable and roundhouse have realistic chances for preservation. Bill Kazel has committed considerable time, energy, and money to ensuring the roundhouse's survival. When asked why, he said, "I like old stone buildings. It was falling down, and I figured somebody ought to do something to save it." (11) But what does it take to save a building that has been left to the mercies of more than one hundred Colorado mountain winters? The first step was to clean the place up. Once the building was abandoned by the railroad, it became a dumping ground for the businesses that followed -dredging, a saw mill, and stable. The result was forty years of trash, very little of which was railroad related. Bill Kazel tells how 11in some areas of the building the manure and sawdust and junk was three and four feet deep before we got down to the original floor ... Once the accumulated debris had been removed, the actual process of renovation could begin. The stone walls were stable, but years of unrelenting wind-driven snow had blasted out much of the mortar, leaving some areas where the decay went all the way through the wall. The process by which old mortar is chipped out and 57


replaced with new mortar is called repainting, and basically the entire wall structure required some degree of it. With walls running 62' on the sides, more than 150' along the rear, and averaging about 18' high, repainting the entire surface was a job that began in 1987 and has been continuing ever since. While work on the walls was being completed, the roof presented the greatest challenge to the success of the project. Where the walls managed to survive the assault by the elements, the roof had surrendered. It had, quite literally, caved in at several points. As Bill Kazel described it's condition in 1995: "The roof is gone. The roof is dangerous ... because if the wind blows you'll get pieces falling inside the building --sheeting and rafters and tar and gravel. [It's] a sieve. When we get the roof done we then have a semi-useful building." As is true with all the repairs completed thus far, replacing the roof took money. Much of that money came out of Bill's own pocket, but he also received aid from a variety of outside sources. Donations from private individuals and organizations helped defray some of the cost. Railroad clubs gave both money and volunteer hours toward the restoration. By far the largest source 58


of financial support came from the Colorado State Historical Society. Money from revenues raised by legalized gambling in Colorado since 1992 made it possible for the Historical Society to offer several grants to Bill. With that money he was able to replace or repair all the doors and windows in the roundhouse; but none of that mattered if the roof was not repaired, and that job would be extremely expensive. In that regard, Bill found himself in a difficult position. The Historical Society offered him a grant of approximately $87,000. However, based on bids he had received from contractors to do the work, Bill estimated the job would cost about $160,000 --or roughly twice the amount being offered by the Historical Society. If he accepted the grant, he might not receive additional funds for the roof; and having accepted the money be required to complete the job. This could have meant making up the difference out of his own pocket. But if he did not accept the grant, the money might not be available later. This is not to suggest that the Historical Society was unreasonable or unwilling to help, but simply illustrates the problems that arise when there are more projects and needs than funds available. Bill Kazel appreciates the competition his 59


roundhouse is up against and how the Historical Society must "compare it to who else wants money, what's the need of the other people, what's the requirements of the project. They've got a whole criteria list that they go through. And it's. a funds-available basis." The roof was finally completed in late 1996, and the State Historical Society paid 80% of the cost. Patience and dedication prevailed. (12) Detached from the main building, but still a part of the roundhouse, the turntable and pit present their own interesting set of problems to the restoration process. When Bill bought the property, the pit was there (filled with sawdust), but the turntable was missing. In 1990, he found a matching turntable (which in fact, be the original) at the Denver Water Board, where it was being used as a roof truss. How the Water Board came by i-t remains a mystery, but Bi 11 was able to buy it, and it now sits in the pit outside the roundhouse. Bill hopes to get it operational some day, but such projects must wait until the all-important roof work is completed. Bill has learned that he must not allow side jobs to deflect him from his primary efforts. "A long time ago I decided that ... any money time, or effort I spend is on the building. If I dilute 60


the efforts, I'll never get it done." Perhaps the most intriguing problem Bill Kazel faces is the question of what he will do with the roundhouse once the restoration is complete --and he freely admits that he is open to suggestions. His hope is not to make money, but simply to find a usethat will generate enough income to cover the costs of maintaining the building. The restoration process never really stops, any more than the weather ever really stops trying to tear the building down. Repainting and repainting are constant maintenance requirements, and a new roof does not stay new long. One use for the building, and one of the most obvious, was vetoed by the Historical Society. Bill proposed to move the entire structure to Georgetown, where it would resume its duties as a roundhouse, but for the Georgetown Loop Railroad. The structure would be photographed, dismantled stone by stone, with each stone labeled and reassembled at its new location according to the photographs. Bill said that the Historical Society objected "on the basis that we would destroy its historic significance by moving it." He decided that it wasn't worth the fight, and the roundhouse has remained on its original site. 61


This was not the first time such a move had been proposed for the building. In February, 1983, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer James E. Hartmann suggested that the roundhouse be moved to save it from further decay. He supported the idea that buildings should "remain in their historic environment unless evidence suggests that inevitable deterioration will lead to their ultimate loss." (13) He further observed that whether the roundhouse ''will be preserved on site, however, has not been established." It is evident that, in 1983, Hartmann was willing to support a move of the roundhouse if it continued to deteriorate. By the mid-1990s, the Historical Society would no longer sanction such a move. The only thing that had happened in the interim to change their position was the work done by Bill Kazel. Ironically, by restoring the building, he had made it relocation unacceptable to the Historical Society . So the problem remains--what to do with the Como roundhouse once it has been restored. Perhaps the most viable option comes from the National Forest Service, and othe agencies which have plans to make a Scenic Byway over Boreas Pass. If that happens, they have considered using the roundhouse as an interpretive 62


center and museum. Another plan proposes using the building as a tourist attraction in its own right, with the two center bay areas serving as a railroad museum, the bays flanking it as gift and art shops, and the outer bays as living quarters for the people who would work there. That would suit Bill Kazel. "Hopefully, the long,...term use for it is related to memorabilia of the railroad. Obviously, that's what its history is." (14) Whatever the future holds for the Como roundhouse, its restoration needs to be completed. This is a structure which the people of Colorado can not afford to lose. As Rebecca Herbst wrote in her Nomination Form for the National Register, the roundhouse is '' ... one of the finest late 19th Century railroad roundhouses remaining in the state, and an outstanding example of industrial architecture." (15) Aside from its inherent architectural value, the Como roundhouse is a surviving point in a network that today can only be traced through its surviving points. The narrow gauge railroads that played such an enormous role in the economic growth and settlement of Colorado, pulled up their tracks and abandoned their rights,...of,...way decades ago; but they left behind a physical map of their presence in the structures that dot the 63


countryside through which their rails once ran. We can track the path of the Denver, South Park & Pacific through the town of Jefferson on the southwest side of Kenosha Pass, where the wooden passenger station still stands. It can be followed up over Boreas Pass, where Baker water tank keeps.its lonely sentinel. We can pick it up again at the remains of Alpine Tunnel, high in the Collegiate Peaks. Tying it all together, just as it did a century ago, the roundhouse at Como still stands against the relentless ravages of the South Park1s winter winds. As long as such historic places are preserved, the vital network of which they were once a part will not be allowed to fade from memory. 64


CHAPTER 4 MODEL RAILROADERS HISTORY FOR THE FUN OF IT Al Kalmbach first published a magazine called in January, 1934. In his own words, his main reason for starting up the magazine was this: "I simply thought model railroading was a lot of fun." (1) In doing the research for this chapter I interviewed seven local model railroaders who model historical prototypes, and if one theme has echoed through those interviews, it is the theme of fun. Model railroading is, indeed, fun for these men; but, as they have discovered, so is history. Perhaps every history book should modify slogan, "Model Railroading is Fun," and add this tag line below the title: "History is Fun" A Profile of Model Railroaders ------------------------------Model railroaders often express frustration in the frequent misconceptions about what they do. For those outside the hobby, model railroading is often seen as 65


childish. Master model railroader John Robinson remembers his father saying, "Grown boys don't play with toy trains." (2) Most people think of model railroads as "electric trains", those tinny toys that were set up each December to run endless trips around the family Christmas tree, then taken down and packed away for the next eleven months. For most model railroaders it started there, with that train circling the tree Christmas morning, but the fascination was not boxed up after New Year's Day. The train migrated, often to the basement where a home was found for it on the standard 4' X 8' sheet of plywood, supported on a pair of saw horses. Tracks spread, trains grew, and mountains sprouted. It was the beginning of a life-long love affair that would expand beyond the basement, taking the model railroader into hobby shops, libraries, museums, and the actual locations where the prototype of his dream railroad operated. A hobby became a passion, and the hobbiest became a historian. For most model railroaders, that first Christmas tree train was a Lionel. Big and rugged, Lionel trains have spanned the generations, and some of their trains have become collectors' pieces valued at thousands of 66


dollars. Lionel carved its niche in the three-rail, 0 scale market that it still dominate& today. To understand model railroaders, it is necessary to understand a few of the basics of railroading and model railroading. Prototype railroads fall into two broad categories based on the track gauge they use. American railroads today, as in most of the world, operate on standard gauge track measuring 4' 8 1/2" between the centers of each rail. However, many of Colorado's mountain railroads used narrow gauge track to minimize costs and negotiate the tight curves demanded in mountain canyons. Although narrow gauge track varies, the most common dimension was 3' between the centers of the rail heads. Like the prototype, model railroads vary in gauge, but t'hey also vary in scale. While gauge refers to track width, as it does in the prototype, scale refers to size in relation to the prototype, or "the proportion of the model in comparison with the real thing." (3) The 0 scale Lionel locomotive that got most model railroaders started in the hobby was 1/48th the size of the prototype locomotive it was meant to represent. This scale is most often expressed as a ratio, or 1:48. 0 scalers often describe their scale as 1/4", referring 67


to the fact that one foot on the prototype is equal to 1/4" on their models. Each scale offers advantages and disadvantages to the modeler. The advantage of 0 scale, which is fairly large, can be found in the detailing that can be seen and the sense of mass a larger scale creates. However, 0 scale takes a proportionately greater amount of space, which restricts the size of the railroad a modeler can build. Even larger, the fairly new G scale (named for the German word gross, or "big") is 1:22.5 and often finds its home outdoors in the backyard. Conversely, the little N scale (1:160, and measuring nine millimeters between the rails, hence "N" for "nine") accommodates a huge rail empire but presents a challenge to the detail-minded modeler. At a minute ratio of 1:220, the tiny Z scale requires bifocals for proper viewing, while the moderately sized 8 scale (1:64) never developed a major following, and as a result has a somewhat limited selection of ready-made equipment. As a happy medium between the large and the small, HO scale (for "Half 0" ) combines detail within a workable size. For this reason it accounts for 71% of all model railroaders today. (4) Not surprisingly, manufacturers cater to this popular modeling scale, 68


