Tuesday, April 28, 2020

1879 Royal Gorge Express/D&RGW Hanging Bridge over Arkansas River in Royal Gorge

(Bridge Hunter; Satellite)

Photo from LC-DIG-det-4a09172 via Bridge Hunter

I put "?" for the current owner because it is owned by UP, but, because it is part of the Tennessee Pass route, I believe it is out of service. I have read that another company wants to buy it, but UP won't sell. Some sources show the owner as Rio Grande Southern Railway. I believe they were a subsididary of D&RGW.
Ken Swiderski PMed me the comment:
Ownership of the Tennessee Pass line at the Hanging Bridge (MP 166.23) is convoluted. On July 1 1998, UP sold the portion of the line between MP 160.15 and MP 171.9 to three entities, each having fingers in each others' pies:- Rock & Rail Railroad (reporting marks RRRR, owner of record per FRA and responsible for freight operations and possibly maintenance);- Cañon City and Royal Gorge Railroad (CCRG, responsible for dispatching the line)- Royal Gorge Express (RGX, the tourist passenger operation).The last I heard (during 2011) RRRR ran one job per day from Cañon City to Pueblo and back to interchange freight with UP and BNSF. There is still a quarry in Parkdale but I'm not sure how much business they generate these days.
UP still owns the rest of the line, but most is not in service. I believe no rail has been removed even after over twenty years. The line has been in the news lately, though: www.vaildaily.com/news/feds-asked-to-direct-union-pacific-to-sell-tennessee-pass-line-to-agriculture-company/ . STB has declined. (I believe the "Towner line" mentioned in the article is an abandoned MP line east of Pueblo.)
Main track authority, edited from UP Denver Area Timetable No. 5 in effect 0900C September 28, 2015: Tennessee Pass Subdivision RG118 (MP 118.2, Pueblo Junction) to RG122 (MP 121.5): Rule 6.28 (Movement on Other than Main Track) RG122 (MP 121.5) to MP 159.2: CTC MP 159.2 to MP 171.9: Movement governed by joint timetable of CCRG and Rock and Rail RR. MP 171.9 to MP 335: Rule 6.28 (Movement on Other than Main Track); Main track not in service. Glenwood Springs Subdivision Eagle Valley Industrial Lead Extends 6.9 miles from Dotsero, MP 341.9 to MP 335.0.
safe_image for Trains could return to Colorado’s Tennessee Pass, rumble through Leadville under pair of proposals[This article indicates that Royal Gorge Express, the passenger operation, is the owner. And that neither the Utah oil interests (Colorado Pacific) or the southeastern Colorado wheat interests (KCVN) have talked to them. It would cost $278 million to rehabilitate the 208 miles of track that has not been used since 1997. The locals around Leadville would rather have a trail. Another proposed use for the route is a commuter service so that the workers in the expensive ski resorts in the Eagle River Valley could live in the more affordable Upper Arkansas River Valley. Colorado State owns the Moffat Tunnel and UP's lease to use it expires 2025.]

May 18, 2023: railfan
Colorado Pacific Gives Up Bid for Tennessee Pass

Santa Fe built the railroad through the gorge while Santa Fe and D&RGW fought for the rights to the gorge. When D&RGW won, they pad Santa Fe $1.4m for what they had built. [CanonCityDailyRecord]

Photo via Bridge Hunter
Taken 1881-1890
William Henry Jackson & Co./Library and Archives Canada/C-002288

Mark Mcgowan posted
Theodore Roosevelt's President's Special on D&RGW's Hanging Bridge over the Arkansas River in Colorado's Royal Gorge. 1903.
(George L. Beam photo)
Roy Reynolds: Still has the third rail.

