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Monte Vista Industrial Lead [DRGW Facilities PA]

monte-vista-lead_07.jpg: Monte Vista yard limit

Here, I’ll represent the former D&RGW/ now SLRG lead at Monte Vista, Colorado, one of the surviving industrial lead in a town, as a record.

map_monte-vista-lead.jpg: 1960 USGS aerial photo of the lead with trackside industries identified in 2017

The Monte Vista industrial lead (1997 UP Zone-Track-Spot 150, Coors Lead) diverts from the main track within the yard limit, west of depot team track switch, and curves cross the Acequia Dr at North Washington St. The facility now occupied by U.S. AutoForce, former Premier Tire Terminal, still retains loading gate facing the curved track.

monte-vista-lead_02.jpg: crossing Acequia Dr

Continuing north, the lead stretches between facilities: former A. E. Staley Manufacturing Co. (ZTS 712, Staley) now occupied by brightly painted Colorado Seed Co. and San Luis Valley Auto Repair. Colorado Seed still retains the loading spout.

monte-vista-lead_03.jpg: looking south from BPW Way crossing
monte-vista-lead_04.jpg: Colorado Seed

North of BPW Way crossing, the lead draws reverse curves next to the facility now occupied by San Luis Valley Precast. End of the reverse curves locates a switch diverting a siding for the facilities now occupied by MountainKing Potatoes (ZTS 713, Mountain King Potato). Switch stand is barely seen in the photo below.

monte-vista-lead_05.jpg: looking north from BPW Way crossing

In 1960, the end of the lead at Schaefer Rd served the grain elevator now occupied by Coors. In 2014, the lead extended further north to the new huge Coors elevator (ZTS 714, Coors)[1]. The track at the right in the photo below is the former end of the lead, and the track with hopper cars is the spur to the new facility.

monte-vista-lead_06.jpg: looking south from Schaefer Rd crossing

[1] “Miller-Coors – Barley Storage Facility”, Halverson Company web page;
* 1992 photo of D&RGW GP60 #3155 switching ZTS-712 by James Belmont;
* 2012 photo of SLRG B39-8E #8527 switching ZTS-712 by Chris Starnes;

map_monte-vista-lead_02.jpg: Google map of Monte Vista Industrial Lead

Japanese & Comments


Leads and Spurs [Column_Photo Archives]

lead_shibaurafuto_02.jpg: Hinode-Futo, Tokyo, Japan. early 1980s

Industrial leads and spurs diverting from the main track could be found anywhere in the 70’s. And those sleepy vacant spaces were the prime playgrounds for the kids like me: my pole at that time was decoding faded route cards on boxcar doors.

Today, industries served by rail are mostly located not in the town but in the fenced suburban industrial parks where kids aren’t familiar with or far from home. Leads and spurs in the town may be missed sooner or later.

Model Railroader magazine often features such leads and spurs in a town as “a railroad you can model”, maybe not only to suggest a switching layout operation but also to sentimentalize the miss of neighboring rails[1]. Hereafter, I’ll represent such industrial leads I happened to meet during the trip along the former D&RGW route.

[1] Richter, David, (1968) “Railroads in the streets”, April 1968, Model Railroader, Kalmbach Publishing

lead_shibaurafuto_01.jpg: Hinode-Futo, Tokyo, Japan. early 1980s

Japanese & Comments


Monte Vista Depot [DRGW Facilities PA]

monte-vista-lead_01.jpg: Sep. 6, 2017

This is one of the Rio Grande original facilities remained along its route in Colorado; the depot at Monte Vista.

According to Denver & Rio Grande Western Depots Volume 2, Monte Vista depot was first built in 1886 with the one-story frame structure[1]. In 1907, the second depot was built with the one-story brick structure, and in 1947, it was rebuilt and expanded with cinder blocks. However, it was retired in 1978.

The structure visible in the distance in the photo above is the replica of Rio Grande Southern’s Mancos depot first built in 1953 by Bob Richardson and Carl Helfin for by-then Narrow Gauge Museum & Motel south of Alamosa.
The museum moved to Golden, CO in 1958 and became Colorado Railroad Museum. The structure itself was relocated, sold, and moved to Monte Vista afterward.

