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Colorado and Southern Railway

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Colorado and Southern Railway

Colorado and Southern Railway
Schematic map of C&S lines
Reporting mark C&S, CS
Locale Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico
Dates of operation 1898–1981
Successor Burlington Northern
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Previous gauge 3 ft (914 mm)
C&S Steam locomotive #71 1941.
C&S Engine 641, the line's last operating standard gauge steam locomotive, used on the Climax-Leadville run until 1962. On display in Leadville; photo 2010.

The Colorado and Southern Railway (reporting marks C&S, CS) was an American Class I railroad in the western United States that operated independently from 1898 to 1908, then as part of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad until it was absorbed into the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1981.

The railway began as the consolidation of bankrupt railroads on 1898. The Colorado Central Railroad and Cheyenne and Northern Railway were brought together to form the Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf Railway in 1890. When Union Pacific went bankrupt in 1893 they were separated from the Union Pacific and united with the Denver, Leadville and Gunnison Railway and others, by Frank Trumbull to form the Colorado and Southern Railroad in 1898. In 1908 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad bought control of the C&S. It would later merge into the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1981.

At the end of 1970 it operated 692 miles of road on 1116 miles of track; that year it reported 1365 million ton-miles of revenue freight. In 1980 route-miles had dropped to 678 but ton-miles had ballooned to 7230 million: Powder River coal had arrived.

C&S was also the parent company of the Fort Worth and Denver Railway, which ran from a connection at Texline south and east into Texas. The FW&D was established as a separate company because Texas law required that railroads operating within its borders must be incorporated within that state.

Narrow gauge

The Colorado and Southern narrow gauge lines were formed in 1898 from the Colorado Central and the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroads. The narrow gauge had four distinct lines: the Platte Canyon Line from Denver, Colorado to Como, Colorado, the Gunnison Line from Como to Gunnison, Colorado via Alpine Tunnel, Highline between Como and Leadville, Colorado, and the Clear Creek line from Denver to Silver Plume, Colorado. Major Branch lines were the Baldwin branch between Gunnison and Baldwin; the Keystone from Dickey, Colorado to Keystone, Colorado; the Blackhawk branch between Forks Creek and Central City, Colorado; the Alma Branch from Como to Alma, Colorado; and the Morrison Branch from Denver to Morrison, Colorado. The Colorado and Southern narrow never owned a new engine, all motive power coming from the former companies.

Downfall of the narrow gauge

Colorado and Southern railway station, Leadville, Colorado

The Colorado and Southern narrow gauge was slowly abandoned piece by piece for 33 years between 1910 and 1943. The first line to close was part of the Gunnison Line between Hancock and Quartz. This included Alpine Tunnel, rail was not removed until the 1940s though. The isolated track between Quartz and Gunnison and Gunnison to Baldwin was leased and later sold to the Golden, Colorado and Idaho Springs. This included the Blackhawk branch. The dual gauge third rail that allowed narrow gauge trains to run between Denver and Golden was also removed. The segment between Denver and Golden still exists today to serve the Coors Brewery. Most of the track was removed from Waterton to Chatfield, Colorado in 1942 and the rest was converted to standard gauge, ending all narrow gauge service out of Denver. The last narrow gauge operation between Leadville and the Climax mines was converted to standard gauge due to heavy traffic from World War II. The last Colorado and Southern narrow gauge train, pulled by engine 76, ran the 28 mile roundtrip on August 25, 1943. The next day standard gauge trains began hauling the load. The C&S narrow gauge was now part of history.

Narrow gauge today

An excursion train of the Leadville, Colorado and Southern stops at the French Gulch tank

In contrast to the preserved D&RGW narrow gauge equipment and infrastructure, few traces of the Colorado & Southern remain. Today there are five surviving Locomotives: C&S #31 is at the Georgetown Loop was rebuilt in the 1980s and is active in the summer months.

Predecessor railroads

The following lines were consolidated between 1890 and 1900 to form the C&S:

See also

References

External links

  • Colorado Historical Society: C&S Collection
  • Colorado and Southern Railway from the Handbook of Texas Online
  • Fort Worth and Denver Railway from the Handbook of Texas Online
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