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Tennessee Pass Line Reactivation

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Tennessee Pass Line Reactivation
Posted by rjemery on Saturday, January 9, 2021 11:49 PM

In Colorado, I read where Rio Grande Pacific reaches agreement with UP to lease Tennessee Pass line. This would be the ex-D&RGW line that ran between Pueblo and the Moffat Route near Vail.

1) Even though I doubt any trains has traversed this route in a very long while, I wish to know if the rail and ties still exist along the route.

2) Naturally, the track would have to be refurbrished if not replaced and signalling would need to be updated.  The article stated passenger service would be evaluated.  If passenger service were to be initaited, that would imply the installation of PTC, driving up costs.

3) Does the original depot building in Buena Vista still stand?  If so, does anyone know of its present use?

RJ Emery near Santa Fe, NM

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Sunday, January 10, 2021 1:40 AM

The track is extant. The welded rail is good (Union Pacific early on wanted to abandon the route and relay the rail elsewhere), but significant work otherwise would be necessary after nearly a quarter century of minimal attention.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, January 10, 2021 8:45 AM

What are the realistic odds of this track ever seeing a through train? Apparently in the original filing the expected annual revenues were less than $5 million. I wonder what the potential carload traffic is to get to the shortline rule of thumb of 100 carloads per mile of track?

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Posted by bedell on Sunday, January 10, 2021 9:30 AM

Pueblo to Canon City - Tracks good - Tie replacement work about two years ago

Canon City to Parkdale - Tracks well maintained - used by Royal Gorge Route tourist operation and Martin Marietta stone trains form the Parkdale quarry

Parkdale west a few miles - car storage so track is passable

The rest of line west - rails in place, signals derelict and vandalized,  rocks and boulders between the rails,  brush etc. growing up

There is an old depot in a park in Buena Vista but I doubt it was the D & R G W

 

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, January 10, 2021 12:07 PM

     I just followed this line from Parksdale to Leadville on Google Maps. It looks like the line was built for a lot of traffic at one point? There's quite a few long sidings and what looks like spurs for towns or mines that aren't there anymore?

      Isn't this the line that runs through Leadville and hosts the Leadville, Colorado & Southern tourist railroad? I've ridden on that. The route is steep and winding going north out of Leadville. It's hard to imagine heavy freight trains on that part of the line. When we were there about 10 years ago, it looked like the unused lines going south out of town were in pretty good shape.

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Posted by mudchicken on Sunday, January 10, 2021 12:23 PM

DRGW Buena Vista contemporary brick Depot is long gone. (Parking Lot)...Colorado Midland wooden depot still there in the city park along US-24, used as a small CMRY museum. (Stuffed and mounted caboose on the north side)

Massive boulder (size of a large SUV) sitting on the track west of Wolcott, there is a CDOT construction caused slide to clean up near Edwards.

Track is in very good shape, except for the weeds. It was ready to run trains in 2008 (almost did/ as dark territory - Moffat Tunnel was near capacity.) Snow has knocked down the weeds. A ballast regulator or jordan spreader could clean things up pretty quick to get going.

You could run at 60 with passenger trains without signals and the the mountain geometry won't allow over that in lots of places. Getting the signalled and gated crossings working will take some rehab effort)

There are going to be issues with local utilities placed (bootlegged) since the line was mothballed.

The Climax line has 1/2+ mile of the connection missing at the connection in Leadville, but that really isn't UP's problem.

There remains an issue with a crossing for a development near Edwards, been to court once. Needs to go to federal court to resolve.

The dollar figures posted earlier in the thread are way off, just somebody's WAG on the high side.

The political knuckleheads in Salida are already trying to monkeywrench the process. (some skeletons in the town and county closet will certainly fall out)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by mudchicken on Sunday, January 10, 2021 12:35 PM

Murphy Siding

     I just followed this line from Parksdale to Leadville on Google Maps. It looks like the line was built for a lot of traffic at one point? There's quite a few long sidings and what looks like spurs for towns or mines that aren't there anymore?

      Isn't this the line that runs through Leadville and hosts the Leadville, Colorado & Southern tourist railroad? I've ridden on that. The route is steep and winding going north out of Leadville. It's hard to imagine heavy freight trains on that part of the line. When we were there about 10 years ago, it looked like the unused lines going south out of town were in pretty good shape.

