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A few USA railroad & model railroad attractions. 

Williams Arizona.

Grand Canyon Railroad.

 Williams is a quaint town on the famous Route 66. The town majors on that fact as well as it’s other main attraction - the Grand Canyon Railroad.

    This is a 65 mile long private railroad that operates heritage stock and the occasional steam loco as well. The trip takes you from Williams to Grand Canyon Village. The village depot (station to us) is literally within a stones throw of the Canyon edge. There are one or two trips a day depending on the time of year. We watched the train on it’s return to Williams several evenings. There is also a small museum at the Williams depot. 

Left - Arrival back at Williams after the excursion. This train consisted of two "A" units (with driving cabs).

Right - The train approaches the final bend into Williams. This has one "A" unit and a "B" unit (B units do not have a driving cab).


Left - At Grand Canyon Depot. After the journey from Williams the locos have run round the train and await the return of the passengers who will have looked around the Grand Canyon and had some lunch.


Right - At the Williams Depot (station) there is No 539 a 1917 2-8-2 built for The Northern Pacific Railroad. 

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Ogden Utah.

Utah State Railroad Museum.

     Union Station in Ogden (the Americans seem to switch from stations to depots and railway to railroad very easily!) is a fully restored depot building which contains 4 museums, a restaurant and several art galleries.

    One of the museums is the Utah State Railroad Museum. The museum concentrates on the salt lake connection and the railroad causeway that went across it. The causeway has now been dismantled.

    The other “claim to fame” of Ogden is the Union Pacific Big boys used to run mainly between here and Cheyenne – More of that later!

    There is a large HO model railroad in the museum.

    There is also preserved railroad stock outside including one steam loco.

    Onsite but completely separate from the museum is a preservation group working on a narrow gauge Denver & Rio Grande 1887 built 2-8-0 no 233. This is a long term project and hopefully will end up on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railway. I was lucky enough to be shown around the restoration shed where the parts were scattered...... 









Unfortunately the model railroad was behind glass which has caused reflections.

Amazing amount of work involved in these bridges. There were several others as well.









Left - An SDP40F built by General Motors in 1973-74.

Right - No. 833 a 4-8-4 Northern loco built in 1939 by ALCO (American Locomotive COmpany).  











Left -  A Union Pacific rotary snowplow. These were needed in this area as 100" of snow in the winter is not unknown!

 Right - The line up of stock in the outside shed. Not parked up with photography in mind though!




















 Another view of the stock yard.

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West Yellowstone, Montana

Harriman State Park, Idaho.

    This is just outside West Yellowsone so is included even though it is in Idaho!

    Now there are co-incidences and co-incidences!! Whilst driving from location to location we normally stopped for lunch in a rest area or a state park depending on how much time we had to spare. This day we were travelling from Jackson Wyoming to West Yellowstone (126 miles which is fairly short compared to some of the other relocations). Looking for a lunch and loo (restroom!!) stop we saw a sign for Harriman State Park and turned into the drive. Then we read the information board for “Harriman State Park and the Railroad Ranch”. Needless to say my wife did not believe me that I had any prior knowledge of that one!

    The railroad connection is that it ended up being owned by Edward Harriman who was the director of the Union Pacific Railroad and the President of the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was a summer residence for the family and a ranch which he paid staff to run all year. Bear in mind that the winter is 8 months long here and you will see the place was very underused!

    After his death his wife donated it to The State of Idaho and they opened it as a state park.

    Some of the buildings were open to wander around in. They were furnished as if the family had just nipped out for a walk. The tables were set with Union Pacific Railroad cutlery and china - all completely unattended!

 An information board about the Harriman Estate


 Stables and workmans cottage. In the stable was a rusting 1930's car - just left when the family left!


 The Harriman family house. They lived here but went to another adjacent house to eat. They entered the other house via a back door, sat down at the pre-prepared table and the cook would appear from behind a curtain to serve the meal. The family then went back "home".