The narrow gauge Creede Branch reached Monte Vista in 1881 and was converted to dual gauge in 1901[2]. The line is operated by San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad since 2003. Barley for Coors is the main commodity shipped from Monte Vista since the Rio Grande era to this day.

[1] Carter, Clive (2013) Denver & Rio Grande Western Depots Vol. 2
[2] Holmes, Nathan D., (2009) “D&RG/D&RGW Creede Branch History” DRGW.Net;
postcard_nallow-gauge-museum.jpg: postcard of Nallow Gauge Museum


Japanese & Comments


Reminders of the 70’s along Rio Grande 88 − Mesa View Motel, Palisade [Trackside Colorado PA]

mesa-view-motel_01.jpg: Sep. 11, 2017

Mesa View Motel is located at the center of the town of Palisade, Colorado on 424 W 8th St facing old US Hwy 50 & 6.

Robert Randal(1927 – 2016) and Vera Lois(1929 – 2010) Kittel built the motel in 1953 and operated it until 1964[1]. William T. and Adda Mae(1925 – 2007) Lowrance succeeded the business from 1970 to 1985[2]. It is owned by Terry Hammer since 1994[3].

The mesa shown behind the motel is the Mt. Garfield; the iconic outcrop of the Book Cliffs overlooking Grand Valley. My dad also took the photo 47 years ago.

[1] Jan. 6, 2010 Daily Sentinel;
[2] Adda Mae Lowrance obituary;
[3] manta web page;

mesa-view-motel_postcard.jpg: postcard maybe printed in the 70’s
mt.garfield_01.jpg: Aug. 1971
mt.garfield_02.jpg: Sep. 11, 2017

Japanese & Comments


Surfaces - Everyday Life in the Early 70’s [Column_Photo Archives]

Here, I introduce scanned images from my dad’s slides mostly taken in the early 70’s. 1964 Oldsmobile was our only choice for means of family trip to as north as Fairbanks, AK or to as south as Oaxaca, Mexico: we never used airlines. Accordingly, I decided to call this series of posts as “Surfaces”.

1970_71_US_0829.jpg: Buena Vista, VA 1971

a historical technical term – “Outdoor Pool”

Japanese & Comments


D&RGW XM #63303, 63325 and 63396 [DRGW Equipments PA]

drgw63325_01.jpg: DRGW 63325
drgw63325_02.jpg: DRGW 63325
drgw63325_03.jpg: DRGW 63325

These D&RGW boxcars are found apart at Monte Vista and near Del Norte.

#63303 is found at Monte Vista next to the SLRG track on North Broadway St. We can see the back of "Precision Design" recessed panels next to the door.

#63325 is found at Monte Vista on SLRG siding. It still keeps the wood-lined interior and numbers printed on every door and lintel.

#63396 is found 6 miles west of Del Norte, next to Hanna siding on the north side of US Hwy 160. More reliable photo of this particular car with number “396” visible is found at Trainboard site[1].

According to Rio Grande Morning Sun Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment (MSCG), these cars, built in 1966 by American Car & Foundry, were the last new freight equipment to wear the flying logo.

D&RGW 63300 – 63499 series Boxcars:
The Official Railway Equipment Register for July 1974 shows the group with 194 cars of possible 200 cars in place, described as follows:

The D&RGW series 63300 to 63499 is shown with AAR Designation XM and description “Box, Stl., Wood Lined, Cush. Underfr., 50000 lb Nailable Stl. Flr., Roller Bearings”.

The inside length of these cars is 50 feet 6 inches, inside width 9 feet 4 inches, inside height 10 feet 6 inches, outside length 55 feet 2 inches, extreme height 15 feet 1 inch and capacity 4941 cubic feet or 145,000 pounds.

#63*** from this series found in Utah is shown here. And my N scale model of #63341 from this series is shown here.

All photos are taken on Sep. 6, 2017

[1] 2013 photo of #63396 at Trainboard site;

drgw63303_01.jpg: DRGW 63303
drgw63303_03.jpg: DRGW 63303
drgw63396_01.jpg: DRGW 63396

Japanese & Comments

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