whose ratio is 1:87. Within the popular scales are gauges designed to replicate the narrower gauges employed by the prototypes. Thus, a modeler might chose not only HO scale, but H0n3, which means he is modeling in a scale of 1:87, but the rails of his track are a scale three feet apart, like those found on a prototype narrow gauge railroad. If scale is the most important subdivision of model railroaders, then era is next. Most modelers view the chronological dividing line as the age of steam as opposed to diesel power, and the feelings are often intense, particularly from the steam fanciers. Narrow gauge steam modeler Duncan Harvey calls diesels "diseasels". (5.) Bob Boorman derisively refers to modern locomotives as "box cars with motors." (6) About of model railroaders do not specify an era. Of those who do, half model the transition era between 1940 and 1959, when both steam and first-generation diesel power could be found on most American railroads. Of those who chose a predominantly steam or diesel era, older modelers (46 and up) lean toward steam while younger modelers (under 45) prefer diesel. (7) A modeler may focus on a certain decade or even a 69


particular year as a setting for his railroad. Just how specific does choice of era get? Modeler Jack Burgess has set his Yosemite Railroad in a specific year, day, and time of day. (8) A third significant division among modelers is the choice to model a specific prototype as opposed to "free lance", in which case the modeler creates a fictitious setting with a fictitious railroad running through it. Each has its advantages and draw backs, and its advocates as well as its adversaries. Primarily because of the freedom it offers, almost 80% of all modelers surveyed by used the freelance approach in most of their modeling. (9) The prototype modelers those who attempt to recreate accurately the locomotives, rolling stock, and structures used by the real railroad they model --make up less than 25% of all model railroaders. will focus. It is on this group that this paper The seven modelers who graciously allowed themselves to be interviewed for this study share several features in common. They are all prototype modelers to one extent or another. They are all fans of Colorado narrow gauge and model it either exclusively or as a major part of their modeling efforts. Four of them 70


model in HO scale, two model in 0 scale, and one focuses on HO, but also works in 0 and N scales. More generally, most of these modelers are over forty-five years old, which puts them in the appropriate age bracket of modelers who like prototype and model earlier steam railroads, as established by the survey.(lO) They are basically middle class and represent a variety of occupations. In the case of this group,.they are all men, but women represent a growing segment of the model railroad family. Many women model along side their husbands, and many others model on their own. Most importantly, as prototype modelers of a by-gone era, these men are active railroad historians who find it necessary to research the railroads they model in order to get things right. Most have discovered that the research often becomes as fascinating a hobby as the modeling itself. Seven Modelers Who Have -----------------------loves model railroading, he loves Colorado mining, he loves narrow gauge, and he loves Shay locomotives. "In fact, I named my youngest son 71


after the founder of the Shay locomotive. And [my son] could care less about trains. kid. II He's into cars. Poor Bob is a skilled cabinet maker and modeler whose first model train was a Lionel he received at the age of three, but it was sold when he was fourteen and discovered girls. He returned to model railroading when his first on was born and has been with it ever since. Having had a grandfather who worked on narrow gauge steam, Bob comes by his fascination with the narrow gauge honestly; but his particular interest is in the Gilpin Tram, a narrow narrow gauge. The Gilpin hauled ore for the mines above Black Hawk and Central City, and operated on two-foot gauge track. As Bob puts it: "Colorado standard gauge was three foot, and anything under that was narrow gauge." Dale Evans can trace his model railroading back to a Marx wind up train. "It must have been about the Christmas of 1949 when I got my Marx," he says, sipping coffee at his kitchen table and looking back more than four decades. (11) Through those years he can see images of steam locomotives making the climb to Moffat Tunnel near Rollins where he camped, or hear them at the Burnham shops where his grandfather worked, across the 72


South Platte River from their Denver home. His father owned a cabin near Alma in South Park, which is one reason why Dale has a particular interest in the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad, whose grade he has walked many times. Walking railroad grades is, in fact, a particular specialty of Dale Evans. As a child he walked the old Morrison branch of the DSP&P, and when he was in high school in the 1950s he walked the Highline Division grade over Boreas Pass. ''The snow sheds were still more or less standing when I used to go up there he says "It's fun. I could set myself back a hundred years easily." Colorado narrow gauge is the love of as well. Of the model railroaders interviewed for this study, only Duncan has a professional background in history, being a middle school social studies teacher with Cherry Creek Schools. Yet his modeling and teaching are, for the most part, not closely connected. "I think that's two separate things. The interest in history is common. I like American history, Colorado history, and ancient European history. So there's an interest in history and researching, and the skills are transferable from one to another." When asked if his interest in model railroading and the interest it created in prototype railroad history had contributed to his interest in Colorado history 73


specifically he replied: "Yes, and the mines and the ghost towns. I have a four wheel drive and I like getting out and seeing the old towns. And the railroad grades are still there, so the two sort of dove tailed. I can go out and do ghost towning and jeeping and research for my model railroad all at the same time." .. According to his mother, has had trains in his blood since he was a toddler and motored around on a little red ride-on locomotive he could push with his feet, an engineers cap securely planted on his head. "See, you were always into trains," she tells him. (12) Curt wants to model the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad, but he and his wife are moving, so his 20' x 13' layout has been dismantled. The site of a larger railroad has already been surveyed in their new home, where the empire will cover about 600 square feet. Although he firstmodeled the Denver & Rio Grande, Curt wants the new railroad to reproduce the best features of the South Park. He is, however, prepared to make historical concessions to avoid some difficulties being too prototypical might entail. "I don't want to get into link and pin couplers," he insists. Cris Park does not blame his interest in railroads -------and railroad modeling on his wife. Like so many others, he started young with the ubiquitous Lionel at Christmas 74


time. He does, however, credit her love of "locomotives and scenery", for his recent devotion to modeling Colorado narrow gauge, and the Durango & Silverton in particular. "She was the one who instigated the Durango & Silverton train to begin with," he says, referring to a "fatal trip" they took to ride the famous tourist attraction a few years ago. (13) "On the way back we got as far as Montrose, and I kept carrying on about the Durango & Silverton. My wife said, 'You're going to change your layout, aren't you?' And I said, 'Yes.'" shares a common thread with most of the modelers I interviewed --he had an ancestor who worked for the railroads. I have come to believe that this familial connection had little to do with the subsequent interest developed by these men for railroading. It seems more likely that the railroads were such large employers in Colorado, and around the country, that the odds favor finding a railroading relative in anyone's past. In Randy's case, however, the impact might have been more immediate. Both grandfathers worked for the railroads, and one was a fireman who gave Randy an up-close look at the workings of steam locomotives. "My grandfather would take me out to the roundhouse and stand me up and open the firebox. And it would practically knock me out of the [cab]." (14) 75


Randy models the Grand Island mining district west of Boulder, around the towns of Eldora, Nederland, and Caribou. He discovered the area around 1965 when he went there to enjoy Thanksgiving at the home of his college roommate. It seemed like a natural place to model. His model railroad, the Eldora & Lost Lake is actually a cross between freelance and prototype. In a feature on his layout in the February 1997 issue of Railroader, Randy referred to his railroad as a ''road that might have been." (15) The equipment is true to C&S equipment of the time, but the railroad itself is fictitious. As with the ancient Greeks, Randy prefers parts of his history told they way it should have been. grew up with steam. "As a little kid I knew steam. I rode on it. I was around it. And I can feel for the kids who don't have any feeling for it, what it was doing, or how it was." John first discovered narrow gauge while still in high school in California. He and a friend drove to the West Side Power Company looking for work. "We drove across the tracks and I said, 'There's something wrong with that track. Back up and look at it.' About that time one of the Shays came lumbering down the hill with sixteen or eighteen log cars, I said, 'Wow, look at that!'" Today John is considered by his peers to be one of 76


the master model builders to be found in-the Denver area. He builds locomotives, rolling stock, and structures based on prototypes from all around the world, but his models of Colorado equipment are of particular interest here. In John's basement sit models of Colorado buildings that might very well be the only surviving record of those structures. For John, the fun of model railroading is building prototypically accurate models. His layout itself is not meant to be any particular place, but is, as he puts it, the "world's biggest test track". This is where he makes sure the beautifully crafted locomotives he builds will operate. Once he is certain they run, they are as likely as not to end up in a display case. Whether focusing on individual pieces of equipment, structures, specific locales, or even entire operating districts, the prototype modelers I interviewed all spend considerable time researching whatever aspect of railroading they have chosen to model. For most of them, research has become almost as important a part of the hobby as building and operating trains. Duncan Harvey 77


says, "It's like a treasure hunt. It's an adventure. And it's a heck of a lot of fun." For model railroaders, research is generally a mixture of reading books, visiting libraries, museums and historical societies, and taking field trips to actual railroad sites. It also includes working closely with other modelers either casually or by way of membership in a variety of clubs and organizations. One of the most common gathering places for Denver-area modelers is Caboose Hobbies, a gargantuan model railroad store at 500 South Broadway and the mecca for Denver model railroaders, as well as amagnet for model railroaders from around the world. Reading books is a starting point for most modelers, as it often is for other types of historians. In this regard the model railroader has no shortage of material from which to choose. Colorado railroads have been well documented and the shelves of the Western History Department on the fifth floor of the Denver Public Library's Central Branch, and the new Robert W. Richardson Library at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden are well stocked with material about every major railroad that ever ran track across the state. Beyond the bounty available on public shelves, many model 78


railroaders have amassed impressive personal libraries of their own. Dale Evans has more than 120 books, all of which he has catalogued and logged on his computer for easy reference. As well as reading books, modelers also get a wealth of information about prototype trains from popular magazines like Trains, Railroad Model Craftsman, and Model Railroader. Duncan Harvey has a shelf filled with neatly bound copies of Model Railroader, and Randy Rieck has editions going back as far as 1963. Being historians as well as hobbyists, these model railroaders rely heavily on primary sources when doing their research. A host of documents support the accuracy of the models they build. In order to build accurate freight car trucks (wheel assemblies), John Robinson uses the actual drawings from the manufacturer of the prototype trucks, or when crafting a brass locomotive model he works from the specifications provided by Baldwin Locomotive Works. Many of these drawings are not easily obtained by the general public, so John relies on friendships and contacts around the country to provide him with such rare source materials. A popular source when building structures are the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps that can be found in the 79


Western History Department of Denver Public Library. In researching structures for the Gilpin Tram, Bob Boorman has found the Sanborn maps to be a useful, if not definitive source for providing what he calls "a footprint" for the building. "I'm not saying that this is right, but they give you the sizes. So if you have a picture --let's .say a three-quarter view--you can kind of get a proportion of the building that way. It tells if the mine or mill had electric power, or if it was heated by coal or oil. Most of the mills up in Central City were both coal and water power. And most of the water wheels were under-shot wheels. That kind of stuff is in there." Since there are virtually no commercial models of Gilpin rolling stock on the market, Bob has been forced to research dimensions and details from some creative primary sources. Folio sheets on ore cars have shown him that "none of the cars were the same. Some had tapered end sill boards, some were straight. And that's the kind of thing we try to find out in research." A visit to the archives at the Colorado Railroad Museum turned up a repair order for caboose #1, which had been damaged in a wreck. The order specified the exact size of the trucks, which made it possible to make accurate wheel-sets for a model of the car. As with any historical research, the investigation often involves the use of a variety of sources strung 80


together. Take for example Duncan Harvey's search for Mother Grundy Rock, a prominent outcropping along the right-of-way of the C&S line through Clear Creek Canyon. "I think I've located where Mother Grundy was. It's possible it still exists, so this summer we're going to take a little field trip, and put on our hip boots, because I think we'll be doing some wading back there." I asked Duncan how he had located Mother Grundy. His search began with several books that mention the feature and say that it is down-grade from Beaverbrook Station and upgrade from Golden. Duncan then bought a map from an Idaho Springs cartography company_. The cartographer had two maps of Clear Creek, a six-foot version and a twelve-foot. Duncan wanted it big, so he bought the larger map. Sure enough, there was Mother Grundy. Checking known points on the he was able to locate the position of the rock. "We looked and said, 'Okay, this is the railroad grade. Here's where the tunnel is, [and] here's where the second tunnel is. So Mother Grundy must be between the first and second tunnel.' We think we know where it is, but it took some looking and piecing of information from one source and comparing it with another source before we got it." As Duncan found out, finding what is shown on a map is not always as easy as it first appears. He recently tried to locate the Silverton Railroad turntable at Corkscrew Gulch between Chattanooga and Red Mountain. 81


