Ski Train Equipment, 1987-2009

The Ansco Ski Train was equipped with cars built by Hawker-Siddeley in 1968 for VIA Rail in Canada. The cars were purchased by Ansco in 1987, repainted, slightly modified in some cases (with the addition of closets for ski equipment storage), and inaugurated into Ski Train service in time for the 1988 season. The original heavyweight cars were sold for use on the Napa Valley Wine Train, and extensively refurbished.

There were fourteen cars, of four basic types, identified by name series: coaches (MOUNT series), snack bar coaches (PEAK series), cafe/lounge cars (PARK series), and parlor/club cars (SPRINGS series). The cars usually ran with a snack bar or cafe car in every other position, with all the lounges at the rear. The lounges were more roomy, and the ticket included snacks and beverages, which made them more expensive than the basic coach fare.

On most runs, the Ski Train had two or three private cars on the end. These could be leased as a set, for up to $8,500 per trip (plus food!). There were two Budd-built cars: one dome/sleeper (ex-SP&S) and one lounge/diner (ex-Rock Island), plus an open-end observation car, formerly Rio Grande’s business car “Wilson McCarthy”, built by Pullman-Standard and modified by the D&RGW in 1950 to receive an open platform. These were also in the Grande Gold-and-Silver. In the early 1990sthey were given a stylized Southern Pacific speed-lettered herald and an SPL emblem by the vestibule doors, which lasted until 1999. At that time the cars were repainted, and they received the Flying Rio Grande herald as well as the standard Ski Train emblem by the vestibules.

Views of Ski Train Cars, by Type

For reference purposes, I have arbitrarily decided on the following nomenclature: If you were to stand in the vestibule and face into the car, the “A” side is on your right and the “B” side is on your left– no matter if the car is running vestibule-forward or rearward.

Note: After the 1999 winter season, all the individual car names were removed, and replaced with the words “The Ski Train” in a stylized Roman font. However, in December 1999 the names were put back on the cars, near the vestibules (not on the center nameboards). Additionally, the Rio Grande logo was put back on the private cars, and added to the bicycle car. One other change was to replace the Main Line herald (next to the vestibules) with the Ski Train logo on all cars. Visually, it was nearly identical except for the words at the top of the circle, and for its somewhat larger size.

Coaches: MOUNT Series

Mount Bierstadt-971228 MOUNT BIERSTADT, car 2 (12/28/1997).

MOUNT ELBERT, car 4.  (Jan 2, 1998.  Apologies for the blurriness; it was very dim that morning.)  Note the lack of car-type lettering in the upper corners.  Ditto for PIKES PEAK.
ST_Jan98_03 MOUNT EVANS, car 6 (Jan 2, 1998.  See above.).
Mount Massive-19971228 MOUNT MASSIVE, car 8  (12/28/1997) .
ST-20020210_10 MOUNT PRINCETON, car 10. Somehow, even though we rode this car at least twice, I never got a good portrait of the full car.

Coach-Snack: PEAK series

Very similar to a coach except that there was a small snack bar area across from the ski racks (vestibule end). The window that is by itself in the photos of LA PLATA PEAK and PYRAMID PEAK below show it.  The other two photos show the ski-rack side; note the large windowless area next to the vestibule.

As time went on, these snack bars were operated  less and less, with such service being cut back to the two cafe cars.

LaPlataPeak-9712 LA PLATA PEAK, car 1 (12/28/1997) .
ST-941229_PikesPeak PIKES PEAK, car 3.  (12/29/1994)  Note the lack of car-type lettering in the upper corners.  Ditto for MOUNT ELBERT.
Pyramid Peak PYRAMID PEAK, car 7 (2/25/1996).
ShavanoPeak-9712 SHAVANO PEAK, car 11 (12/28/1997) .

Cafe: PARK Series

These cars had a snack counter centered in the car, with seating areas at each end.

NorthPark-9712 NORTH PARK, car 5 (12/28/1997)
ST-2002-WinterPark WINTER PARK, car 9.  Opposite side view from that of NORTH PARK above; this side was indistinguishable from that of the club cars.

Club: SPRINGS series

ColoradoSprings-9712 COLORADO SPRINGS, car 12 (12/28/1997) .
GlenwoodSprings-A-Side GLENWOOD SPRINGS, car 13 (12/28/2000).
ST-2002-IdahoSprings IDAHO SPRINGS, car 14. (2/10/2002)

Private Cars:

CALIFORNIA Dome Sleeper 1993 CALIFORNIA, Vista-dome sleeper.  Originally built for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle RR, it was acquired by Ansco circa 1987. Here it’s seen at Winter Park on 3/14/1993.
RG_CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIA, 8/07/2001, after repainting.  It is back in Rio Grande
lettering, with Ski Train logos near the doors.
UTAH-WP-9908-1 UTAH, lounge/diner at Winter Park on August 14, 1999.
UTAH-WP-9908-2 UTAH, opposite side.
KANSAS-WP-9908-1 KANSAS, at Winter Park on August 14,1999.  Originally delivered to the Rio Grande in 1950 as a coach, it was rebuilt as business car 100, renamed in 1956 after deceased D&RGW president Wilson McCarthy, renamed KANSAS when Rio Grande purchased the Southern Pacific Railroad.
KANSAS-WP-9908-2 KANSAS, opposite side.

Typical Car Order

[0] Combine No. 1231 Bicycle Car (summer only)
[1] La Plata Peak Coach
[2] Mount Bierstadt Coach/Snack
[3] Pikes Peak Coach
[4] Mount Elbert Coach/Snack
[5] North Park Cafe
[6] Mount Evans Coach
[7] Pyramid Peak Coach/Snack
[8] Mount Massive Coach
[9] Winter Park Cafe
[10] Mount Princeton Coach
[11] Shavano Peak Coach/Snack
[12] Colorado Springs Club
[13] Glenwood Springs Club
[14] Idaho Springs Club

Cars one through four, plus six and seven, ran vestibule-rearward. All others ran vestibule-forward.

Additionally, the private cars usually ran as follows:

CALIFORNIA – Dome/Sleeper
UTAH – Diner/Lounge
KANSAS – Open-end Observation/Lounge

The order above shows the usual lineup.  On special runs, charters, etc. (such as when used as the University of Iowa football parking shuttle), cars could be omitted at need.  On the summer train, the dome CALIFORNIA was often removed due to the addition of the bicycle car– the tracks at Union Station could not accommodate more than 17 cars.  On rare occasions, the winter train ran without any of the private cars at all.

Additional note:  Sometime around 2007, MOUNT BIERSTADT was converted to a business-conference car, and relocated to run just ahead of the club cars.

When the Tempo cars were purchased in 1987, a couple of extras were included in the deal (to provide parts, mostly). At some point these cars were sold. After learning of the presence of a pair of Tempo cars in the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, Arizona,  Glenn Leasure and I researched and concluded that these were indeed two of the “parts” cars from Denver.  They have no trucks and have been completely gutted and turned into “party cars”, reservable for children’s birthday parties and the like.

DSC_0514 DSC_0512 DSC_0511
DSC_0510 DSC_0509 DSC_0508

I searched all over (and under) these cars to try to find serial numbers, to no avail. Nevertheless, all other Tempo cars are accounted for; there is nowhere else these could have come from. How or exactly when they came to Arizona I do not know, but they departed Denver sometime prior to 2002.