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October 2018 Green Light

October's Green Light hot off the press right at the end of the month.  In this month's of the Green Light we've got the following lined-up for you:

  • DRGW 5401 Finds "Forever Home" at Colorado Railroad Museum by Kevin Morgan
  • RGM&HS Society News:
    • Message from President's Office by Mike Carlson
    • RGM&HS Trustee Election by Tim O'Fallon
    • 2019 RGM&HS Convention Picture Wrap-Up
  • Arrowhead Model’s HO Scale Rio Grande “Committee Design” Hopper Review by Prospector Editor Dave Lotz
  • "Rio Grande” Model News - National Train Edition
    • ScaleTrains HO Scale SD40T-2
    • Athearn HO Scale SD40T-2
  • Editor's Rio Grande Photo Choice
  • Preserving DRGW at Cross Orchards Historic Site by Matt Darling
  • Upcoming Shows for RGM&HS booth

D&RGW 5401 Finds “Forever Home” at Colorado Railroad Museum by Kevin Morgan

Photo Credit Bill Nagel

The movement of DRGW 5401 (patched as UP 9871) to its forever home has finally happened. Union Pacific donated the Tunnel Motor to the Colorado Railroad Museum nearly a decade ago. For the past eight years, it has sat on the ground of Coors Brewing Company in Golden. The museum did not have a spot for it, nor did it have the money to move it.   That all changed on August 22nd, when 5401 rolled on active rails for what is likely its last time. Coors had retrieved the unit from its storage location and delivered it to BNSF. A pair of BNSF SD40-2s went on either end of 5401 to ensure safe movement for just over a mile on BNSF's Golden Sub. They took it to the 44th Avenue grade crossing, about a half mile east of the museum.

Photo Credit Kevin Morgan

Once at the 44th Avenue grade crossing, four cranes from Hulcher Services went in to action. The SD40-2s cut away and the cranes, each tackling a corner of 5401, lifted it entirely off the rails and started rolling west down 44th Avenue.

For safety reasons, about a mile stretch of 44th Avenue around the museum was completely shut down. Shots with my 400mm lens were the best I could do to cover the event at this point.

44th Avenue crosses over an irrigation ditch called Farmers Canal. Structure engineers said the bridge could support the distributed weight of 5401. What does that mean? Four sections of panel track were laid down the middle of 44th Avenue. The cranes lowered 5401 on to the panel track and a bulldozer pulled the T-2 across the panel track, over the bridge. Alas, that was impossible to shoot as it was too far away and there was too much equipment in the way.

Once over the bridge, Hulcher's cranes went back to work lifting 5401 off the ground and slowly rolling it west down the middle of 44th Avenue.

In order to get 5401 through the front gates of the museum, the cranes had to make a 90° turn off of 44th Avenue and in to the dirt overflow parking lot the museum has on the south side of 44th. Here, the cranes started the slow process of moving off the road and into said lot. It was easier to get pictures from the west end of the road closure as we were only a few hundred feet away from the entrance.

Once the cranes (and 5401) were clear of the road, two tractor went and retrieved all four sections of panel track. They then laid the track across 44th Avenue and into the front entrance of the museum (perpendicular to the tracks inside the museum). Once the panel track was in place and securely bolted, the front truck of 5401 was lowered on to the rails and the front cranes entered in to the museum. A tractor once again hooked on to the front of 5401 and slowly started to pull it in to the property. It was fascinating to watch this process as the tractor had to be well-coordinated with the two cranes at the back of 5401, which were still suspending the back half of the engine in the air over the dirt parking lot!

Photo Credit Bill Nagel

The process of bringing 5401 down 44th Avenue was not exactly kind on the asphalt! As Hulcher works to get the engine through the front gate, a crew from Golden showed up and placed a "Rough Road" sign on the shoulder of 44th Avenue. Commuters will have a bit of a rough ride for a few days until the asphalt can be repaired!

The overall move was incredible. Ten 18-wheelers were present that had hauled in all the heavy machinery needed for the move. Local news crews covered the event, and Xcel Energy was also present to make sure all overhead lines were clear of the move.

Photo Credit Brent Rush

After clearing the entrance to the museum, there was not much to be seen from the road block at 44th Avenue. However, there was a small sucker hole (through the trees) from Easley Road from above and behind the museum (to the north). So here is a final shot of 5401, now entering in to its "forever home". As it reaches the end of the panel track, Hulcher cranes start to hook on again, ready to lift the engine off the rail and move it over to one of the museum tracks.

Apparently, the eventual plan from the museum is to remove the UP patching (of course), remove the ditch lights, and put the MARS light and class lights back in. 5401 will be at the entrance of the museum, with its lights lit up when the museum is open to welcome guests. Believe it is also the intention to (eventually) have the cab open for touring by patrons as well.


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