The photos below are what we saw.
City sits astride the Arkansas River. The city built a
nice riverside park. Above, they moved boulders to form a
whitewater obstacle for kayakers. The bridge at the right
of the photo above was built in 1891 according to it's plaque.
south side of the river was another park with a large river-fed
walked to the station and spotted an old steam locomotive that
was used on the narrow gauge tracks in the area.
locomotive is a Shay which, among other things, has a
non-symmetrical design. The boiler sits toward the left
boiler location was designed to allow room for the steam
cylinders on the right side.
triple cylinders drive shafts with universal joints that turn
the wheel gears. This is the steam locomotive equivalent
of all-wheel drive commonly used for logging and operation on
steep, narrow-gauge lines.
locomotive was modern as was the balance of the rolling stock
for our excursion.
passenger cars had fully modern suspensions with sway-supression
bars and shocks.
purchased seats in the dome car. This car was very long
and had many tables to handle the crowds of tourists that take
the train. The seats are on the second level of the train
so visibility is good.
first thing that we saw after we started rolling is the Colorado
State Prison, built by the prisoners themselves from rock
quarried from the hillside.
River is actually quite small by any standard but has strong
currents due to the steep grade on the river.
powerful currents of the river carry much sand and sediment and
cut through the rock like a saw leaving steep canyon walls.
The dark bands are due to volcanic intrusions.
upstream side of the main gorge the canyons widen and the river
Arkansas River hosts lots of anglers and rafters. At the
end of the travel route, the train stopped, reversed direction
and then started back down the canyon.
top of the canyon we encountered the intake weir for the now-decommissioned
Canyon City aqueduct. A portion of the intake ports are
visible on the face of the concrete.
downstream from the intake weir was the sediment pond that
allowed particulates and sand in the aqueduct to settle prior to
entering the piping.
aqueduct was built around the turn of the century and required
substantial infrastructure including pipeline bridges and
siphons. This bridge collapsed many years ago.
material of choice for plumbing "back in the day" was redwood
staves bound together by cable and steel hoops.
entire aqueduct project was performed with conscript prison
labor from Canyon City. In narrow portions of the canyon
the pipes were hung from the cliff walls with cables and rock
bolts. In many areas the pipeline went through hand-dug
tunnels in the canyon walls.
steep portions of the canyon, wires were strung over the tracks
to provide warning of rock falls. Falling rock would break
wires, thus setting off an alarm in the railroad dispatch
The narrowest part of the gorge required creative engineering. In this portion of the route, the train passes over a suspended trestle. Rather than supporting the bridge trestle from below, it is hung from a overhead structure that spans the whole canyon.
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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2018 all rights
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.