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Thread: Rebirth of a Historic Colorado Narrow Gauge Engine

  1. Default Rebirth of a Historic Colorado Narrow Gauge Engine

    Glen Brewer

    The Return of Colorado & Southern Number 9

    Read this and other stories by Glen Brewer at

    Railroad Glory Days

    Last edited by gbrewer; 11-14-2010 at 07:39 PM.
    Glen Brewer

  2. #2



    The text of your essay, while perhaps a bit light, is very clear and straightforward. My comments regarding your images follow. May of my comments are regarding minor things, so please don't take them out of proportion.

    1. Just beyond Georgetown loading area.

    Very good exposure and image processing in a difficult lighting situation. The dark locomotive and the shadowed area behind it are separated enough not to merge together. I do have some very minor suggestions or possibilities for this image.

    I wonder if it might have been preferable to have the full name on the tender showing, as this is the intro piece to the essay, but this is not a big factor. I also tend to think that it would be nice to see a bit more of the first car of passengers, though I don't know the environment you were in, so it may not have been possible. I think there is a very minor tilt to the right, and suggest perhaps a very small rotation counter clockwise. However, this could also be an optical illusion due tot eh curving track, angle to the track, and grades in the area. Finally, the post on the very lower right adds nothing, and possibly a step to the left or a slight crop from the right would have eliminated it and made for a slightly cleaner image.

    2. Number 9 with train on the Devels Gate Viaduct.

    Again, you have done a good job with exposure in a difficult lighting situation. I don't know if the file will allow, but if it is possible, you might try to pull a bit more detail out of the locomotive and under-deck portion of the bridge. I do find the sky a bit on the green side, and this could likely be tweaked to appear more natural. Finally, though there really is nothing you can do about it, the power line in the upper right is a bit of a distraction. Then again, this minor element is also what shows this train to be current-day, so it can be seen to serve a purpose within your story. Oh, and I think you mean "Devil's Gate Viaduct."

    3. Backing to the other end for the trip to Georgetown.

    I like the way you have the silhouette of both the engineer and fireman in this image. In combination with the surrounding elements (the car with passengers, the freight cars alongside, the house in the background, and the wall of rock), it gives a complete story regarding the tourist line, as well as the feeling of a very tight and confined space. The yellow sign in the lower right is perhaps a bit distracting, but not so much as to be a concern.

    4. Not much room in the cab.

    Yet again, you have done a good job with a difficult lighting situation. It is good to see a that you are not afraid of shooting on the shadow side, as that is where you will find more character created by the lighting. The image does have a bit of a tilt to the right, and the part of a lawn chair showing on the left doesn't add anything. I think the image would be a bit stronger if were rotated counter-clockwise and cropped on the left to eliminate these issues.

    5. From the I-70 scenic overlook, nearly the whole railroad is visible.

    Overall, I very much like this image. I do think that the rocks below the locomotive are a bit bright, and thus would try the image a bit darker, but only very slightly. The wires in the lower left are a distraction, but not easily removed. My real concern is that the image doesn't really match the title, as it shows only a small section of the line, not the fact that "nearly the whole railroad is visible." That would tend to me to imply an overall view, but that is not what is shown.

    6. All steamed up and ready to go.

    You have a nice deep blue sky and rich colours in this image, but there is a bit of a loss of detail in the locomotive. That is likely due to the time of day, and the lighting, so there may not have been much you could do about that. I do find myself thinking that it might be nice to see a bit more towards the left. The locomotive is fairly centred, and we have only a hint of platform and train, while on the right side the chain link fence adds nothing. Even a small turn to the left may have helped, but then again I don't know if there was something else there that would have been more bothersome.

    7. The Loop High Bridge and train in the autum.

    First, a very minor misspell of "autumn", but that can easily be corrected. The image does a good job giving both the impression of a tight situation with the confining trees on each side, and the tall nature of the bridge by showing the road below. You have done a good job at trying to hide the too bright area of road behind the trees in the lower left, but a bit of local darkening might help here, too. Like your other image here, the sky appears too green, and the pesky power line distracts. Some viewers might prefer the locomotive more to the left to give it room to move into, but conversely the trailing smoke would be less visible, so this is likely a toss-up.