Depot historical site

    After the railroad finally withdrew from West Yellowstone in 1981 (passenger trains had stopped by the 1960's) the Union Pacific donated the site to the town to do whatever they saw fit with it.

    The town decided to use the depot site as part of the towns historical walking tour. The depot and several buildings remain along with the water tower. A small museum is in the depot together with the tourist information office.









The passenger luggage storage building is now used as the police station. Main building in the background.


Unfortunately the sun was not being helpful here! This is the main station building.


 The railway company was, as ever, ready to turn a profit from the passengers. It built a large dining room where the passengers could eat when they arrived and before they left to tour Yellowstone park in horse and carriage and, later, charabanc.


 As the railway was only operated from April to September due to the weather there was no permanant staff at West Yellowstone. Staff came from other parts of the system for the summer period to operate the railway. There were 2 dormitories for them to stay in. This is the womens one (now the health centre). The male dormitary was burnt down many years ago.













The water tower and it's pump house also remain.







There is a coach on the site. It came from a travelling exhibition to celebrate the centennial of the state of Montana.

Really you get the impression that it is just dumped here and will eventually rot away!





Holiday Inn restaurant

    Now why should the Holiday Inn warrant a mention on this page? One day I walked past the hotel on the way to purchase dinner and I noticed that there was something inside the building next to the road. On closer inspection it was an old railroad car! The car had been in the town for many years as a house and then a meeting room. When the Holiday Inn was built they restored the car and built the hotel restaurant around it. Anyone passing is welcome to go in and have a look. The car is open and you just walk in and around it.















Beautifully restored and obviously cared for but just left open for you to help yourself on the "self-guided walking tour". 

You can just imagine what condition it would be in if this was the set up in the UK!!














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Livingston, Montana

Depot Museum

    The depot in Livingston is another building that contains several museums. One of them is the railroad museum. It is the largest of the museums there and contains mostly pictures and artifacts about the railroad and the connection with the town.

    The building itself is very ornate and out of context for the area it is in. The museum tells the story of why it is so large and ornate. It was because, in the late 1800's & early 1900's, it was effectively the gateway to Yellowstone National Park before the days of the automobile took the trade away.

    A branch line left from Livingston and wandered it's way to Gardiner. The depot in Gardiner was right next to the gate to Yellowstone park. The tourists used to arrive at Livingston from all over the US and stay the night in the town in one of the many hotels there used to be. The following morning they were back at the depot to catch a train to the park. On arrival at Gardiner they all alighted from the train and boarded stage coaches (later charabancs) and off they would go! The line to Gardiner closed in 1952 and there is no sign of the depot now.

 Left - the front of the depot building. The strange configuration of the windows is due to an extra floor being inserted inside during the 1930's. The lower archways as on the RH end used to continue across the front.


Below - The rear (or platform) side of the building. It was difficult to get a photo of the back as you can't get back far enough. The curved portico continues to form a half circle. The railroad is the other side of the fence. I am standing on what was the platform. 


 What used to be the other side of the fence!



Todays railway at Livingston.









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Hill City, South Dakota.

1880’s train. (Blackhill Central Railroad).

    A tourist railroad if you ever did see one! Quite interesting though as it has a compound Mallet as one of it's locos. It also has another that is being restored at the moment and is expected to be in service in a couple of years. The line was built by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad for the transporting of gold from the surrounding areas. A steeply graded line that really needed the grunt provided by the Mallet loco. The line has gradients as steep as 1in25 along with really tight curves!

 After the slog up the hill from Hill City. The Mallett No 110 takes on water at Keystone before the return run.




At Hill city there is a loco parked at the end of the depot as an advert for the railway. It used to work the railway up to a few years ago. No 7 was built in 1919 by Baldwins.











 No 110 on arrival at Keystone. Built by Baldwins in 1920. The railway has another the same (104) that is a restoration job!





















Up the hill and around the curves. A very slow slog up hill!