Noted railroad author Lucius Beebe writes that, "Nothing in the operation of the Silverton Railroad ... was more fascinating to engineers and collectors of railroad curiosa than its turntable at Corkscrew Gulch." (16) Duncan now realizes that he was a mile or two from where it is located. "All the maps I had werentenough to show me clearly where I was, or where I wanted to go. Since then --more research --I found out where we were. We were so close I could kick myself." In doing research for a pamphlet he is writing on the Austin City Railway in Nevada, John Robinson has relied heavily on local newspapers of the time and original photographs. He bemoans the practice of photographers of the period who reused their unsold negatives, thereby wiping out previous exposures. He has been trying to locate photographs of Austin, Nevada taken by a photographer named Crockwell, but fears that many of the shots were lost when film was reused. He found the name "Crockwell" back-stamped on several shots at Denver Public Library and hopes to track down more of the collection in Salt Lake City, from which, he has learned, Crockwell was based. John will persevere, but as with any other historian, model railroaders often encounter stumbling blocks and dead ends when resources dry up. 82


Modelers are often the best sources for one another. In order to reconstruct the Durango yards on his Durango & Silverton layout, Cris Park will be using a plati of the yards as they looked in 1927 which he was given by another modeler. While the plans are a little later than the period he intends to model, 1900 to 1920, they show the "balloon" or "bubble" turn-around tracks that ran in reverse of their present arrangement. Cris has been able to confirm the plans with photographs taken during the era he will be modeling. While much of the research done by model railroaders takes place in libraries and museums, visits to sites of the prototype railroads are an indispensable part of their investigations. Such visits are also fun, and fun is what they are in the hobby for. As narrow gauge enthusiasts, they are all veteran riders on Colorado's famous narrow gauge trains --the Georgetown Loop, the Cumbres & Toltec, and of course the Durango & Silverton; but their field trips take them off the paths beaten by the average tourist. These trips are usually not simply sight-seeing affairs, but have specific goals, like collecting samples or artifacts, taking pictures of a particular structure or setting, or finding the exact location of a distinctive natural 83


feature such as Mother Grundy Rock. Walking an abandoned grade is a particularly enjoyable way of immersing one's self in the aura of a railroad bygoing back in time, as Dale Evans does when he hikes the ghostly path of the Denver, South Park and Pacific. In Dale's back yard are hundreds of artifacts he has found while following the railroad's grade up over Kenosha Pass, or along the Highline over Boreas Pass to Baker Water Tank. Among his finds are switch frogs, fish plates (for joining rails), buckets of rusty spikes, and an iron plate with the words "Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf" stamped in the metal,.probably an identification plate from a freight car. The railroad is unusual enough for Dale to value this plate as a rare find. In Dale's case, the old adage about one man's trash being another man's treasure fully applies. He will park his camper and walk along the old grade. "Sometimes I'll spend all day on a looking. Seeing what I can find. whole lot on the railroad bed --I side, just to see what I can find. Albert can or whatever." I asked about following the grade. mile, just I don't look a get down on the An old Prince Is it still visible, or would someone need a map to find it? Dale 84


said that much of the grade became the route of U.S. Highway 285 from Bailey to Kenosha Pass, but there are many areas where railroad and asphalt road separate, and there the grade is generally visible. Although the rails are gone, Dale says that the ties are often there, under the ground. On cold mornings, when the ground is frosted, the ties appear like ghosts. "I found out recently, walking them in the fall or early spring when there's frost out there, the ties are buried and you can see the frost on the ties. In between the ties there's no frost." Why walk the paths of vanished railroads? "I do it for fun," Dale replies easily. "I do it just for me. As long as I can walk I'll keep doing it." Others, like Bob Boorman and John Robinson also do it for fun, but they have very definite modeling goals as well. In a recent trip to the old mining districts above Silverton, they measured every building in the town of Ironton, took photographs, and collected paint chips in order to match the colors for scale models of the structures. EPA warnings aside Bob hails the heavy lead content used in paint a century ago. "You can almost see the chunks of lead in it," he quips. "If they had painted those buildings with the paint we have today, you wouldn't have any paint left." While Bob and John are trekking the mountains in 85


search of paint chips to get the color right on a model of a building, Randy Rieck is off with a bucket to get it right for an entire mountainside. As part of his commitment to scenic accuracy, Randy uses the actual dirt, leaves, and twigs from the terrain he models as ground-cover on his Eldora and Lost Lake Railroad. "When you see the dirt at Woodland Flats [on his layout], you know it's the right color because that's where it came from. The more natural products you can use in a model railroad, the better. Color doesn't know any scale." On occasion, an unexpected find will turn up. On a trip to the Argentine Central, Randy found a dump outside the old enginehouse. Among the treasures were many pieces of broken crockery bearing the C&S logo. Randy collected the pieces and brought them home. After a considerable time matching the broken fragments, he was able to piece together one complete dinner plate. Like a tightly knit academic fraternity, modeling clubs and railroad associations constitute an important source of information for the modeler. Several of the men who were interviewed for this study prefer to limit their associations to casual friendships. They meet informally with other modelers and exchange ideas and information about railroads and modeling. Others belong to standing groups who meet regularly or even hold 86


conventions. Duncan Harvey, Cris Park, and Curt Nielsen are all members or regular attendees of the South Suburban Division of the National Model Railroad Association. This club holds monthly meetings where tips are shared and railroading, both model and prototype, is discussed. For example, at a recent meeting, members watched a video on the reconditioning of a derelict locomotive in the shops of the Durango & Silverton. Duncan and Cris are also members of the newly formed Colorado & Southern Historical Society, which focuses on researching and preserving the C&S, and publishes a news letter which features valuable information for modelers and railroad historians alike. John Robinson belongs to so many organizations that he claims to spend a fortune in dues every year. Among others, he is a member of the Denver Posse of Westerners (western history enthusiasts), the Nevada Historical Society, the Mining History Association, the Narrow Gauge Society (of England), the Rolls Royce Honors Club (being the owner of a 1935 Rolls), and the Society for Industrial Archeology. This last reflects John's interest in the technical aspects of railroading, particularly the locomotives he models with such 87


exacting detail. Although the Society for Industrial Archeology has a limited following in the west, it is very big in the east. Members share an interest in technology including cast iron buildings, dams, power plants and, of course, locomotives. As John puts it, "There are people who are just foaming at the mouth about steel.mills in the 1880s." In England, interest in industrial archeology far exceeds that in the United States because Americans recycled such things rather than preserve them. When asked why he thinks this was so, John replies: "Expediency. We built railroads to places that didn't exist and hoped for business. The English always built to someplace where there was existing business." The commitment to accurately recreating the prototype is what takes some model railroaders from hobbyists to historians. In fact, through hours of researching the railroad he is trying to recreate, the prototype modeler becomes an artist, a historian, and a preservationist. Why this commitment to getting things as close as possible to the way they actually were? After all, who 88


but another railroad fanatic will ever know the difference? Cris Park answers: "If I am going to build the Durango & Silverton it should be prototypical at given locations. Like the ledge. Nobody said it should be there. It's just that it's there. So it should be there." To ask the prototype modeler why this attention to detail is the same as asking any historian why he insists on getting the facts right. Because that is the way it happened. Dale Evans puts it simply when he says, "Model railroading is like living history." Randy Rieck adds: "You have a specific time and a setting, and then you get things that fit that. And everything else, it doesn't matter how good it is or what it is, if it doesn't fit, you have no use for it." As historians, modelers are called upon to be selective in what they will or will not use. They must resist the temptation to include something that did not appear on the prototype, which often means overcoming their fascination with a certain bit of scenery, building, or a favorite Bob Boorman models the Gilpin Tram in large part because he likes Shay locomotives, and they were not in use everywhere. John Robinson considers the famous Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern interesting, but he has never built one because they appeared after the era that he 89


models, which is about 1870 to 1920. Although it is more restrictive to the creative spirit to model prototype as opposed to freelance, Duncan Harvey has a good reason for doing it that way. "Relatively few people actually model the real railroad with the real scenery and the real structures. It is more limiting doing that. But the research is fun. Going to the library and digging out the plans and the photographs, and saying, 'Here's a photograph I didn't know existed of this mill from the backside. Just what I need. Now I can make the model.' It's fun." Not everything about model railroading is or can be true to the prototype. The reality is that these are models of something huge, and the modeler must make concessions. Even relatively small railroads covered many miles, and at a scale ratio of 1:87, HO layouts would fill auditoriums if they attempted to reproduce such areas to scale. This is why modelers employ a technique known as selective compression. In the case of a layout such as Duncan Harvey's Colorado & Southern, certain areas like Fork's Creek and parts of Black Hawk are modeled reasonably true to scale, but the miles in between are compressed. The same technique can be applied to large buildings which, if modeled exactly to scale, would overwhelm a scene. Cris Parks plans to include the easily recognizable depot at Durango, but needs to make some changes to accommodate his space 90


limitations. He says: "I will probably end up scratch building the Durango depot, but when I do I will compress it because it's really long and will fit better if I cut the two wings down." The degree to which he is committed to historical exactness varies from one model railroader to another. The locomotives and structures John Robinson creates are built to precise measurements and are, by this writer's standards, of museum quality. He will drive hundreds of miles to measure a prototype railroad car and take pictures of it. "It's nothing to shoot a roll of film on a freight car," he says. Randy Rieck uses actual dirt and leaves to make his scenery accurate, but when he fashions his mine buildings he goes more for a general feel of the building than an exact reproduction. Working from photographs, he draws the building on a drafting table until the proportions look right. "They all have the flavor of the building they are supposed to be. If it looks right, it's okay with me." His locomotives and rolling stock, however, are more precise. Why? ''Because there's plans for it." Curt Nielsen approaches the hobby more as an art than a science. Rather than faithfully modeling a single railroad, he has a vision of how Colorado narrow 91

