Category Archives: Narrow Gauge

Neil Clarke’s Collection – The Isle of Mull Railway

The Isle of Mull Railway

Neil Clarke’s Collection – A few pics taken on the Isle of Mull

Another railway visited and photographed by Neil Clarke, sadly, this time, no longer in existance.

Photos taken around the 1990s/2000s

Click on a pic for a larger version and use the side arrows to move on.

The Isle of Mull Railway was a 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) gauge line, 1 1⁄4 miles (2.0 km) long, which ran from the ferry terminal at Craignure to Torosay Castle, on the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. Originally it was known as the Mull and West Highland Railway. The line opened in 1983 and closed in October 2010. A limited service operated over the 2011 Easter holiday until 2 May 2011. It is now shown as operating from Friday 27 May 2011 until Thursday 1 September 2011. The Company’s lease ended in October 2011. Trains last ran in 2011 then it closed for good on 1 September 2011. The line was marketed as Scotland’s original island passenger railway.

PRESS RELEASE Issued 01/08/2012

Press release

With the imminent ending of the Mull and West Highland Narrow Gauge Railway’s ground lease at Torosay and no forthcoming interest to retain the line, the directors have taken the reluctant decision to lift, remove and dispose of their Isle of Mull assets.

It had been hoped that a purchaser of the castle would look sympathetically upon the railway as a valid tourist attraction and either take over the operation on Mull or allow its continuance with a new lease and license to operate. However it is understood that the castle and grounds have now been sold and the agents have advised that the railway is no longer welcome.

Extensive discussions with local authorities, the National Park and Scottish Enterprise might have offered an alternative location at Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond but time has run out for the move to the West Bank in Balloch . A most recent assessment of potential passenger volumes has suggested that a 10 ¼” gauge line would have difficulty in coping with the requirements of this proposed community rail link from Balloch village to Lomond Shores. It is hoped that the extensive work done to date by the Mull Rail team will be diverted now to progressing the Balloch proposal but with equipment capable of greater capacity.

The railway’s directors are therefore now seeking serious buyers for their 10 ¼” gauge locomotives (“VICTORIA” 2-6-2 steam tank locomotive and “FRANCES” Perkins 1000 series Bo Bo diesel hydraulic), 13 coaches, 1.5 miles of track, points and ancillary equipment.

Interested parties should contact the company’s web site: info@mullrail.co.uk.

NB  Press release  2012

 

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Railway Preservation in the 1980s and 1990s – July 2nd 1993

Railway Preservation in the 1980s and 1990s  July 2nd 1993

Still more photos from this old publication.

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Railway Preservation in the 1980s and 1990s – June 25th 1993

Railway Preservation in the 1980s and 1990s – June 25th 1993

Still more photos from this old publication.

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Neil Clarke’s Collection – The Heatherslaw Light Railway, Northumberland.

Neil Clarke’s Collection

The Heatherslaw Light Railway, Northumberland.

Another railway visited and photographed by Neil Clarke

Photos taken around the 1990s/2000s

Click on a pic for a larger version and use the side arrows to move on.

Welcome to the Heatherslaw Light Railway (The most northerly steam railway in England).

Travel on our 15 inch gauge railway, pulled by our steam locomotives “Bunty” and “Lady Augusta” to our diesel engine “Binky”, between Heatherslaw Station and Etal Castle on a return journey of 4 miles. Our rolling stock offers a choice of fully enclosed or partly glazed coaches to keep you dry, even on the wettest days. There are two wheelchair compartments provided for disabled passengers and the Guard is always on hand to help with boarding.

There is free parking available at Heatherslaw Station and Etal Castle. You are welcome to board the train at Etal Station; return tickets can be purchased from the Guard, but this is a cash only service. Passengers wishing to pay with a credit or debit card may have to use the Ticket Office at Heatherslaw Station.

The Railway runs along the banks of the River Till giving you stunning views of the Northumberland countryside. You also have the opportunity to spot some of the local wildlife that live on the riverbank, including swans, herons, ducks and even the occasional otter.

Why not break your journey at Etal Station and visit Etal Castle, or walk the short distance up to Etal Village with its thatched cottages and pub, or visit the Lavender Tearoom for refreshments, before catching a later train back to Heatherslaw.

 On your return to Heatherslaw Station you are welcome to browse in the Ticket Office gift shop, or climb the stairs up to the Model Railway Room to view our “G” gauge layout. Press the red button to make the trains work.

A short walk across the footbridge takes you to Ford and Etal Visitor centre and the working watermill, Heatherslaw Mill. The Heatherslaw Tearoom is also available to provide refreshments. There are toilet facilities near the visitor centre at Heatherslaw Mill and also at Etal Castle.

There are special rates available for school parties and coach tours. Please make enquiries regarding parties, train times and booking information at the Ticket Office on 01890 820244. For any other enquiries please call 01890  820317.

The management and staff thank you for your support and look forward to welcoming you to the Heatherslaw Light Railway.

On your return to Heatherslaw Station you are welcome to browse in the Ticket Office gift shop, or climb the stairs up to the Model Railway Room to view our “G” gauge layout. Press the red button to make the trains work.

