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Railroad Obstacles

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Railroads followed gorges and passes that Nature had carved through the mountain ranges, leading often to long and round-about routes.  In the "early days" some distances were described as "by the crow or eagle", but later it was to that of the Airplane.  So, the airline distance from Denver to Leadville, fo example, is 75 miles, but by the shortest railroad route covered 151 miles.  From Aspen to Leadville it is 30 miles apart by air, but a the one time it took 131 miles of railroad track to connect them.  Progress.


Such problems for the town of Adams, Bolder, Jefferson, Grand, Routt, Gilpin, Eagle and other Denver counties were solved by the Muffet Tunnel between Denver and Gilpin.


The plan called for a pioneer bore, 8 feet high and 9 feet wide, basically to provide advance information about conditions and access to the main tunnel, as it advanced.  There were some discouraging results with soft ground requiring necessitating costly reinforcements.  Water seepage exceeded expectations, as a lower level found a fissure, which was drainage from Lower Crater Lake.


It was the hope that the tunnel could be completed by 1926 in conjunction with Colorado's 50th Anniversary to Statehood, but only by Feb 1927 did the teams operating from East and West, joined together the "bore", and not until a year later was the tunnel completed.   The initial estimate of cost was set at $7,000,000, but ran a total of $18,000,000, with 29 fatalities.  It is 24 feet in height, 16 feet wide, and 6 and 2/10th miles long.   Really an undertaking for that period.


The distance between Denver and Grand Junction was reduced by 175 miles via Muffet Tunnel.


There are a goodly number of tunnel throughout the country which help to aid in the transportation system for both railroads and automobiles.    But this is one of which is part of a book solely based on the history of Colorado.


Hope you  enjoy.  

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There has been some effort to plan and then reconnect some of the old narrow gauge railroad right of ways. 


But the big problem is where trains once ran, rubber tires now travel.  


I doubt  the re-connections will ever be made except in a very minor way where conditions were too rough for roads but not for trains.


While many locomotives have been restored, many of the Railway cars were burned to make collecting and scraping the metal easier. 



I looked at a 3 foot passenger car with old wood so rotten you could push a pencil through it.  It had been saved from the fires.


The man restoring it was removing the metal, to make copies, replacing and using new wood and new metal parts to build a new car. 


So it can be done.  He died a while back and the old car is now in an indoor museum on the coast in Washington State. 


Where the new car went  (It was almost finished)  is unknown to me. 



Yea !  Colorado is a great place to see Steam pulling passenger trains again. 

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  • 3 months later...

I took a trip to Canada to see the rail line on Vancouver Island that was using RDC cars out of Victoria on the big island. 

I was too late. The RDC trains had been taken out of service 2 years ago.  The RR lift bridge and the station are gone.  I big hotel is under construction in their space.   I took a trip to the round house.  It looked like the RDC cars were stored there.  But it was hard to see through the dirty windows.   There has been a number of meetings to save the RR but the value of the propety says hotels will take the RR over.


A steam RR still runs on the island out of Port Alberni to a steam powered saw mill a few miles out of town.

This RR and the mill are protected with a goverment historical grant.  

They are almost 100 miles to Victoria and all are connected by now rusty track.


We took a ride on one of the harbor ferries so I could get a better look at what was left of the Lift bridge.  The ferry dropped us off and came back in about an hour to pick us up.  There was nothing to see.  Harbor Ferries are like taxies but they carry about 12 people.


The ferry took us up the inlet as far as it could go.  The tide moves so fast through a narrow passage to another inlet, water is faster then our ferry.  Along the way old boats are parked for free.  The young locals tie the boats together and live free on these floating boat islands.


 Took a ride on a 7.5 INCH Gauge live steam RR.  There must have been 3 or 4 miles of track for this little train.  At the same site there was around 100 acres of history.  A steam trunk that still runs and I found a scale tolley I ran over 20 years ago.


Time for dinner .   See you later.               

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