On our day off we had tickets to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad up in Georgetown CO. Its been a couple of years since I have ridden this train and I'm always impressed by the constant improvement of the facilities every time I go. The train was handled by the #9 Class C Shay that day. I think that it has been converted to an oil burner from a coal burner since the last time I rode behind it. Probably for the best considering how dry the summers can be here.
A Shay locomotive is a geared engine rather than your more standard rod engine. The Class C is the biggest of this type and features three trucks and three pistons. With this type of locomotive you can see the big gears on the wheels which means that all the wheels are providing traction on the rails so they can pull heavy loads up very steep grades (as high as 14 percent) but at slow speeds. Its just about perfect for the Loop.
The line runs between Georgetown and Silver Plume. The distance between the two is pretty short and the change in elevation is significant enough that in a straight line an engine wouldn't be able to climb the mountain. Instead they built the loop, letting the track loop back on itself in order to gain enough distance to lower the grade to a mere 4%. It increased the run from 3 miles to 7 miles which makes for a very nice little ride for the tourists!
I first road this train in the '75 or '76. At that time the track had been finished to the abutments of the High Bridge and finished to Silver Plume. We crossed the river on a small wooden bridge and climbed the embankment up to the tracks. At that time they didn't think they would ever be able to afford to rebuild the High Bridge estimated to cost 1.5 million back in the 70s. In '83 or '84 the Boettcher Foundation came through and funded building the bridge and you can enjoy a complete ride over the loop today.
A few pictures of the day:
|Watching #9 (an ex-Westside lumber company Shay) bringing down the first load of passengers from Silver Plume (you can choose which end of the line you want to start from), over the High Bridge.|
|The center span of the High Bridge, which crosses Clear Creek, is known as the Devil's Gate Viaduct.|
|Clear Creek right by the station|
|A better look at #9|
|Going under the High Bridge|
|Going over the High Bridge! Looking to the east towards Georgetown|
|Looking west towards Silver Plume|
|The Lebanon Gold Mine. You can stop and take a mine tour and even pan for gold here.|
|Looking back to the east, you can tell the engine is working hard upgrade with the black smoke.|
|Clear Creek, dropping fast as we approach Silver Plume. Silver Plume itself is on the other side of the highway.|
|Some more parlor cars|
|The engine house. They seemed to have acquired a large number of diesel engines that are in various states of assembly at this point. I didn't have time to get out and see if #12, the rod engine, was in the engine house for service.|
|Looking north towards Silver Plume. If you look you can still see the mine tailings from at least 7 silver mines in the area.|
|Silver Plume station, this is the original station built by the Colorado Central, the original builder of the line. Eventually the Colorado Central would become part of the Colorado & Southern RR.|
|Leaving the station to go back to Georgetown|
|Houses on the hill. They look they have seen a number of addition over the years.|
|We have stopped at the Lebanon mine to let the tour group off. The car I was riding in was right on the bridge. This is Clear Creek looking to the west.|
|This is Clear Creek passing under my feet|
|And Clear Creek looking to the east.|
|The turns are sharp enough that sometimes I could catch the engine swinging out in front of the train. I should have been sitting farther back this time.|
|Arriving back at the bottom, with the High Bridge in the distance.|
|Spotted by red Jeep ('98 TJ) in the parking lot.|