    Overall, a very good essay and set of images. I would really like to see those green skies cleaned up. None the less, I vote for approval as this essay is right now.

    Thank you very much for submitting this essay. I'm sure others will enjoy it, too.
    Rob Scrimgeour
    Victoria, BC

  3. #3


    Another nice bit of work. I tend to not take the so-called "tourist" lines seriously, which is a mistake as so many are well rooted in rail history. I like the blending of the history of the line with shots of the current tourist operation, giving your essay both context and content. I learned something reading it, and enjoyed the lesson due to the photographs.

    Good work, I say post it!

    Martin Burwash

  4. Thumbs up

    These historic lines and restorations get better all of the time. I could hardly believe it when the viaduct was rebuilt in the early '80's. Now to see #9 under steam again is wonderful. Former Denver Boulder and Western #30 nee C&S #74 and RGS #74 is undergoing restoration and will join the 9 spot in the near future.

    Your essay is very informative with clear and descriptive text. There are some exposure issues in a few of the photos - but steam locomotives are tough subjects on bright clear days. The detail just gets sucked up into the shadows. Since this is really more of a news/information piece rather than an essay and I think that it works well.

    I vote to post.

  5. #5


    Me, Martin, and Jon makes three, so this has been moved into the essays section.
    Rob Scrimgeour
    Victoria, BC

  6. #6


    Excellent essay and some great photos too. Of course I'm a sucker for steam, but this is some really nice stuff, and you've included some good info on the line.

    Like some of the others have mentioned, I was truly amazed when the viaduct was re-constructed. That was a significant accomplishment, and I'm glad they were able to acheive it.

    Minor nitpick, it should be spelled Devils Gate, with an i instead of a second e, unless you're aware of some historical spelling I'm not familiar with.
    Bob Harbison
    RailroadPhotoEssays host

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Minor nitpick, it should be spelled Devils Gate, with an i instead of a second e, unless you're aware of some historical spelling I'm not familiar with.
    Sorry to correct your correction, Bob, but as I noted earlier it should actually be "Devil's Gate", not "Devels Gate" as original, nor "Devils Gate" as you note.

    This is a possessive situation, not a multiple situation, so it does need the apostrophe. Of course, as you note, this is minor, but should be easy to fix, too.
    Rob Scrimgeour
    Victoria, BC

  8. #8
    Two23 Guest


    I rode The Loop when the previous train service was operating. In fact, I got to ride in the cab of the Shay engine. That was too cool! The train crew on this one would have likely allowed you up to take a shot of the train interior, I'm guessing. You would need an ultrawide lens (10-12mm on DSLR) and a good accessory flash held off camera.

    I was not aware the actual trestle had been dismantled. That does make it a miracle! While I give a big thumbs down to the local historical society for booting out the previous train service (who were very nice folks,) I do give them credit for keeping a nice ride available. The 1880 Train in Hill City, SD is another excellent ride through the mountains. They have three steamers, including a 2-6-6-2 Mallet.

    I've found these tourist steam operations to be excellent. They are hardcore railfans and accomodate as much as their insurance company will allow. They generally are after authenticity and really know their trains. You can get some shots that wouldn't have been possible during the original steam era because cameras then were all black & white. And you know what a huge disadvantage THAT can be.

    Kent in SD

  9. Default


    The Ashby's ran a great operation, and it was sad that they were booted out the way they were. They own some nice engines (one of which was running at the Colorado Railroad Museum this weekend), but not authentic ones for the line. The Ashby's now operate the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (see my story about it).

    The really good news is: Old Number 9 is back on the tracks!
    Last edited by gbrewer; 12-11-2006 at 06:05 PM.
    Glen Brewer

  10. #10


    Great photos! I'm surprised that little engine can pull that big of a train up the loop.
    Sam Reeves Photography
    Celebrating 10 Years on the Internet 1999-2009
    Pacific Grove, California

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