Kevin Robbins posted three photos with the comment:
“Bridge Over Troubled Waters”
White Sox History has shown these photos before but never really went in to detail before today.
It was on February 27, 1910 while the Sox team train was crossing the country from Chicago to their spring home in San Francisco when they decided it was time to stretch their legs, and would ask that the train pause for some photo opportunities on the Royal Gorge Hanging Bridge that spanned the Arkansas River in Colorado. The bridge, which had been completed in 1897 was, for the time, considered a “feat of structural engineering”.
Among those posing for photos of the team were future Hall of Fame pitcher Ed Walsh and Sox owner, Charles Comiskey, who were accompanied by many family members. The hanging bridge was no stranger to photo ops, as many Americans wanted to be a part of history. The bridge was built through a very narrow thirty foot gap over the canyon that could not be made wider because of the precarious way the rock formations were positioned, preventing any blasting to widen it without the risk of landslides.
In what would become an all out fight for the rights to that parcel of land, the Denver Rio Grande Western Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Companies would engage in sabotaging one another as they raced to get their tracks set down to this very spot.
Both rail companies had to fight through the Federal Court System wile putting “hired guns” in place to shoot anyone invading their territories. It was a two year war that finally came to an end with a treaty that would allow both rail companies to travel the route that they would both finally come together to complete.
The White Sox were one of the most famously documented visitors to the site with many pictures taken in 1910, but were overshadowed by the most famous of all visitors in 1905, the President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt.
Although it may have been a long downward plunge in to the ice cold Arkansas River, the White Sox players bravely posed precariously close to the drop. When the train came to the stop, the entire team and family members disembarked over the river and slowly made their way to the front of the train so they could have their picture taken with the majesty of the coal and wood burning locomotive as their backdrop.
They would all then make their way back to board the train over the treacherous tracks, knowing well that at any time, one false move and they could take their last step ever, falling in to the river below.
The train would then proceed to move over the 175 foot span once everyone was safely back on board, only to stop once again so that the team could once again risk their lives to disembark at the back of the train to get the caboose as their background.
The view of the canyon was awe inspiring with its long drop in to the ravine and the wall of rock rising 2,600 feet above the tracks. Again, many tourists took advantage of this historic site for photographs, but when it came to baseball teams, the White Sox were the first and the only to document their visit.
⚾️ Photo #1 Royal Gorge Hanging Bridge over the Arkansas River in Colorado was completed in 1897, and was called a feat of structural engineering.
⚾️ Photo #2 White Sox team and family members pose at the rear of the train
⚾️ Photo #3 Posing in front of the train while enroute to spring training in 1910. Photos credit of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Greg Burnet shared


The White Sox are one of three significant users mentioned in RoyalGorge.

Rick Burnett posted
956 feet down to the tracks on the Arkansas River at the Royal Gorge.
Steve Drassler DRGW back in the day. Two railroads competed for rights through the canyon. There are accounts of shots being fired to stop construction. Back in the day.
Al Snyder I read about similar issues when the WM and B&O were fighting over the best route along the Potomac River. WM had to actually post guards because they would lay track during the day, and B&O would tear it up overnight!

Thomas Wentzel posted

American-Rails.com posted
A Rio Grande 4-8-4 (M-68) has the first section of the heavyweight, westbound "Royal Gorge" (Denver - Pueblo - Ogden), stopped at the famous Hanging Bridge along the Arkansas River on June 1, 1947. Otto Roach photo.

Trains Magazine posted
The appeal of the D&RGW's famous Hanging Bridge at the bottom of the Royal Gorge is timeless, as Mileposts blogger Kevin Keefe discovered on a recent visit:
[A comment points out the three rails. Back then it could handle the original narrow gauge and standard gauge.]

Nicholas Valdez commented on Trains' post, cropped
[It appears they cut off part of the "wall" and added fill to the river. But I've seen a 2018 photo that still has the bridge.]

Chris Ness posted
Suspended roadbed on the Royal Gorge line along the Arkansas River.  10/08
Brady Halligan: An enormous amount of railroad history here. And while the line is now out of service for revenue traffic, this portion is open as a tourist railroad line.
Lucas Barnlund: Where exactly is this?

Dennis DeBruler commented on Lucas' comment
Just enough light made it down into the canyon that we cans see part of it.
38°27'45.9"N 105°19'40.0"W

safe_image for Royal Gorge Route Railroad With Amazing Canyons!
"Originally conceived out of the 1870s silver rush in Colorado, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad was blown out of solid granite!...At some points in the canyon, the walls are as high as 2600 feet and as narrow as 30 feet at the bottom!"
Originally conceived out of the 1870s silver rush in Colorado, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad was blown out of solid granite!

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