 

Murphy: Not the same line. C&SN/LC&S connected at Leadville over  US-24. Removed forcibly by CDOT (rough x-ing beaten to death by overloaded trucks), but never abandoned. (not maintained after BN pulled-out, wasn't DRGW owned or maintained - The Moly mine has been threatening to reopen, but never quite got going in a big way. Trucking small quantities only.)

Ran an awful lot of trains through that TP line in the 80's from the MoP connection in Pueblo (my introduction to Tunnel Motors). After UP got control of the MoP and later the SP/DRGW, traffic fell off the table. DRGW was VERY good at hustling short fast trains through the rockies instead of around them. They competed hard with UP, ATSF, BN and SP as a bridge operator, depending on origin/destination.

Lots of old branches to hard mineral, coal, rock and gilsonite mines all through that country that played-out before 1960. (Look up the Monarch Branch that hauled hematite for CF&I until that operation quit in the 1980's)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, January 10, 2021 5:50 PM

Thanks MC. I just took a long Google maps tour to places I've read about but never been to, like Minturn and Dotsero. I always forget how arid Colorado is until I look at satellite images.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, January 10, 2021 9:54 PM

Google Earth shows in addition to other problems noted, there are large rocks on the tracks south of Minturn near Belden.  Also the Belden siding has rock slides, but mostly the siding is covered by a roadway in the old Gilman mine loading area.

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Posted by MP173 on Monday, January 11, 2021 11:25 AM

The wife and I were in Colorado a couple of years ago and I explored the line somewhat.

The line south of Leadville does appear to be in decent condition...the rail is in place and no real vegetation growing between rails.  The ballast and signals were still in place, giving a very strange vibe.  Very sad.

We stayed in Saluda and walked around the site of the old yard.  The line east toward Pueblo is in very good shape and was in use at that time.

The drive up to Leadville from Minturn was spectacular but I kept both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.  Would love to spend a day aroudn the tunnel area exploring.

If trains run on that line again, I will venture west from Indiana to watch.

Ed

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Monday, January 11, 2021 12:30 PM

I thought I read somewhere where the YouPee was running a speeder over the line a few times a years just to make sure the line doesn't get cut as a through route.

Can anyone verify this?

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, January 11, 2021 1:56 PM

high railed about every 8-10 weeks, largely for FRA purposes in case they had to open it up for any reason (keep the paper trail intact / note where 213 defects are - but do not necessarily remediate any exceptions found) - Second purpose was to keep the scofflaws at bay (primarilly utilities, drainage and road maintenance activity by the locals - but you also had the Christo (event art) freak show up in there)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Overmod on Monday, January 11, 2021 10:25 PM

MP173
We stayed in Saluda and walked around the site of the old yard.

Saluda is in North Carolina.  I think you mean Salida.

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 4:21 AM

Overmod

 MP173

We stayed in Saluda and walked around the site of the old yard.

 

Saluda is in North Carolina.  I think you mean Salida.

 

 

ConfusedAnd Sedalia is between Colorado Springs and Denver on the Joint Line. (Corned Fusion)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 8:11 AM

Note:  To Muddy Feathers:

"...  Huh?  And Sedalia is between Colorado Springs and Denver on the Joint Line. (Corned Fusion)..."

OopsWhen was it moved out of the State of Missery?Crying   

 

 


 

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 8:53 AM

Ah, yes, Sedalia.  The town where Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag first became famous.

 

FMC

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Posted by grvtrains on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 10:36 AM

Hello!

why was this particular line chosen for reactivation? Which factors played an important role in pulling it out of hibernation? Are there some set of measures which are implemented to ensure a successful reopening/reactivation of a railway line?

I am researching about successfully reactivated railway tracks and trying to figure out the boundary conditions for such tracks (viz. inactive duration, track condition, route length, demand, reason for closure, etc) and measures implemented to ensure its reactivation and sustainable operations ahead. Any help or lead would be greatly appreciated!

Sincerely

Gaurav

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 1:35 PM

And where 25 Berkshires were converted into high-steppin' Northerns:

https://www.steamlocomotive.com/locobase.php?country=USA&wheel=4-8-4&railroad=mp

 

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Posted by Falcon48 on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 1:51 PM

Fred M Cain

Ah, yes, Sedalia.  The town where Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag first became famous.