PAGE 100

gauge was, and he models that vision, using the best of many different lines. "There are certain aspects I want, but because of room I might put Como after the Alpine Tunnel. I'll build the scene, but it might not be in the right order. I'm really going to screw everybody up because I'm dead set on having the Cork Screw Gulch." He sums it up with these words: "It's my railroad and I can do whatever I want." The need for historical accuracy in their model making compels model railroaders to dig for material that will assure the level of authenticity which they demand. As this chapter has shown, they use many of the same primary resources and research techniques used by professional academic historians. Yet the model railroaders interviewed here seem reluctant to assume that mantle. When asked if he has ever thought of model railroaders in those terms, Randy Rieck returns quickly to the main reason for the hobby, saying, "I think model railroaders like to have fun." Duncan Harvey admits that modelers often cover ground which professional historians leave alone. 92

PAGE 101

"The guys down at the university, most of them, aren't interested a whole lot in the C&S. They would be interested in. as much as it contributed to Colorado history. They might be interested in how it helped the cities of Georgetown and Idaho Springs. But as to the size of the rail that the C&S used, or the co 1 or of the depots, they wouldn't much care about that." John Robinson explains that many model railroaders are, in fact, more interested in the fun the hobby provides them and don't do a great deal of research, but that there are many who do. "Most of us have an interest in history. At least, if they're in the narrow gauge and western railroads. I know there are people in HO who just like to run trains, and that's fine. But the people I tend to know are more interested in history. Some in a casual way, others are more serious." Just how serious does it get? Sometimes the interest in the history of railroads takes on a life of its own and leaves modeling behind. John Robinson's research has led him to challenge professional historians on more than one occasion. Take, for example, the generally accepted story about a Denver & Rio Grande locomotive, the Mountaineer. Conventional wisdom has it that this unusual push-pull unit was a gift to the railroad's founder, William Jackson Palmer, from the Earl of Northumberland. John says it's all legend. The engine was actually bought by the railroad, against Palmer's wishes, from the Vulcan Iron Works of 93

PAGE 102

England for $14,700. If so many railroad historians have accepted the Earl of Northumberland story, how can a model railroader like John Robinson say that it wasn't true? He has visited the Colorado Historical Society and read through the papers of Palmer and his English friend, Dr. William A. Bell, who "along with thousands of other nineteenth-century Britishers, was fascinated by the American West." (17) Through these papers at the Historical Society, John found the truth. Another myth John likes to debunk concerns the Nevada Central's arrival in the town of Austin. According to a legend begun by a 1913 newspaper writer, the railroad had to reach the city limits by midnight of February 9, 1880 or forfeit a county bond. When it became clear that the tracks would fall short, a hasty meeting of the city council simply extended the city limits to meet the track. As charming as the story may be, John's research in newspapers of the time prove that it never happened. The city limits had, indeed, been extended --years before. Finally, John has no time for the work of historian George Woodman Hilton, whose book (18) argues that narrow gauge was an inherently flawed concept, and which John Robinson calls 94

PAGE 103

"the biggest bunch of baloney I've ever read." John argues his point of view this way: "He [Hilton] hasgot his PhD and he's written several books, and he says that anybody who likes narrow gauge is crazy. But he, as an economist, missed the whole point, in that he claimed that narrow gauge went broke because it was narrow gauge. They went broke because there was no business." According to John Robinson, narrow gauge began to fail with the arrival of electric power because "half their business was hauling coal." So it is that model railroaders, as good historians, not only amass knowledge through their research, they analyze and synthesize that information to formulate theories about railroading history. Duncan Harvey tells how he theorizes the color scheme of C&S switch stand signs in the absence of color photographs or existing stands. One school of thought says that the stands were painted black on yellow, while another argues that they were red on white. Existing black and white photographs are inconclusive, but Duncan has his own ideas. He says that the high cost of yellow paint in the 1890s strongly suggests that the red and white scheme was used. Hardly earth-shaking history, but the process by which model railroaders reach conclusions such as this is the same as that used by professional 95

PAGE 104

PhD historians. Finally, it must be remembered that model railroaders are not limited in their interests to trains and tracks. The railroads operated as part of a wider social and economic milieu, and modelers are often historians of such things as mining or architecture. Many of the commercial structures on Duncan Harvey's layout have complete interiors, meticulously researched for historical accuracy wherever possible. Bob Boorman admits that his interest in mining runs parallel to his interest in the Gilpin Tram. In researching railroads, John Robinson has made some interesting discoveries about life in Colorado mining towns. In an 1893 photograph of Telluride, John noticed tank cars on a railroad siding. His curiosity was piqued because he knew of no tank cars on D&RG's rosters. He has been to track down the tank cars, but he feels certain about their contents from his knowledge of Colorado mining towns. The only commodity in large enough demand to warrant tank cars was the kerosene used for lamp fuel. As John points out, "Saloons ran twenty-four hours a day. What would you do from six in the evening until six in the morning? All those mines ran twenty-four hours a day. All the surface work was lit by kerosene." 96

PAGE 105

From this one photograph, John Robinson is able to interpret a much broader social fabric, and in gleaning old newspapers for information on railroads, John was struck by the sophisticated foods being offered at the local general stores in otherwise rustic mining camps. He has come across ads for English preserves from Cross and Blackwells and hogs-heads of fresh oysters, to which John comments, "Wait a minute. I thought these people were out in the wilderness eating biscuits and hard tack and shooting venison." For many prototype model railroaders, what began with a Lionel train at Christmas has grown to a love affair not only with trains, but with the whole fabric of Colorado history. They are dedicated and determined researchers who represent a considerable repository of expertise. Yet what they do remains fun for them, so they struggle with the image of themselves as historians. Perhapsthat is because they research primarily in order to model. Railroading has produced some widely recognized artists, whose work appears in books and galleries 97

PAGE 106

around the world. One can scarcely pick up a book on Colorado narrow gauge without seeing the photographs of William Henry Jackson, and contemporary artists like Howard Fogg have painted railroad scenes that capture the power and excitement of the Colorado "high iron". These are certainly wonderful sources for anyone interested in how steam railroading looked and felt, but they are, after all, two dimensional and stationary. One way to see those railroads in motion is to visit the home of a serious, prototype model railroader. In Randy Rieck's basement, Colorado narrow gauge comes to life when a finely detailed locomotive begins to roll down the track at the head of a short string of turn-of-thecentury box cars. The sense of reality is heightened by the sounds of steam and whistle and bell that accompany the little engine as it winds its way past mines that seem to have stepped from the pages of history. Any observer quickly realizes that this not a child's toy. This is historic art at its very best. Down in Duncan Harvey's basement the visitor can watch a train roll through the wye at Forks Creek, or past the distinctive bulk of Hanging Rock. And Cris Park plans that the first thing visitors to his Durango & Silverton see will be the spectacular cliff at Rockwood. 98

PAGE 107

The Scotch Girl mine at Ouray is gone now, but it can still be seen in perfect miniature down in John Robinson's basement, along with the Mary Murphy and dozens of other historic Colorado buildings. Like the locomotives he builds, John has invested considerable time and effort in recreating these buildings accurately. Far from being toys, these railroads and the structures and equipment on them are works of art, every bit as significant as many of those housed in museum collections. Yet when I suggested to these modelers that some of their pieces should some day go to museums, or that a museum for model railroad art would be something worth having, they were hesitant to agree. Randy Rieck said, "I think that the percentage [of models] that belong in a museum is probably fairly tiny.'' He also points out that, while some things might belong in a museum, they also "have a substantial value in the marketplace'' which should not be denied to a modeler's family in the event of his death. One of the truly great model railroaders of all time was John Allen, a California modeler whose Gorre & Daphetid is often hailed as the finest home layout ever built. Unfortunately, a fire in his home shortly after 99

PAGE 108

John Allen's death destroyed this work of art. Most model railroaders are familiar with this tragedy, so I raised the question about what is to become of their railroads after their deaths. Generally, the answer was the same --the layout will be trashed and the structures and equipment will be sold by the family. Duncan Harvey has already made arrangements for the sale of his railroad. "I've got a notebook that I keep, and the major purchases are all catalogued. So when I die, either my wife or daughters could go through and relatively easily sell it. The actual physical layout will probably just be chain-sawed." Duncan wants his family not to worry about getting too much or too little for his railroad. He wants them to understand that in his lifetime he got full enjoyment from it. "The value has been realized." When asked if any part-of his railroad should go to a museum, Duncan waves toward his basement and says, "In a way, this is a museum." John Robinson will not claim that the models he builds belong in a museum, but he is fully aware of the way they and preserve a piece of history. "We always assumed that stuff [mining buildings] would survive forever. Then in the last ten years or so it suddenly dawned on us that it's all being taken down, falling down, or being destroyed in various ways. And we'd better get out there and document what we can." 100

PAGE 109

Bob Boorman adds this: "It's people like John, and I guess myself, who are preserving history. Because eventually Ironton is going to go away. Just like [the town of] Red Mountain has gone away." For the old-fashioned steam enthusiast, the future of railroads in Colorado looks grim. With the merger of the Rio Grande into the Southern Pacific a few years ago, and then the merger of Southern Pacific into the Union Pacific in 1996, many former mountain lines (Tennessee Pass in particular) are threatened with closure. John Robinson believes that the merger will lead to changes that would "be to the detriment of the state." He believes that Colorado "would be crazy to let [the railroads] go away, but they have been used as whipping boys for years and years, and I don't see anybody changing that." While tourism thrives, lines like the Durango & Silverton should do fine, but such operations, reliant as they are on antiquated machinery and a fickle public, are always tenuous. Dale Evans likes the idea of a narrow gauge line up to Central City and Black Hawk using existing steam power for the rail buffs and 101

PAGE 110

light-weight diesel for the gamblers. He says, "If I won the lottery, I'd sure invest." Duncan Harvey has heard about plans to build-a line from Como over Boreas Pass to Breckenridge. "It would be a tourist train in summer," he says, "and in winter you could park in Como and ride the train over to ski." Discussing the future of railroads holds relatively little interest for these model railroaders, and their attention quickly returns to that place, long ago where they are most happy. Like other historians they appreciate the relevancy of the history they study and its place in the present, but they have a piece of the past that makes them happy, and it's there they retreat after a long day. In the end, they just want to have fun. 102

PAGE 111

CHAPTER 5 HISTORY WITH A PASSION: THE ROLE OF NON-PROFESSIONALS IN WRITING COLORADO RAILROAD HISTORY "The railroad was the crowning feature of the transportation network attracted to the mining frontier. First had come crude trails, then the toll and public roads and, in a few areas, river transportation. Over these had traveled the freighters' wagons and the stagecoaches, but all had their disadvantages. The railroad, the product of nineteenth century technology and skill, furnished the ultimate answer. An immense change had come to the west." (1) Duane Smith "The commercial advantages accruing to Denver and Colorado generally, by the energy and development of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway cannot be fully appreciated or over-estimated. It has done more toward the prosperity of this grand State than all other agencies combined. It has sought out and developed her treasures of mineral, and has been the pioneer in all enterprises for the development of the commonwealth." (2) George G. Everett To say that railroads played a significant part in American history during the fifty years following the Civil War would be an understatement equivalent to describing that war as a constitutional skirmish. The writers quoted above clearly recognize the tremendous 103