 There is also a model railway in the museum at Hill City. The depot building is Deadwood that we visited next. 

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Deadwood, South Dakota.

Depot Visitor Center.

    I think we all know the town of Deadwood "Oh! The Deadwood Stage is a-rollin' on over the plains," sang by Doris Day in 1953! Trish was getting fed up with me singing (just the first line) all the time! The town is also known as the resting place of "Wild Bill Hickok" and "Calamity Jane" who are buried in a cemetary on a hill above the town.

    There used to be two railroads here but now nothing for miles! The Deadwood Central Railroad 3ft gauge & Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad standard gauge.

    The only thing that is left is the depot building which is now used as the tourist information center. It has a room with the history of the railroads and the town.




Pictures of the depot. It reminds me of the MId Hants station at Arlesford but that might just be a bad memory!

It has been well restored and really looks good. It is however the last bit of railway in the town!













Model railway exhibit.

    Deadwood is really in the middle of no where. But for Bill and Jane it would just be another sleepy town in the black hills of South Dakota.

    So, when you wander around the town it is quite a surprise to find a model railway layout on display in the basement of one of the cheesy tourist shops! And it was free.

    It is the local model railway club that have opened the layout up for all to see. Quite good it is too. Put a dollar bill in the slot of the machine and 3 or 4 trains begin to traverse the layout














Unfortunately it is all behind glass and perspex so the pictures really don't do it justice. It was a good half an hour spent.





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Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Depot museum.

    Another town and another depot museum.... This one is in a massive building which reflects the importance of the town and it's railroad. No trains stop here now though! Cheyenne was also home to a large railroad works and stabling point.

    The museum is a big one and it has a model railroad in the loft. No railroad vehicles are in this museum - just artifacts and history.

    Also upstairs there is a lounge where rail fans can sit in leather seats and watch the real railway in comfort!












The depot from the front and former platform.





The inside is really palacial and a good job has been done with the architectural details. The far wall is new and the actual station extens beyond here. The far end is now a restaurant.






Upstairs in the museum on the way to the model railway there is a lounge area for rail fans to sit in air conditioned comfort and watch the real railroad operations just outside. There is a continuous stream of freights pulling up for crew changes. Some of these freights have 6 or seven locos on. 4 at the front 2 at the rear and an odd one or 2 in the middle! The length of them is most impressive.












4 pictures of the large model railroad layout upstairs. Static when we were there but it does work on special occasions. The local model railroad club maintain it.















Union Pacific Railroad works.

    Across the tracks from the depot museum is the remains of the massive works that used to be here. Just 3 or 4 bays of the roundhouse and a new engineering shed are on site now on the site. As some of you may know this is the depot that The Union Pacific Railroad now uses as it's steam base.

    Inside the roundhouse are the operating steam loco's that the UP uses on special occasions. The newest arrival here is a 4-8-8-4 Big Boy loco No 4014. It is undergoing restoration at the moment. Also in the roundhouse is 4-8-4 Northern No 844 and 4-6-6-4 Challenger No 3985.

    Unfortunately there is no public access to the roundhouse - so near yet so far!! I did try - believe me! They open the depot a couple of times a year.









The remaining part of the roundhouse and the UP sign on the new works. So close yet so far!!!











Stock in the UP works yard. Most of the coaches (cars) are from the UP steam loco service train. I think the item covered with the white tarpaulin is the tender from Big Boy 4014 which is in the roundhouse next door along with 844 & 3985.


Big Boy 4004

    We stayed on the outskirts of Cheyenne. Just down the road is Holliday Park (as in Doc Holliday of gunfight at the OK corral with Wyatt Earp fame). In this park is a plinthed Big Boy No 4004. It has been there since 1963 and is in very good condition - someone obviously cares for it.

    Reading the notice boards that are around it tells the story of getting it there. They extended a siding about 400 yards away and then placed panels of track in the front - pulled the loco forward - lifted the one in rear - placed in front...... Bit like the famous Wallace and Gromit scene in "The wrong trousers".



