Friday, October 16, 2009

Georgetown Loop Railroad.


Just south of us in the historic mining town of Georgetown, Colorado, is a restored narrow-gauge rail line. Through membership in the Colorado Historical Society, we've booked tickets on the ride for tomorrow.

I spent my childhood in Oakland, California, where my father was a fireman on switch engine steam locomotives--Southern Pacific, prior to its move to all-diesel in the early 1950s. I have great memories of graveyard-shift nights going to work with him, even "helping" to shovel coal. But this is my first contact with a working narrow-gauge setup. It'll be great fun to see the locomotive, which I suspect is much smaller than what's in my mind's eye.

I can hardly wait to see the right-of-way.
1879: Georgetown becomes the "Silver Queen of Colorado" for only a short time that year when news of large silver strikes spread across the region from Leadville, one of the greatest strikes to date. Gould strives to have the Colorado Central be the first railline to reach Leadville. The track to reach Leadville from Georgetown is an obstacle due to narrowing of the valley west of the city and an area where the average grade is over 6 percent (too steep for most trains). UP chief engineer, Jacob Blickensderfer, devises a system of curves and bridges, reducing the average grade to 3 percent. The plan includes three hairpin turns, four bridges and a 30-degree horseshoe curve from Georgetown to Silver Plume.
from the History page of the website
A 3-percent grade, the maximum a narrow-gauge locomotive could pull, produces a gain in elevation of three feet for every hundred feet of linear distance, or about 316 feet in two miles. This rail gains something over 600 feet in the same distance. I'll enjoy seeing the engineering required to do that.



p.s. It wasn't quite all it billed itself as.

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