PAGE 112

impact railroads had on the growth and development of the American frontier, and neither would be likely to dispute the larger, nationwide importance of railroads during the second half of the nineteenth century. One of these however, sees the history of the railroads as a fundamental thread running through the fabric of Colorado history, around which other social and economic threads can be woven; while the other views the history of railroads as secondary to more dominant fibers in the historical pattern, in particular mining and the growth of an urban frontier. One approaches his topic as a professional historian, while the other is an amateur railroad "buff". Duane Smith is a professor of history at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He has written numerous books on western history and is a PhD historian. George Everett was a third generation resident of the Upper Arkansas Valley and an avid Colorado history enthusiast. Although he was a member of the Chaffee County Pioneer and Historical Society, he did not hold a PhD in the subject. These writers illustrate an intriguing dichotomy in the of Colorado railroads. While those railroads were, undeniably, a vital component of the 104

PAGE 113

state's history, the preservation of that history has been, to a large extent, abdicated by the professional community of historians to a larger group of less professional historians. (I hesitate to use the term "amateur" at this point, as will be discussed later in a consideration of the terms "amateur" and "professional" when applied to historians.) The half-century which followed the Civil War has been periodized in a variety of ways. It has been treated as a period of industrialization, immigration, capitalism, social reform, urbanization, westward expansion, progressivism, imperialism' populism, ad nauseum. To this list of categorizations might be added one more --it was the age of the railroad. The railroad building which had begun in the decades preceding the war exploded in the fifty years which followed it. Along with the automobile and computer, the railroad must be ranked as one of those ubiquitous technologies which changed the face of the American landscape. No sane historian would debate the importance of the role railroads played in the growth 105

PAGE 114

of 19th Century America. Narrow the historical focus to the American West during this period and the role of railroads seems to swell. Vital as it was to the industrial East and the agricultural Midwest, the railroad takes on almost mythological stature in the history of western settlement. As the quotations from Duane Smith and George Everett suggest, historians writing scholarly works as well as those writing popular history agree that the railroad played a.critical part in the drama of westward expansion. Even an analytical piece written by economists can not avoid the realization that railroads were fundamental to the development of the west. David Nelson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at North Dakota State University contributed the following to a study of transportation policies in the west: "The development of the trans-Missouri west, then, became a function of the successful introduction of a rail system to serve the import and export requirements of a commercial economy." (3) Certainly a far less passionate evaluation than either Smith's or Everett's, but the same appreciation comes. through the steri 1 e prose. Railroads and the history of the west were inexorably linked. Narrow the focus further, to the state of Colorado, and the shadow 106

PAGE 115

cast by railroads grows ever longer. Colorado has owed much of its growth to mining, from precious metals like gold and silver, to coal, to the more exotic minerals such as molybdenum and uranium and always to the accompaniment of the ringing song of the gandy dancer's hammer. Wherever lucrative mining camps sprang up, the rails usually penetrated the mountains to meet them, and whether it was the towns or the rails that came first, the two of them were tied together by the bonds of mutual interest. The importance of this relationship to the settlement of Coloradois recognized by professional and non-professional historians alike. In his history of Durango, Mountain Boom Town, Duane Smith writes: "Durango might never have seen the light of day had not the ambitious Denver and Rio Grande Railroad clashed with a stubborn Animas City." (4) Toward the end of the book, Smith goes on to point out that the railroad's impact lessened as the years went by, but he makes it clear that that impact was of tremendous importance. "Over it all watched Durango's founder and promoter, organizer and developer, the Denver and Rio Grande. nearly singlehandedly it guided the community's early years, yet its day passed rapidly. ( 5) Colorado historian Thomas J. Noel also appreciates 107

PAGE 116

the importance of railroads in the state's development. With co-authors Paul F. Mahoney and Richard E. Stevens, "Railroads did more than enable existing towns to survive and prosper; they became the principal vehicle of town building." (6) There can be no doubt that non-professional and professional historians share a common vision of railroads as key players in the history of the United States in general, and Colorado and the west specifically. Yet from that single point of agreement the vision begins to diverge. For non-professionals, those who would probably identify themselves as railroad "enthusiasts" of "buffs", railroads maintain a preeminent role. For the majority of professional historians, the railroads begin to fade into the background, until they have assumed a position no more exalted than any other interesting phenomenon of the West. In the two books by Duane Smith cited above, prostitution enjoys nearly as much attention as the railroads. Again we must ask: Why does the community of professional historians, a group which admits the importance of railroad history, leave so much of the writing of that history in the hands of the non-108

PAGE 117

professionals? It becomes necessary at this juncture to define terms. Where is the line drawn between those historians we would refer to as "professional,. and those who would be called "non-professional"? Historians: ----------In a general sense, the terms "professional" and "amateur" are easily enough defined. The distinction by defining professional as a "person practicing a profession", with a profession being 11a vocation or occupation requiring advanced education and training, and involving intellectual skills." An "amateur .. on the other hand, is defined as "a person who engages in some art, science, sport, etc. for the pleasure of it rather than for money." Webster's second definition of "amateur" is particularly enlightening for the purposes of this paper: "a person who does something without professional skill." The term "buff" is far more colloquial and as such does not appear in Webster's Second College Edition. It does, however, appear in John Ciardi's 109

PAGE 118

where it is defined as: "Devotee, eficianado, enthusiastic adherent. Most women are marriage buffs. Civil War buff. Railroad buff. [The early XIX form was fire buff, applied to the NYC volunteer firemen after the buff-color uniforms of professional firemen.] (7) It is intriguing that Ciardi uses "Civil War buff" and "railroad buff" as examples. Discarding the flagrantly sexist reference to women, Ciardi has focused on two of the most recognized groups of buffs in America. It is also interesting that for both of the words "devotee" and "enthusiast", Webster uses "zealot" as a synonym. At this point we might be getting somewhat far afield of a workable definition. While I will continue to use the colloquial term "buff", it will be treated as meaning an "enthusiast", with only a marginal hint at fanaticism. The line between professionals and amateurs in many fiel_ds are clearly drawn. In sports, if you are paid you are a professional, if you are not you are an amateur. (Though recent decisions regarding the Olympics have blurred even that usually rigid line.) Medicine has no "amateur" status, although midwives and chiropractors are classed as such by the American Medical Association. In law and education, a class of para-professionals might be viewed as amateurs within 110

PAGE 119

those fields. History, however, presents an interesting challenge to the definition. Many claim the title who do not truly deserve it. Many others who are denied it might well have reason the wear the Tom Noel finds it "ironic that so-called non-professionals often do a more professional job than we PhDs; which is the way I would define a professional, as a PhD historian." (8) While Dr. Noel admits the ironj in non-professionals doing more professional work than those who claim the title by virtue of a degree, his definition at least draws a line that clearly limits the professional ranks for the purpose of this discussion. Therefore, we will proceed on the assumption that a professional historian is one who holds a PhD in the subject area. The amateur, or non-professional; presents a wider, and thus more challenging group to define. Much of Colorado's railroad heritage has been preserved by a group of writers who hold no PhD in history. Whether we call them non-professionals, amateurs, lay historians, or buffs, their works fill many shelves in one of Colorado's most complete railroad collections, the.Robert W. Richardson Library at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. (9) The authors of this 111

PAGE 120

considerable mass of Colorado railroading lore hail from a wide variety of backgrounds. Richard Dorman and is an architect; Kenton Forrest and is a high school teacher in Jefferson County; and Cornelius Hauck and is a business man. Lawyers, museum curators, journalists, and former railroad workers have found the need to write about Colorado's rich railroad history. Most of them are college educated, but few have doctorates, and none in history--hence the classification as "amateurs". It would, however, be an oversimplification to draw the line so abruptly without looking at the ways in which these amateurs deal with Colorado railroad history. Other than their relative. levels of academic training, what sets professional and amateur railroad historians apart? Can there be found within their works fundamental differences in the ways in which they 112

PAGE 121

approach their subject matter? The answer to this question is a qualified yes. It must be qualified by the similarities that exist, and it is these similarities that we must first address here. While an analysis of the entire catalogue of literature written by professionals and amateurs might seem the best way of making a thorough comparison of existing material, such an in-depth surveywould be daunting under the best of circumstances, and impractical in a study such as this, considering the number of books in print. That similarities exist can be effectively illustrated by comparing two books dealing with the growth and development of two different Colorado railroads. One was written by a professional historian, while the other is the result of collaboration by three non-professional railroad enthusiasts. One of the most highly respected books on the history of the Denver & Rio Grande is Robert Athearn's (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962. Also Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 19 under the tit 1 e A professional academic historian, Robert Athearn was eminently qualified to 113

PAGE 122

write a book on Colorado railroad history. He earned his B.A., M.A., and PhD degrees in American history from the University of Minnesota in the 1940s, and joined the faculty of the University of Colorado as a professor of history in 1956. He more than a dozen books about Colorado and other western states, including (University of Oklahoma Press, 1956), Centennial 1959), and (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1971). He also authored some forty articles and 125 book reviews, and was the recipient of the Ford Foundation and Fulbright Fellowships. Athearn's qualifications as a professional historian are beyond reproach. Athearn's main thrust through most of BQkies is business. This is not railroading from the perspective of an engineer or a gandy dancer, but from that of a CEO or banker. From this angle, Athearn traces a major thread in Colorado history, through the microcosm of a single railroad. As he puts it: The history of Colorado and of all Western states is replete with examples of financial exploitation by outsiders who had enough money to buy a proprietary interest in the land. (10) What emerges in the pages of Athearn's book is an 114

PAGE 123

often bewildering story of corporate intrigue and struggle with combatants changing so often that a score card seems necessary. Railroad is pitted against railroad, against banks, against stock holders and bond holders and holding companies and trust companies and government agencies. Then, just when the reader seems to have a handle on who is fighting whom, the players change sides. Denver & Rio Grande founder Palmer is voted out as company president, retains his seat as president of the Rio Grande Western (an independent subsidiary of his original road), and ends up fighting a brutal court battle with the railroad he founded. David removed as Rio Grande president and, more from spite than business sense, stops shipping ore from his own Leadville mines via the Rio Grande and gives the business to the rival Union Pacific. As can be seen, the players in Athearn's book tend to be the barons of finance and industry. Similarly, focuses most of its early pages on the maneuverings of railroad developer and Colorado booster John Evans. The book was written by three authors, not one of whom is a PhD historian. Gordon S. Chappell wrote the first chapter, dealing with the founding and building of the railroad. It is a 115

PAGE 124

competent and well documented account that is supported by a steady flow of primary source citations. Chappell takes us through the building of the railroad with such minute detail that we can almost count the ties as the line creeps up the Platte Canyon, over Kenosha Pass, across South Park, with its final assault through the Alpine Tunnel to Gunnison. Cornelius W. Hauck takes over from Chappell to tell the story of the railroad's changing ownership. In an often bewildering alphabet soup of abbreviations, Hauck sorts through the juggling act that typified railroad stock manipulation at the turn of the century. .. Dodge and Ames combined the DT&FW and DT&G (plus controlling interest in the FW&DC) with the Colorado Central and other minor UP Colorado properties into a new Union Pacific subsidiary the Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf.'' (12) After Hauck's short section, Robert W. Richardson gives an account of the South Park under the auspices of the Colorado & Southern. At this juncture the book becomes less interested in business dealings and focuses instead on the roster of equipment and the more colorful aspects of day-today operations. For the serious student of Colorado railroad history, this book expands M.C. Poor's 1949 work, 116