 

FMC

 

Possibly this was meant as a joke.  But the "Sedalia" of Scott Joplin fame is in Missouri, not on the joint line. 

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Posted by NielsenSLC on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 8:01 PM

Can't see how this would be, in recent years, with the significant rock falls damaging the track and cutting the rail.  I thought I'd also seen images of rail paved over at some road crossings around Minturn.  Not sure on that...

 

Mark 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 8:22 PM

grvtrains
why was this particular line chosen for reactivation? Which factors played an important role in pulling it out of hibernation? Are there some set of measures which are implemented to ensure a successful reopening/reactivation of a railway line?

The guy from the Colorado Pacific was a real estate heir who got into the ag business.  He acquired another near abandoned rail line on the Colorado plains east of Pueblo to preserve service to haul his grain.  I guess he figure that if he could run a railroad in the flatlands, what would be the problem in running the higest mountain rail line in the country over the steepest grades.  He forced the sale of the other rail line, and he also tried to force the sale of the Tenn Pass line at a bargan basement price.  Plus, I am skeptical of a real estate man buying abandoned rail property in Colorado resort country.  The Minturn yard alone, where Vail wants to build a new ski base village, probably would be worth the few million he was offering for the entire rail line.

The Rio Grande Pacific group I believe is associated with the group proposing to build a new rail line into the Uinta Basin of Utah, and I guess the TP line would give them a shortcut to the Gulf for their oil trains.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 8:43 PM

MidlandMike

 

 
grvtrains
why was this particular line chosen for reactivation? Which factors played an important role in pulling it out of hibernation? Are there some set of measures which are implemented to ensure a successful reopening/reactivation of a railway line?

 

The guy from the Colorado Pacific was a real estate heir who got into the ag business.  He acquired another near abandoned rail line on the Colorado plains east of Pueblo to preserve service to haul his grain.  I guess he figure that if he could run a railroad in the flatlands, what would be the problem in running the higest mountain rail line in the country over the steepest grades.  He forced the sale of the other rail line, and he also tried to force the sale of the Tenn Pass line at a bargan basement price.  Plus, I am skeptical of a real estate man buying abandoned rail property in Colorado resort country.  The Minturn yard alone, where Vail wants to build a new ski base village, probably would be worth the few million he was offering for the entire rail line.

The Rio Grande Pacific group I believe is associated with the group proposing to build a new rail line into the Uinta Basin of Utah, and I guess the TP line would give them a shortcut to the Gulf for their oil trains.

 

He's got a link to a petition against Rio Grande Pacific on another site.

Jeff

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Posted by samfp1943 on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 10:41 PM

grvtrains

Hello!

why was this particular line chosen for reactivation? Which factors played an important role in pulling it out of hibernation? Are there some set of measures which are implemented to ensure a successful reopening/reactivation of a railway line?

I am researching about successfully reactivated railway tracks and trying to figure out the boundary conditions for such tracks (viz. inactive duration, track condition, route length, demand, reason for closure, etc) and measures implemented to ensure its reactivation and sustainable operations ahead. Any help or lead would be greatly appreciated!

Sincerely

Gaurav 

   First of all, Gaurav:  Welcome 

    IT seems that you have picked a couple of topics on this FORUM that have been discussed topics over some time (Years,even ?)  

 1.) Saluda Grade on the Easter Slope of the mountains of North Carolina. Has been a long runnibng favorite here.

2.) Tennessee Pass in the Colorado Rockies.  another topic of favor, and one that in recent months has been a subject of interest.

  I would sugest that yoiyu utilize the Forum's Community Search feature to research both areas of interest.

 Even though Saluda Grade has had some interest, my guess, is that as a through route, it is sort of doomed due to various land movements on its ROW; [Read to re-create the through route, it will take a ton of money to mitigate various colapses of the ROW.]

MudChicken's comments on the current state of Tennessee Pass are 'informed', and timely.  Seems that its 'status' is subject to the legal rule of lawyer v. lawyer and whichever court will rule on the matter's litigation(s)  ?  