A short walk across the footbridge takes you to Ford and Etal Visitor centre and the working watermill, Heatherslaw Mill. The Heatherslaw Tearoom is also available to provide refreshments. There are toilet facilities near the visitor centre at Heatherslaw Mill and also at Etal Castle.

There are special rates available for school parties and coach tours. Please make enquiries regarding parties, train times and booking information at the Ticket Office on 01890 820244. For any other enquiries please call 01890  820317.

The management and staff thank you for your support and look forward to welcoming you to the Heatherslaw Light Railway.

Passengers are invited to travel from Heatherslaw to Etal Station and back on our Christmas decorated train! The train will be hauled by one of our steam locomotives, “Bunty” or “Lady Augusta”. On returning to Heatherslaw Station, passengers will be shown up to the model railway room where they can enjoy refreshments. The model railway will be running to entertain the children while they are waiting to visit Santa. Families will be invited into the decorated grotto to see Santa who will provide each child with a quality Christmas gift. The Ticket Office gift shop will also be open for any last minute Christmas shopping!

Passengers have the choice of travelling on the 11am, 12:30 or 2pm train. Tickets must be pre-booked and paid for on the day of travel at the Ticket Office; we accept payment in cash, debit or credit cards. The train ride, refreshments and gift from Santa are all included in the price of £12 per person.

 

 

Railway Preservation in the 1980s & 1990s – February 12, 1993

Railway Preservation in the 1980s & 1990s

February 12, 1993

Not as much from this week’s publication.

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More of Neil Clarke’s Photos – Gorse Blossom Railway, Devon

More of Neil Clarke’s Photos 

Gorse Blossom Railway, Bickington, Devon

Sadly, this 7.25″ railway is now closed.  Here are a few of Neil’s photos to remember it by.

After the performance I had with my internet connection yesterday, I hope this is ok!

Click on a pic for a larger version and use the side arrows to move on.

 

Railway Preservation in the 1980s & 1990s – July 30th 1993

Railway Preservation in the 1980s & 1990s

July 30th 1993

More from an old publication.

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From Railroad Glory Days – Glen Brewer

D&RGW narrow gauge in the twilight years

Chama, Silverton and Durango

Article and all photos © Glen Brewer

 

I first encountered the Denver & Rio Grande Western’s remaining narrow gauge lines in 1956. I was already a steam enthusiast, and the D&RGW’s narrow gauge was still steam. Somehow, by begging, pleading or nagging, I had talked my parents into stopping in Alamosa on a family vacation to Colorado. We stayed at Bob Richardson’s Narrow Gauge Motel and museum. While talking to Bob, he drew us outside to witness the early evening passage of a real, steam powered, narrow gauge, freight train headed west with two engines and a full trainload of large pipes destined for the oil and gas fields near Farmington, New Mexico. Two days later, our family rode the D&RGW’s Silverton Train behind Engine 476. It was all steam, narrow gauge, with vintage wooden cars and gorgeous Colorado scenery: I never got over it.

In 1880 General Palmer’s “baby railroad” began an unprecedented expansion pushing forward on many fronts simultaneously. That was the same year the railroad began the conversion to standard gauge. The “San Juan Extension,” was just one front in a competition to capture territory. It was built to tap the mining riches of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains near Silverton. The extension reached Chama and Durango in 1881 and was in Silverton by July of 1882.

But by 1965, only 299 miles of D&RGW narrow gauge remained: Alamosa to Durango with branches to Silverton and Farmington, New Mexico. This was the last remnant of a once extensive three-foot gauge system stretching from Denver to Santa Fe and Ogden, Utah as well as to Durango and Silverton. At the peak in 1889, the railway operated 1,861 miles of narrow gauge. But by 1965 most lines had either been converted to standard gauge or abandoned. The Denver & Rio Grande, as it was originally named, was one of the first narrow gauge common carriers in the United States, the most extensive and among the very last.

D&RGW system in 1965. Narrow gauge exteded from Alamosa to Durango with branches to Silverton and Farmington. From Alamosa to Antonito was dual gauge as was the yard in Alamosa.

 

Business had declined severely on the remaining narrow gauge, and abandonment seemed imminent when, by good fortune or ill depending on your frame of reference, there developed a heavy demand for oil and gas drilling supplies and especially for pipe to supply needs near Farmington, New Mexico. The railroad management had no interest in investing further in the line, so only minimal maintenance was provided. Steam power and wooden cars remained standard until the very end, and that end came much later than it otherwise would have.

Of course, after my introduction, I always wanted to go back, but I always feared I would be too late. There was always something to keep me away (school, family, a new job with little or no vacation), but when I quit my job in Houston and headed to California to attend graduate school, I seized the opportunity; I made the trip by way of Chama, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado. The San Juan Extension was still intact, but the pipe business was done, and except for the increasingly popular Silverton Train, clearly business was once again on the decline. I fully expected all would be gone very soon.

 

Chama, New Mexico, Tuesday, September 7, 1965

My first stop was Chama, where the railroad already looked abandoned. Chama was a railroad town; a division point on the railroad. In earlier years it had been a very busy place. Road engines were serviced there as well as helper engines to assist eastbound trains over the 4% grade to Cumbres Pass.