PAGE 125

Park Line in the Summer, 1976 edition of "Colorado Magazine", Donovan L. Hofsommer of Wayland College wrote, "The book will clearly enjoy its most enthusiastic reception among rail buffs, but there is meat in it for the professional historian as well." (14) Clearly, the work of non-professional and professional historians often cover similar ground and employ similar strategies. Yet it is the differences in their approaches, rather than the similarities that must be addressed here. In the case of the Athearn and Chappel, et. al., books, the first of these differences relates to the comparable level of scholarship, and with it the intended audience, of each study. A quick flip through the pages of each book reveals a complete absence of footnoting in The South Park Line, while ReQel is extensively footnoted. Likewise, the bibliography of each book is very revealing. While it is well researched, the South Park book's bibliography is contained in half of one page. Rebel, on the other hand, offers no fewer than ten pages of bibliographic references. This is not to imply that is in any way poorly researched, but simply indicates a different level of scholarship and a 117

PAGE 126

different target audience. Being a PhD, "trained", academic historian, Robert Athearn demonstrates the usual techniques of his craft --exhaustive research with diligent support along the way. It is a technique born of the realization that whatever he writes will be subjected to the closest possible scrutiny by his peers, who themselves are extremely demanding craftsmen. The understand that their audience is likely to be rail fans, who can be highly sensitive to accuracy of detail, but are less concerned with documenting sources. As Tom Noel points out: "I don't think anybody's ever going to delve into these railroads with more passion and with more concern and with more diligence than these so-called amateur historians. I would rely on their research, even though it's not footnoted. But they go through such intense peer review that I think they're very conscientious, even though they haven't exposed their research in footnotes the way a professional historian would." (15) It is perhaps the "passion" to which Dr. Noel refers that most identifies the work of buffs. As enthusiasts, they naturally bring a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to their writing. This is not to say that the work of professionals is necessarily lacking in either passion or enthusiasm, but much of that quality is often diluted when academic mechanics take precedence 118

PAGE 127

over gut-level zeal. An eye for precision is not always the keenest eye for beauty. Compare the ways in which two writers express the importance of the railroad to Colorado's mining frontier. In the book based on his 0. Meredith Wilson wrote: "The history of the formative years of Rio Grande's constructed line might reasonably serve as an index to the chronology of settlement and development of the Colorado-Utah mining frontier." (16) Wilson's lengthy credentials include President Emeritus of several institutions including the Center for the Study of Advanced Behavioral Sciences . the University of Minnesota and the University of Oregon. As shown in the sample above, his writing in crisp, clean, professional, but short on passion. It is, however, well protected from criticism by other academic historians. While hinting at the importance played by the Denver & Rio Grande, Wilson sums up by saying that it "might reasonably serve as an index" of the growth of mining, an extremely cautious choice of words. Ted McKee, on the other hand, is not a professional historian, and therefore has no need to craft his words so carefully. As a former President of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, his connection with the history of Colorado railroading comes purely from a love of 119

PAGE 128

trains and the railroads which operated them. In his introduction to a book entitled by Leland Peitz, McKee describes the importance of railroads to the Colorado economy this way: "For it was the railroads that brought people into this raw land ... farmers, cattlemen, merchants, miners and madams ... and it was the railroads that carried the rich ores out of the mountains to reach the markets of the world. And because the railroads reached slim, sometimes precarious fingers into canyons and on to peaks, Colorado was able to develop and prosper more rapidly and systematically than any other western state." (17) McKee fearlessly proclaims that Colorado was the West's great success story, and railroads made it possible. Grandiose and over-stated to be sure, but filled with the passion that marks so many books on railroading authored by non-professionals. Where 0. Meredith Wilson sees an "index to.the chronology of settlement and development", Ted McKee sees a "raw land" penetrated by "slim precarious fingers into canyons and on to peaks." Good history? Perhaps it is not, or at least not when measured by academic standards; but it is the kind of history that attracts thousands of railroad buffs. If history ultimately belongs to the pub1ic, then what better history can there be? But does history, in fact, belong to the public, or are there two kinds of history to be found 120

PAGE 129

one public, one scholarly? The debate goes on. Professional vs Non-Professional: The Debate --------The division which separates professional railroad historians from their amateur "colleagues" is part of a much wider debate within the historical community as a whole. In June of 1993, The Journal of American History mailed out a survey to its 9,162 subscribers with the intention of opening a dialogue about the nature and state of their craft. Among other issues regarding the practice of history, the Journal solicited opinions about "the company we [professional historians] are keeping and not keeping." (18) Of those surveyed, 1,047 responded. How they answered certain questions has direct bearing on the practice of history as it relates to professionals and amateurs in the writing of Colorado railroad history. The survey reported that; "The worst consequence of turning inward to talk with each other, in the eyes of many respondents, was that it replaced talk with other audiences who had once been important to historians, particularly students and amateurs." (19) The article does not specify what percentage qualified as "many respondents", but it seems clear that 121

PAGE 130

a significant enough portion of the professional historians responding felt that the profession was turning its back on the amateurs who had "once been important." The article goes on to add that: "While historians may be communicating with more diverse audiences in more varied ways than earlier, respondents reported that the basic thrust of scholarship has been to cut historians off from the many Americans who were interested in history in less formal ways, as students, as citizens, as hobbiests or buffs." (20) In fact, 80% of the American respondents agreed that "Good historical scholarship engages multiple and diverse audiences", and 65% agreed that "A class system divides those in universities and a few 'elite' institutions from those who practice history in other places." (21) The point here being that the practice of history does not stop within the stereotypical ivy-covered walls of universities. References to "amateurs", "hobbiests", "buffs", and "those who practice history in other places" reveals a concern for a self-imposed isolation among the professional historians who responded to the survey. There seems to be a sense that the fraternity/sorority has cut itself off from a viable strata within their profession, to the detriment of the practice of history as a whole. 122

PAGE 131

This discussion continues through a number a:rticles in this particular issue of the JAH. Several writers express concern for the degree to which professional history has isolated itself from public history. (From this writer's perspective, the term "public history" suggests the existence of a "private history", a notion which seems extraordinarily elitist.) Edward T. Linenthal, professor of religion and American culture at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, observes that this isolation reflects particularly poor timing, coming as it does when public interest in history is on the rise. "Ironically, at the very time when many historians bemoan their estrangement from public history, there is a significant popular interest in American history, or at least, in several episodes of that history."(22) Linenthal goes on to point out that the danger here lies in the fact that a non-profession cadre of historians has captured the public attention in ways that academia finds hard to match. "In the classroom our voicesare usually unchallenged; in the world of popular interpretation, however, we compete with others: filmmakers; 'buffs' such as reenactors, collectors, and conspiracy theorists; and interpreters working at historic sites." (23) Do amateur historians present a challenge to those who practice history as a profession? Are the walls of academia under siege? While this might be an 123

PAGE 132

exaggeration, Tom Noel admits that amateurs, with their considerable arsenal expertise can be intimidating. "I think in a way scholars may be scared off by these guys --they know so much. It's intimidating to try to talk railroads with these guys who know this tremendous amount of information, ... and [it] kind of scares off historians who are used to speaking to freshman classes that don't challenge you, and don't know when you're wrong." (24) In fact, a certain amount of antipathy does exist among the enthusiast historians toward the ranks of the professionals. As discussed in an earlier chapter, model railroader John Robinson has no difficulty in taking on one of the professionals in the field. Robinson challenges George W. Hilton's thesis that the narrow gauge railroads vanished because they were inherently impractical because they did not match the standard 4' -8 1/2" gauge being used around the rest of the country. In his book, Hilton writes: "Accordingly, we are probably justified in concluding that 4' -8 1/2" is approximately optimal in respect to the indivisible size of the human being. With respect to the subject of the present book, the experience of the narrow gauge movement demonstrated definitively that gauges under 4' -8 1/2" are less than optimal for general transportation purposes."(25) A professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles and Research Associate of the 124

PAGE 133

Smithsonian Institution, Hilton's credentials seem to be impeccable. Yet John Robinson is unimpressed. According to Robinson, Hilton: "missed the whole point, in that he claimed that narrow gauge went broke because it was narrow gauge. They went broke because there was no business. When electricity came in, that was the beginning of the end for the narrow gauge railroads, because half their business was hauling coal." (26) Robinson bristles at the idea that academic credential makes someone a more qualified historian. Of George Hilton he says that "he has got his PhD and he's written several books and he says that anybody who likes narrow gauge is crazy," (27) From the other side, professional historians often regard amateurs with a certain degree of disdain. Part of this attitude arises from the fact that the profession is so vaguely defined. As Tom Noel says, "Anybody can call themselves an historian. There's no union. No licensing. No minimum requirements." (28) Jealousy also plays its part in the division which exists between professionals and amateurs. Non-professionals do much the same work that is being done by historians rooted in academia, yet they often sense that they .are not receiving the credit that work deserves because, as John Robinson points out, they do 125

PAGE 134

not hold a PhD in history to validate their findings. On the other hand, professionals find that greater public attention, and often greater financial reward, goes to "historians" who cater to the public. Producers like Ken Burns and writers like James Mitchner are more widely recognized than the hard-working historians who labor daily in archives and libraries, preparing monographs that will be seen by only a relative handful of colleagues. This jealousy can quickly turn to hostility. As Alan Brinkley, professor of history at Columbia University points out: "Academia, critics argue, offers few rewards for reaching beyond the scholarly world. Many academics are suspicious of or hostile to public (as opposed to scholarly) discourse, strongly averse to anything that might seem 'popularized' or 'middlebrow'." (29) In Colorado, this attitude has relegated railroad history to a lowly status within the professional community. Tom Noel points out that .he cannot recall a session on railroads at the annual meeting of the Western History Association for twenty years, with more attention focusing on "women's history, ethnic history, [and other] more fashionable topics." (30) However, Noel adds that this is, in part, explained by the fact that these are relatively unexplored areas while railroads have been so thoroughly examined. 126

PAGE 135

The Future ---------The debate between professional and amateur historians has not hampered the writing of Colorado's railroad history to any significant degree. Hundreds of books on the subject attest to its health and vitality. That it has been popularized by the work of amateurs has done no apparent harm to the more scholarly efforts of academic historians. If anything, this growing popularity might, in fact, open new doors to the advancement of historical interest in general. Edward Linenthal writes: "Academic historians can find much to criticize in all this, but given such heightened public interest, this is a serendipitous time for academic historians to examine the ways in which our history is mediated and narrated in public and to add their voices to the shaping of such interpretive work." (31) One reason for the retreat of professional historians from the writing of Colorado's railroad history is the sheer mass of work that has already been done on the subject by the non-professional community. While this work might not always be recognized by academia for its scholarly merit, it tends to deter the professionals from further examination of the subject. 127