Big boy 4004 lazing in the park since 1963. We read the notice boards around it which mentioned that during the 1980's there was a flash flood in the area and the water level was up to the top of the driving wheels! THis possibly accounts foer why the loco chosen for restoration had to be brought in from California - over 1000 miles away. It came by rail and there are many youtube videos of the journey.
















Loco No 1242

    Yet another plinthed loco is in the town. At the botanical gardens in Lions Park No1242 an 1890 4-6-0 built by Cooke Locomotive & Machine Works of Patterson, NJ. It has been in the park since the late 1950's










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Laramie, Wyoming.

Depot museum and bridge.

    Touring from Cheyenne brought us to Laramie. We went to the visitor center and were provided with lots of ideas to do even though we had said we were there for only a couple of hours! Included in the leaflets were 2 on the railway so Ian was happy. We found yet another steam engine and a few wagons in the railroad heritage park (bit of grass next to the depot).

    The second leaflet was about the Union Pacific railroad yard. It had a potted history of what used to be there and what was there now. All the site can be viewed from a long footbridge that spans all of the facilities.










A wedge snow plough, caboose and a covered van were with the loco. 


 The loco hiding in the trees is No. 535 a 2-8-0 built by Baldwin in 1903. Photographing this loco was very difficult as the trees were sheilding it on this side. The other side had projector screens across various moving parts we think it was animated at some time - just looks a mess now!









The bridge that spans the tracks is a well known landmark and is now a listed building. It was restored a few years ago and was well there.










On the land below the bridge used to be a main works, a freight sorting (marshalling) yard and a loco depot with a huge roundhouse and associated equipment. I also found that a model exists based on the area.

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Greeley, Colorado.

Model Railroad Museum.

    The Colorado Model Railroad Museum  is a place that we wanted to see in 2013 but just ran out of time so made a note for another day – the day has arrived! It is a purpose built warehouse that is full of a model railroad layout on many levels and with many trains operating at the same time. And one of them was a circus train so Trish was happy.  There was about 10 people operating it when we were there. A good couple of hours spent wandering around.



The museum is located in a purpose built warehouse. Next to the real railroad lines!

























 Contained within the warehouse is the main HO layout which is HUGE. The walls are lined by display cases of models and real railroad artifacts.




It contains a full size caboose 





 I have purposely left the bottom picture large to show the extent of the contents.  



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Georgetown, Colorado.

Georgetown Loop Railroad.

    The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a rebuild of a railway that was dismantled in the 1930s. It was rebuilt during the mid 1970s and completed by the installation of the Devils high bridge in 1984.

    Its history began with silver and gold mining in the Clear Creek Valley some 45 miles from Denver. A 3 foot gauge line was built in the 1860’s by the Colorado Central RR with the intention of carrying on to Leadville Colorado where there was already thriving mining activity. Unfortunately they were beaten to Leadville by the Union Pacific which came by an easier route so the line stopped in the mining area of Silver Plume (middle of nowhere) some 2 miles from Georgetown. The line struggled on for the rest of the 1800’s and then survived on tourist trains from Denver just to see the sights. Car ownership then reduced this traffic and the railway closed in the 1930’s and all was dismantled. In the 1970’s the plan to revive part of the route was hatched.

    The feature that all the early tourists came to see was a loop at Georgetown and a curved trestle bridge some 100ft high on a gradient of 2%. This today is the impressive part of the trip.

    Georgetown and Silver Plume are only 2 miles apart but the railway is over 3 miles long to allow it to rise 640ft up the valley by the Georgetown loop and several hairpin curves.

The stock is from various sources and only one vehicle is an original from the route. Operation is with diesels most of the year as the fire risk in this area is too great to allow steam during the summer months. They only have one working steam loco No9 a three truck Shay loco built by Lima in 1923. The diesel we were hauled by was no 21 a 1940s-era, 44-ton General Electric diesel electric which we were told is the heaviest diesel on 3ft lines – a fact not checked!