 

 


 

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Posted by Falcon48 on Friday, January 15, 2021 1:58 PM

The "court" that will rule on this is the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (a Federal regulatory agency).  The choice is between a transction that the current owner (UP) is willing to make (with RGP) and a transaction the current owner doesn't want to make (with Colorado Pacific).  Given the existing regulatory statutes and STB's longstanding policies, the odds on favorite is the RGP transaction (particularly since STB turned down CP's earlier proposal).

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Posted by GERALD L MCFARLANE JR on Friday, January 15, 2021 2:54 PM

Falcon48
The "court" that will rule on this is the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (a Federal regulatory agency).  The choice is between a transction that the current owner (UP) is willing to make (with RGP) and a transaction the current owner doesn't want to make (with Colorado Pacific).  Given the existing regulatory statutes and STB's longstanding policies, the odds on favorite is the RGP transaction (particularly since STB turned down CP's earlier proposal).

Technically this is US government not in action as the STB should've dismissed CP's second claim and filing the minute that UP/RGP announced an agreement.  CP has no statutory basis for their claim now.

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Posted by Falcon48 on Friday, January 15, 2021 7:52 PM

GERALD L MCFARLANE JR

That's essentially what's likely to happen.  The only transaction that's on STB's table right now is the RGP transaction.  Unless I've missed something, there's no competing tyransaction from CP currently before STB.  CP's prior "forced sale" transaction was previously dismissed by STB and has never been refiled.  CP is just whining about the RGP transaction.  Probably not a winning strategy.      

 
Falcon48
The "court" that will rule on this is the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (a Federal regulatory agency).  The choice is between a transction that the current owner (UP) is willing to make (with RGP) and a transaction the current owner doesn't want to make (with Colorado Pacific).  Given the existing regulatory statutes and STB's longstanding policies, the odds on favorite is the RGP transaction (particularly since STB turned down CP's earlier proposal).

 

Technically this is US government not in action as the STB should've dismissed CP's second claim and filing the minute that UP/RGP announced an agreement.  CP has no statutory basis for their claim now.

 

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Posted by Falcon48 on Friday, January 15, 2021 7:54 PM

That's essentially what's likely to happen.  The only transaction that's on STB's table right now is the RGP transaction.  Unless I've missed something, there's no competing transaction from CP currently before STB.  CP's prior "forced sale" transaction was previously dismissed by STB and has never been refiled.  CP is just whining about the RGP transaction.  Probably not a winning strategy.      

 
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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, January 18, 2021 7:09 PM

My understanding is that RG Pacific was associated with the Uintah Basin oil field projected rail line.  In today's NewsWire article about local opposition to reopening the TP line they said:

A railroad representative told the newspaper that Colorado, Midland & Pacific “has no plan, no intention, and no means to operate oil trains” on the route.

 

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2021/01/18-digest-colorado-town-will-help-fund-legal-challenge-to-tennessee-pass-revival

 

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 12:42 AM

Uintah Basin/ Seven County Infrastructure Coalition Filing #300676 from FD-36284 (5/29/20)

"While the Uinta Basin Railway will primarily be used to ship crude oil and fracking sand, shipments are also expected to include agricultural products, pipe, oilfield tubular steel products, building products, industrial materials, and other bulk commodities.24 Fracking sand and crude oil are expected to be shipped in unit trains, while other goods would be shipped in manifest carloads added to crude oil or fracking sand unit trains.25 Separate manifest trains are not expected to be operated on the Uinta Basin Railway.26"


Have not seen anywhere (so far) in the CM&P filings (FD-36471) anything stating a similar idea. The linking came from who?

 

Regardless, as Falcon48 has already hinted at, good luck when the local NIMBY's encounter the Federal Exemption. That won't end well. The real estate developer money will continue to flow under the table to fuel the nonsense that already includes the MagLev ski train, massive animal overpasses and the cut & cover tunnel for I-70 through Vail,  and Avon. CDOT is already broke and witless in the railroad arena - this just adds to the list if it gets any traction. Maybe Vail & Avon/Beaver Creek might yet someday wake-up and smell the coffee? (reality is optional up there, political backlash coming when local government wastes $$$ on a lost cause?)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Boyd on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 1:13 AM

Just imagine The BigBoy making a trip through this line. 

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

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