PAGE 136

Yet the future holds new opportunities for work by historians from both camps. Rai lr'oading in the 1990s has taken on new directions in Colorado, and the chroniclers of narrow gauge steam and post-war diesel railroads must prepare to write a whole new history. After carving its name indelibly on Colorado's past, the Denver & Rio Grande has joined dozens of other fabled railroads in extinction. Absorbed first by the Southern Pacific, then the Union Pacific, William Palmer's "Baby Road" is gone. In Denver, the appearance of Light Rail will change the city and its suburbs. Will it be just another transit system, or will the rails bind the hodge-podge of Denver's urban sprawl into a unified political entity? Can a rail system lead to a Metropolitan Council which has eluded city planners for decades? How will the history of Colorado railroading in the twenty-first century be written? More importantly, who will write it? Perhaps the second question will provide an answer for the first. If the professional historians continue to abdicate railroad history to the buffs, then we might well expect a history of the Light Rail, for example, to focus on cars and tracks and pantographs; 128

PAGE 137

but if academia takes the advice of Edward Linenthal and seizes the opportunity to help interpret that history, then a broader picture might be painted. In the end, a cooperative effort between these two highly qualified ranks of historians could produce a splendid account of this continuing chapter in Colorado's history. Carpe diem.-129

PAGE 138

CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION This thesis has examined the work of a handful of the thousands of people who are keeping Colorados railroad heritage alive. They are people drawn from a diverse set of backgrounds. Dozens are professional Ph.D. historians and thousands are simply rail enthusiasts who could not sleep at night knowing that our railroad past might be forever lost. Between the professional historians and the amateur "buffs" there exists a group of researchers, curators, and librarians whose day-to-day work is to preserve mountains of information so professionals and amateurs alike can pursue their studies. The State Historical Society has done so much to help preserve both the records and artifacts of Colorado railroading that a chapter on their efforts would be well deserved, but they could not be classed as amateur historians. As operators of the Georgetown Loop Railroad, they have gone way beyond the dusty archival duties one might have presumed. In addition to the 130

PAGE 139

Georgetown Loop, the state of Colorado has combined forces with New Mexico to keep steam up on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, as it runs between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. At the Denver Public Library, the death of Agostino Mastrogiuseppe in December, 1996 was a loss deeply felt by Colorado rail historians. As curator of the Western History Department's superb collection of photographs, he had initiated a project to photodigitize tens-of-thousands of photographs, including thousands from the railroad collection. That work continues, and the library remains one of the finest research facilities in the West. Many of Colorado's railroad preservationists are motivated, in part, by the lure of profit. That they are able to make money while helping to keep our rail heritage alive has never been a point of contention for railroad enthusiasts. Colorado's most famous narrow gauge railroad, the Durango & Silverton, has been in private hands for more than two decades, and has been the center of faithful and loving preservation during that entire tenure. In addition to these more grandiose operations, bits and pieces of our rail heritage can be found 131

PAGE 140

scattered in unlikely settings across Colorado. Hundreds of railroad buildings (mostly depots) have been preserved in communities all over the state. Many towns have steam locomotives and rolling stock on static display. Thousands of people feel a need to protect our railroad heritage. Those covered in this study were chosen because of the importance of their work, the fact that they are excellent examples of the kind of preservation that goes on across the state, and the often unique nature of their contributions to the study of railroad history. They are a quiet group of people who have dedicated tremendous amounts of time, energy, and personal funds to help keep the memory of Colorado railroading alive. 132

PAGE 141

NOTES CHAPTER 2 --------1. Robert W. Richardson, Sundance Books, 1995), p. 427. 2. Ibid. (Denver: 3. Mallory Hope Ferrell, "The Colorado Railroad Museum," Feb. 1988, p. 25. 4. Robert W .. Richardson, Colorado Rail Annual No. 21. (Golden: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1994), p. 11. 5. Frolin Marek, "The Colorado Railroad Museum: Part 1," Winter, 1995, p. 38. 7. Charles Albi and Cornelius W. Hauck, RailrQ!!ds (Golden: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1989), p. 50. 8. Ferrell, "Colorado Railroad Museum", p. 27. 9. Marek, "Colorado Railroad Museum: Part 1", p. 38. 10. Richardson, p. 425. 11. Thomas M. Lell, "The Colorado Railroad Museum." 1QOmQ!ive July -August, 1993, p. 48. 12. ibid. 13. Bob Richardson, as quoted by Thomas Lell in "The Colorado Railroad Museum." p. 30. 133

PAGE 142

14. Ferrell, "Colorado Railroad Museum", p. 27. 15. William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Letter to John W. Terrill, Vice-president of the Colorado & Southern Railroad. Golden, Colorado, October 22, 1968. 16. William C. Jones, Letter to Al Rung, Vicepresident of public relations for the Burlington Northern Railroad. Golden, Colorado, July 31, 1970. 17. William C. Jones, Letter to William Thayer Tutt, President of the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway. Golden, Colorado, October 4, 1968. 18. William C. Jones, Letter to G.B. Aydelott, President of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Company. Golden, Colorado, October 3, 1969. 19. Charles Albi, Personal interview, Golden, Colorado July 16, 1996. 20. E.H. Bailey, President of the Union Pacific Railroad Co. Letter to William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Omaha, Nebraska, March 26, 1970. 21. Albi interview. 22. Ibid. 23. William C. Jones, Letter to B.A. Kiefhofer, Secretary to the Executive Committee of General American Transportation Corp. Golden, Colorado. December 8, 1971. 24. Bernard Kelly, "Where 'memories of steam' are stored." "Empire Magazine", Nov. 20, 1966. p.16. 25. Albi interview. 26. Ferrell, "Colorado Railroad Museum", p. 27. 27. Cornelius W. Hauck, Letter to William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Cincinnati, Ohio. August 19, 1967. 134

PAGE 143

28. Cornelius W. Hauck, Letter to Dr. James Arniell. Cincinnati, Ohio, August 20, 1967. 29. Cornelius W. Hauck, Open letter to the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Cincinnati, Ohio, September 30, 1968. 30. Ed Gerlits, member of the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. Letter to Jim Ehernberger, President of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. Denver, Colo., October 3, 1969. 31. Robert W. Richardson, Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, September 14, 1967. 32. Cornelius W. Hauck, Letter to Robert Richardson. Cincinnati, Ohio, September 16, 1967. 33. Cornelius W. Hauck, Letter to Robert Richardson. Cincinnati, Ohio, September 27, 1967. 34. Robert W. Richardson, Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, October 12, 1967. 35. November 5, 1967. P. 26. 36. December 10, 1967. P. 68. 37. Cornelius W. Hauck, Letter to the Editor of the Denver Post. Cincinnati, Ohio, December 18, 1967. 38. Cornelius W. Hauck Open letter to newspaper editors and station managers in the Denver area. Cincinnati, Ohio, December 18, 1967. 39. Robert W. Richardson, Letter to Colorado State Senator Ed C. Johnson. Golden, Colorado, June 26, 1968. 40. Cornelius W. Hauck, Letter to Colorado Governor John Love. Cincinnati, Ohio, July 8, 1968. 41. Robert W. Richardson, Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, July 25, 1968. 42. Cornelius W. Hauck, Letter to Dr. James Arniell, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 20, 1967. 43. January 1, 1976. P. 30. 135

PAGE 144

44. Albi interview. 45. Ibid. 46. Ibid. 47. Robert W. Richardson, Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, February 23, 1967. 48. Dr. W. Del Walken, Superintendent Jefferson County Schools. Letter to William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Golden Colorado, January 6, 1967. 49. Albi interview. 50. Ibid. 51. Lell, "The Colorado Railroad Museum," p. 46. 52. Albi interview. 53. Ferrell, "Colorado Railroad Museum", p. 24. 54. Ed Gerlits, Letter to Jim Ehernberger, Oct, 1969. CHAPTER 3 -------1. Charles C. Squires, "Como, on the D,L & G", as quoted in M. C. Poor, f i.!.. (Denver: Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, 1976) p. 423. 2. Gordon S. Chappell, Cornelius W. Hauck, Robert W. Richardson, -Colorado Rail Annual No. 12. (Golden: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1974), p. 12. 3. "Colorado Place Names," July 1940, pp. 136 -137. 4. Mary Dyer, (Dillon: D&L Printing, Inc., 1974), p. 46. 136

PAGE 145

7. March 29, 1935, as cited in Kazel, William G., Kazel, Greg W. (Jan. 19 9 3 ) 8. United States Dept. of the Interior, National Parks Service, National Register of Historic Places Inventory and Nomination Form, 20 May 1983. 9. Kazel, William G., owner of Como roundhouse. Personal Interview, 5 March 1995. 11. Kazel, William G., owner of Como roundhouse. Personal Interview, 5 March, 1995. (All further references are this interview unless otherwise cited.) 12. Kazel, William G. Telephone interview, 24 July, 1997. 13. Hartmann, James E., Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. Letter to Stephen H. Hart, State Historic Officer Emeritus. Denver, Feb. 17, 1983. 14. Kazel interview, 5 March, 1995. 15. National Register of Historic Places Inventory and Nomination Form, 20. CHAPTER 4 --------MODEL RAILROADERS 1. Al Kalmach, as quoted by Russ Larson, "Al Kalmbach's Legacy," January, 1994, p. 79. 2. John Robinson. All further quotations in this paper are from the same interview, conducted in Denver, Colo, on March 25, 1996. 137

PAGE 146

3. Pete Wicklund, "Understanding scale and gauge," Model Railroader, 1995, p. 122. 4. Job Luning Park, "The NMRA surveys the hobby," 1 May 1996, p. 96. 5. Duncan Harvey. All further quotations in this paper are from the same interview, conducted in Denver, Colo, on March 23, 1996. 6. Bob Boorman. All further quotations in this paper are from the same interview, conducted in Denver, Colo, on March 22, 1996. 7. Park, May, 1996, p. 97. 8. Duncan Harvey. 9. May 1996, p. 96. 10. Ibid. 11. Dale Evans. All further quotations in this paper are from the same interview, conducted in Denver, Colo, on March 2, 1996. 12. Curt Nielsen. All further quotations in this paper are from the same interview, conducted in Denver, Colo, on March 19, 1996. 13. Cris Park. All further quotatiQns in this paper are from the same interview, conducted in Denver, Colo, on March 23, 1996. 14. Randy Rieck. All further quotations in this paper are from the same interview, conducted in Denver, Colo, on March 26, 1996. 15. Randall Rieck, "The Eldora & Lost Lake RR," February, 1997, p. 101. 16. Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg, Berkley, Calif: Howell-North Press, 1958. p. 114. 17. Robert G. Athearn, History New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1962. p.11. 138

PAGE 147

18. Hilton, George Woodman. Railroads, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990. CHAPTER 5 -------HISTORY WITH A PASSION: -----------------IN WRITING COLORADO RAILROAD HISTORY --------------------------------1. Duane A. Smith, Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1967. p. 139. 2. George G. Everett, Denver: Golden Bell Press, 1966. p. 20. 3. David C .. Nelson, "Historical Background of Transportation in the Trans-Missouri West", in ed. Jack R. Davidson and Howard W. Ottoson (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967) p. 4. 4. Duane A. Smith, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1980) p. 5. 5. Ibid. 6. Thomas J. Noel, Paul F. Mahoney, Richard E. Stevens, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993) p. 28. 7. John Ciardi, (New York: Harper & Row, PublisHers, 1980) pp. 44 -45. 8. Dr. J. Noel, Professor of History, University of Colorado at Denver. Personal interview, November 16, 1996. 139