The trip is a pleasant way to spend an hour (round trip). There is also a small museum at Silver Plume which we did not get time to call into. If you are ever in the area the railway museum at Golden near Denver (which includes a large G scale railway) and the Forney museum in Denver are also worth visits.


The Devils High Bridge as it's name proclaims. Apparently it stems from the Victorians worry about travelling across it - even at 3 miles an hour!




















 At Silver Plume is the workshops and a small museum.

This is No9 a Lima three truck Shay loco from 1923.








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Alamosa, Colorado.

Loco No 169.

    We overnighted in Alamosa en-route to Tucson Arizona. Having arrived the previous night we saw the loco and coach adjacent to the Civic Center in Cole Park. We had a heavy drive of 350 miles the next day but agreed to spend 30 minutes at the loco.

    30 minutes seemed fine until we met Jim who was working on the engine with 3 others. Jim was from the Friends of the 169 group who care for the loco and coach. Such was the interest and shared passion for steam locos that we eventually tore ourselves away after 90 minutes and started the marathon 350 mile trek into New Mexico. Even as we were leaving Jim was suggesting hotels to stop at when we come back to get dirty!

    Moves are afoot to restore 169 and use it on The Cumbres and Toltec Railroad which is only 30 miles away.


















Also with No. 169 was an old coach. This along with 169 was on display in a local park. It is amazingly complete with most of it's fittings still intact. Just a small amount of water damage to some of the roof panels and some graffitti scratched into the veneer. This really shows just how dry this area is - it preserves the display items.



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Tucson, Arizona.

Model Railroad Museum.

    A search of the internet for the Tucson area showed a model railway museum. It aslo showed it was closed during the summer! High time for tourists in this area is Jan - Feb when the temperatures are low at 50-70degrees! Summer temperatures are 105 - 115degrees and a lot of the attractions close down as being too hot.

    An email to the contact point on the website brought a reply that they work in the museum every Wednesday evening and I was welcome to come and have a look around!

    Another purpose built warehouse building that is the local model railroad club which opens it's doors to the public as a museum.

Outside there is a 7 1/2" (yes 7 1/2". Apparently the East coast of the US models 7 1/4 gauge and the West coast models 7 1/2" gauge!) sit on railway, a G scale railway, picnic tables and the obligatory real size caboose in one corner.

    Inside there are layouts in Z, N, HO, S, O and G. Also there is vintage tinplate, workshops, library, kitchen and walls covered with displays,  etc.....

    Not many pictures were taken here as I was so busy chatting and being introduced to all and sundry. Made more than welcome by all involved.





















Top pictures are general views of the inside of the clubroom / museum.


Middle left is Tombstone Arizona in HO scale.


Middle right is the N gauge layout.


Left is a Marx tinplate display is the style of a railroad car.

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Pheonix, Arizona.

The McCormick Stillman Railroad Park.

    Not far from where we stayed was this railroad park. It started in the 1960's with a donation of land to the city. This land then had a miniature railroad on it which was added to by bringing redundant railway buildings and rolling stock for display. Then the local model railroad clubs got involved and they now have their own warehouse in which there are layouts in Z, N, HO, O, G scales and 7 1/2" miniature railway has a workshop inside.



















7 1/2" and 15" passenger carrying railroads are outside and traverse much of the park.










There is a small railroad museum and stock in various locations. A caboose serves as a fast food outlet and a passenger coach as a birthday party venue. The main building is a replica of a local depot (Stillman) and several other depot buildings serve as the museum and shop. Even the police station on site is in a renovated railroad building!

 Above - 2 railroad coaches serve as a birthday party room and a meeting room.



Left - No6  is a 1907 Baldwin from The Magma Arizona Railroad. It is paired with 2 cars. One of the cars is the former presidential transport for  Herbert HooverFranklin RooseveltHarry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower.






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