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[Back to the Front Door]

The last operational F-unit on the Rio Grande, F9 No. 5771, leads the Ski Train on March 24, 1984.  It's rounding the curve in Coal Creek Canyon on the way up to Tunnel 1.

The pilot on No. 5771 was rebuilt by the D&RGW's shops after a grade-crossing accident in Utah sometime in late October or November 1980.  Note that it's a simple flat sheet-metal design, unique to this unit.

Since the beginnings of the Rio Grande Zephyr operation, the 5771 and its two B-unit mates had been primary power for that train.  After the demise of the RGZ in April 1983, the three F's went into general service, mostly hauling ballast and slag around the system.  For the 1984 season they returned to passenger service, powering the Ski Train up to Winter Park and back each weekend.  After the end of that season, they performed a little more general service, then went into retirement at Burnham shops (Denver).  There they sat until 1996 when No. 5771 and  B unit 5762 were donated to the Colorado Rail Museum in Golden.

Steam Generator car No. 253 (visible above) was later rebuilt as a power car for the new Ski Train operation, and served in that capacity until the year 2000.  Later it was sold to Canada, where it was refurbished and continues to generate power for passenger trains.

Rio Grande Zephyr-- No. 5771 leads the westbound RGZ on Thannksgiving Day 1982, near the entrance to Coal Creek Canyon.  The F9s and the Rio Grande Zephyr get much more attention at my RGZ, Ski Train, and Rail Encounters pages.
F9s in Retirement-- F9A No. 5771 and F9B No. 5762, restored and resting at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO, Feb 9, 2002.
On August 7, 1982, a Rio Grande freight exited the west end of Byers Canyon at an excessive speed. There's an extremely sharp curve here (20 degrees). The lead locomotive made it around the 20-MPH curve going 57 MPH, but all the trailing units left the rails, as well as a substantial portion of the train.  One week later, I took this photo from onboard the Rio Grande Zephyr.  A number of gondola cars were parked on the house track at Flat (just west of Parshall), loaded with pieces of the wreckage.

D&RGW Vista-Dome Chair Car "Silver Bronco" --  car No. 1105, seen May 1984 at the Burnham shops in Denver.  This veteran of the California Zephyr and Rio Grande Zephyr sat in Denver until its sale circa 2005, though it wasn't used after April 1983.

Ski Train Classic   The last Ski Train of the 1984 season rolls through the curves between Coal Creek and Blue Mountain Road on April 8, 1984.

As it turned out, although the heavyweight coaches would roll on for three more years, the F9's would never again appear on this or any other passenger train.  They would be permanently retired the following October.

Top: SW1000 No. 141 kicks cars at North Yard on 11/19/1990.

 

Bottom: In February of 2000, No. 141 sits in retirement. Taken near the turntable at the former C&NW locomotive shop in Council Bluffs, IA.  Photo by Jeff Ramsell.

Vintage Rio Grande-- Narrow Gauge K-37 locomotive No. 498, hard at work in 1967. Thanks to Jim Black for the photo.

Narrow Gauge Flatcar No. 6672, being used as a bridge in Farmington, NM. This car started as a SG boxcar in 1909, and was converted to a NG flat in 1956.
Unit coal train descending the tunnel district on 11/20/1991.  It is led by Nos. 5347, 5507, 5506, and 5395 (SD40T-2, SD50, SD50, SD40T-2).  It is about to enter Tunnel 1.  Photo below is the same train.

Note the fourth hopper in the train, with the yellow rotary end-- the only non-quad hopper in the consist, this is a second-hand 3-bay car picked up in 1990.

Three-unit swing helper on an eastbound coal train, which consists of D&RGW 100-ton quad hoppers.  Rio Grande practice at this late date was to put a pair or trio of SD's in the middle of loaded coal trains, with more on the rear.  In this case, a tunnel motor and two SD50's are doing the honors as the train descends the curves in Coal Creek Canyon.  (11/20/1991).  Within a year, pure sets of Rio Grande power were a thing of the past.
EMD's SD70M Demonstrator unit No. 7000 is mid-train at Tunnel 1 on 7/20/94.  It's paired with tunnel motor No. 5365 as swing helper on the CSUX unit train (coal for Colorado Springs' Martin Drake or Nixon powerplants).

 

 

? 1998 - 2013, James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.