PAGE 148

9. While the library building is complete, as of this writing, the collection is yet to be moved in. Moving the collection that has been stored in the museum's basement should be finished by the end of the summer of 1997. The huge task of cataloguing the mountain of documents stored in box cars around the site will take much longer. 10. Robert G. Athearn, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1962) p. 215. 11. Ibid., p. 111 12. Gordon S. Chappell, Cornelius W. Hauck, Robert W. Richardson. The South Park Line: A Concise -Colorado Rail Annual No. 12. (Golden: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1974) P. 70. 13. M.C. Poor, Memorial Edition, (Denver: Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, 1976). First published 1949. 14. Donovan L. Hofsommer, Review of by Gordon S. Chappell, Cornelius W. Hauck and Robert W. Richardson, Summer, 1976. 15. Noel interview, November 16, 1996. 16. 0. Meredith Wilson, (Salt Lake City: Howe Brothers, Publishers, 1981) p. 114. 17. McKee, Ted S, in by Leland Peitz. (Colorado Springs: Little London Press, 1968) p. 1. 18. David Thelen, "The Practice of American History." Vol. 81, (December, 1994) p. 933. 19. Ibid., P. 943. 20. Ibid. 140

PAGE 149

21. Ibid., p. 940. 22. Edward T. Linenthal, "Committing History in Pub 1 i c :!:h.!LJ ou f i s !..Q!::Y V o 1 81 (December, 1994) p. 986. 23. Ibid. 24. Noel interview, November 16, 1996. ---. 25. George Woodman Hilton, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990) 26. John E. Robinson, Denver, Colorado. Interview, March 25, 1996. 27. Ibid. 28. Noel interview, November 16, 1996. 29. Alan Brinkley, "Historians and their Public."' Hi.!.Q!::Y Vol. 81, (December, 1994). p. 1028. 30. Noel interview, November 16, 1996. 31. Edward T. Linenthal, "Committing History in Public." Vol. 81, #3 (December, 1994) p. 986. 141

PAGE 150

BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS Albi, Charles and Cornelius W. Hauck, ang the Colorado Railroad Museum. Golden: Colorado ----------------------------Railroad Museum, 1989. 64 pages. Photographs, charts. Athearn, Robert G., New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1962. 395 pages. Photographs, maps, index, bibliography, footnotes. Beebe, Lucius and Charles Clegg. Berkley, Calif: Howell-North Press, 1958. 224 pages. Photographs, maps, drawings. Bryant Keith L J r New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1974. 376 pages. Photographs, maps, charts, bibliographical essay, index, end notes. Chappell, Gordon S., Cornelius W. Hauck, Robert W. Ric bards on -Colorado Rail Annual No. 12. Golden: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1974, Second Printing -1979, 280 pp. photographs, maps, bib., index. Dyer, Dillon: D&L Printing, Inc., 1974, 118 Pp. Photographs. Everett, George G., Denver: Golden Bell Press, 1966. 255 pp., photographs. Peitz, Leland. Springs: Little London Press, 1968. photographs. 142 Colorado 30 pages,

PAGE 151

Ferrell, Mallory Hope. Boulder: Pruett Publishing Company, 1981, photos, maps, bib., index. Ferrel, Mallory Hope. Unigue Boulder: Pruett Publishing Company, 1970, 112 pp., photos, maps, index. Hilton, George Woodman. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990. 580 pages. Illus., maps, bib., index. Poor, M.C. (Memorial Edition) Denver: Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, 1976, First published 1949, 473 Pp. photographs, maps, bib. ,index. Richardson, Robert W., Denver: Sundance Books, 1995. 431 pages. Photographs. Richardson, Robert W., --Colorado Rail Annual No. 21. Golden: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1994. 303 pages. Photographs. Sibert, Ed and Ted McKee, Boulder: Pruett Publishing Co., 1982. 186 pages. Photographs, maps, index. Speas, Sam (as told to Margaret Coel). the -Boulder: Pruett Publishing Company, 1985. 264pp. Photographs, map, index, bibliography, notes. Wilkins, Trivis. Boulder: Pruett Publishing Company, 1974. 305 pp., photographs, maps, bib., index. Wilson, 0. Meredith. The Salt Lake City: Howe Brothers, Publishers, 1981. 114 pp., photographs, maps, index. MAGAZINE AND JOURNAL ARTICLES -----------------------------Brinkley, Alan. "Historians and their Public."' The Vol. 81, #3 (December, 1994). Pages 1027-1030. 143

PAGE 152

Cassity, Michael. "History and the Public Purpose." Vol. 81, #3 (December, 1994). Pages 969-976. "Colorado Place Names," Vol.XVII No.4 (July 1940) Ferrell, Mallory Hope. "The Colorado Railroad Museum." Feb. 1988, Vol. 48, Number 4. Larson, Russ, "Al Kalmbach's Legacy," January, 1994 . Lell, Thomas M. "The Colorado Railroad Museum." July -August, 1993, Issue 42. Pages 28 -32. Linenthal, Edward T. "Committing History in Public." Vol. 81, #3 (December, 1994). Pages 986-991. Marek, Fralin. "The Colorado Railroad Museum: Part 1." Winter, 1995, Vol. 6, Number 4. Pages 36 -41. Marek, Fralin. "The Colorado Railroad Museum: Part 2." Spring, 1996, Vol. 7, Number 1. Pages 40 -43. Prak, Job Luning, "The NMRA Surveys the Hobby," May, 1996. Westford, Mass: The Railroad Historical Society, Inc. Pages 11 -13. Rieck, Randall. "The Eldora & Lost Lake RR," February, 1997. Thelen, David. "The Practice of American History." Vol. 81, #3 (December, 1994). Pages 933-960. Wicklund, Pete, "Understanding scale and gauge," January 1995. 144

PAGE 153

-INTERVIEWS -------Albi, Charles, executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, Colorado. Personal -interview, July 16, 1996. Boorman, Robert H. Aurora, Colorado. Interview March 22 1996. Evans, Dale. Lakewood, Colorado. Interview March 2, 1996. Harvey, Duncan. Littleton, Colorado. Interview March 23, 1996. Kazel, William Como Roundhouse Preservation, Inc., Golden, Colorado, personal interview, 5 March 1995. Kazel, William G., Como Roundhouse Preservation, Inc., Lakewood, Colorado, phone interview, 25 July, 1997. Nielsen, Kurt. Aurora, Colorado. Interview March 19, 1996. Noel, Thomas J. Professor of History, University of Colorado at Denver. Personal interview, November 16, 1996. Park, Cris. Littleton, Colorado. Interview March 23, 1996. Rieck, Randall C. Englewood, Colorado. Interview March 26, 1996. Robinson, John E. Denver, Colorado. Interview March 25, 1996. NEWSPAPERS Kelly, Bernard. "Where memories of steam are stored." "Empire Magazine", Nov. 20, 1966. November 5, 1967. P. 26. 145

PAGE 154

Ihe December 10, 1967. P. 68. February 23, 1973. P. 3. The Denver Post. January 1, 1976. P. 30. LETTERS ------Bailey, E.H., president of the Union Pacific Railroad Co. Letter to William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Omaha, Nebraska, March 26, 1970. Del Walken, Dr. W., Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools. Letter to William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Golden, Colorado, January 6, 1967. Gerlits, Ed, member of the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. Letter to Jim Ehernberger, President of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. Denver, Colorado, October 3, 1969. Hartmann, James E. Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. Letter to Stephen H. Hart, State Historic Officer Emeritus. Denver, Feb. 17, 1983. Hauck, Cornelius W. Open letter to the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Railroad :Historical Foundation. Cincinnati, Ohio, February 9, 1967. Hauck, Cornelius W. Letter to Robert Richardson. Cincinnati, Ohio, September 16, 1967. Hauck, Corne 1 ius W. Letter to Robert Richardson. Cincinnati, Ohio, September 27, 1967. Hauck, Cornelius W. Letter to William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Cincinnati, Ohio. August 19, 1967. Hauck, Cornelius W. Letter to Dr. James Arniell. Cincinnati, Ohio, August 20, 1967. 146

PAGE 155

Hatick, Cornelius W. Letter to the Editor of the Denver Post. Cincinnati, Ohio, December 18, 1967. Hauck, Cornelius W. Open letter to newspaper editors and station managers in the Denver area. Cincinnati, Ohio, December 18, 1967. Hauck, Cornelius W. Open letter to the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Cincinnati, Ohio, June 9, 1968. Hauck, Cornelius W. Open letter to the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Cincinnati, Ohio, September 30, 1968. Hauck, W. Letter to Colorado Governor John Love. Cincinnati, Ohio, July 8, 1968. Hill, Ronald C., member of the Board of Trustees for the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Letter to E.H. Bailey, president of the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Golden, Colorado, SeP.tember 14, 1971. Hill, Ronald C. Letter to E.H. Bailey, Golden, Colorado, March 16, 1970. Jones, William C., President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Letter to William Thayer Tutt, President of the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway. Golden, Colorado, October 4, 1968. Jones, William C. Letter to John W. Terrill, Vice president of the Colorado & Southern Railroad. Golden, Colorado, October 22, 1968. Jones, William C. Letter to G.B. Aydelott, President of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Company. Golden, Colorado, October 3, 1969. Jones, William Letter to B.A. Kiefhofer, American Transportation Corp. Golden, December 8, 1971. General Colorado. Jones, William C. Letter to Al Rung, Vice-president of public relations for the Burlington Northern Railroad. Golden, Colorado, July 31, 1970. 147

PAGE 156

Jones, William C. Letter to John W. Terrill, Golden, Colorado, September 20, 1970. B.A. Kiefhofer, General American Transportation Corp. Letter Jones, William Chicago, Illinois. November 12, 1971. Petrillo, Tony, Coordinator of Social Studies for Jefferson County Schools. Letter to William C. Jones, President of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation. Denver, Colorado, March 10, 1967. Richardson, Robert W. Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, February 23, 1967. Richardson, Robert W. Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, September 14, 1967. Richardson, Robert W. Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, October 12, 1967. Richardson, Robert W. Letter to Colorado State Senator Ed C. Johnson. Golden, Colorado, June 26, 1968. Richardson, Robert W. Letter to Cornelius Hauck. Golden, Colorado, July 25, 1968. Smithsonian Institution. Letter to Robert W. Richardson, Washington, D.C., September 3, 1982. OTHER ----Timetable, Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad, 1880, Reprinted by the Colorado railroad Museum, 1980. United States Dept. of the Interior, National Parks Service, National Register of Historic Places Inventory and Nomination Form, 20 May 1983. Kazel, William G. ,Kazel, Greg W. (Jan. 1993) 4-page pamphlet with chronology, map, and diagrams. 148