Rotary snowplow OM called Chama home. Some winters, plows from Chama and Alamosa were both needed to keep the 10,015 foot high pass open for business. But the winter before my arrival, the railroad had stopped trying, simply embargoing the line when the snow fell.

My first view of Chama. I found it to be a very quiet place.

 

D&RGW Depot at Chama.

 

Looking railroad east.

 

Rotary OM would never again plow snow for the D&RGW, but it did for the C&TS.

 

Two stalls were all that was left of the once much larger Chama roundhouse with a turntable. Both turntable and stalls were too small for the larger 2-8-2s.

 

Chama water, coal and sand facilities.

 

Looking westbound from near the yard throat.

While I was walking all over the yard, taking photographs, an employee approached me. At first I was concerned that I was about to be evicted, but he was quite friendly. It was clearly a lonely job being master mechanic in Chama with little to do. I asked if the rotary was usable. He replied that he had officially reported it ready, as was expected by management, but it wasn’t and no one really expected it to be.

Always aware of the urgency of pressing on, I took a few more pictures and continued on my way to Durango.

Durango, Colorado, Tuesday, September 7, 1965

I was delighted to see that things were much busier in Durango. The yard was full of freight cars, and there were several engines under steam. Some of these engines were freight locomotives. And, of course, the Silverton Train ran daily all summer.

Durango was also a railroad town. The railroad founded it while ignoring the older settlement of Animas City just across the river. The branch to Farmington, New Mexico left the main line not far out of town. A smelter was built to process ores from the Silverton area, and the Rio Grande Southern Railroad connected Durango with Rico, Telluride and the D&RG’s own line at Ridgway completing what was once promoted by the passenger department as the narrow gauge loop. Both the smelter and the RGS were gone by the time I was there.

Once again I prowled the yard at will. Even though there were more employees in Durango, no one paid much attention to me. Things were much more open and accessible in those days. Much has changed in the years since the end of regular freight service. The yard was contracted after freight service ended. When the Silverton line was sold, fences went up, and access was only possible with an escort.

At Durango, I found 478 being coaled up.

 

478 with a full tender of coal. In those days you could walk all around the property without being chased off.

 

Apparently 484 had been out with a work train earlier that day.

 

Engine 476 returned with the Silverton train.

 

Durango to Silverton, Colorado, Wednesday, September 8, 1965

Silverton was a real boom town when the D&RG reached it. In early days, the railway operated Pullman service as far as Silverton, but more recently the service had deteriorated to a less than a daily mixed train. Three other narrow gauge lines once extended northward toward booming mining areas.

By the time of my visit, freight service had become virtually a thing of the past. What little freight remained had been diverted to Rio Grande Motorway. Passenger service was another matter. Newly mobile tourists had discovered the beauty of the Animas Canyon and the uniqueness and charm of the narrow gauge. Passenger business was booming to the point of stressing the resources of the D&RGW for engines and cars.

This was the day to relive my trip of 1956 aboard the Silverton Train. I was delighted to discover that it had lost none of its appeal after nine years although the crowds had surely grown. In addition to very conventional photo shots, I managed to capture two of the old wooden water tanks, decrepit but still serviceable in 1965. They were later replaced with retired tank car bodies.

The water tank at Tank Creek. I was always fascinated by this tank — too bad it is gone now.

 

Needleton tank is still there, but is no longer used. Both these tanks have been replaced with tank car bodies.

 

Engine 476 and ten cars, not quite downtown. Later the tracks were extended another block to Green Street, Silverton’s main street. People have always liked to pose for pictures in front of the engine.

 

Back in Durango, the 484 was still hot and parked next to the roundhouse. That is derelict K-27 464 behind it. It looked so pathetic, I didn’t even take a picture of it. It now operates on the Huckleberry Railroad in Michigan.

 

Engine 484 is currently operating on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

 

Durango, Colorado, Thursday, September 9, 1965

My last day in Durango, I followed the Silverton Train to Rockwood, where the tacks diverge from the highway for the rest of the way to Silverton, then I returned to Durango in plenty of time to see the freight extra leave on its two day trip to Alamosa.

Making up an Alamosa bound freight. Note the fancy brickwork on the back wall of the roundhouse.

 

478 doing the switching.

 

Engines for the freight are about ready.

 

Finally moving.

 

Off to the head of the train.

Thanks to Jimmy Blouch, Earl Knoob, Charlie McCandless on the Narrow Gauge Discussion Group, I now know quite a bit more about that train: Durango extra east with engines 493 and 484 departed Durango at 10:30 am with 8 loads and 26 empties. Engineer and fireman on the 493 were Holt and Rentfrow. On the 484, the crew was Headrick and Mayer. The conductor’s name was Henry. The train arrived in Chama at 6:50 pm with 13 loads and 54 empties. There was a bit of business conducted along the way. I watched at Carbon Junction as some pipe cars and idler flats were added into the train. I continued to follow for several miles, but with only a 55mm lens, most of the time the train was out of range. Finally, I said goodbye at a remote grade crossing and resumed my California travel. I never again saw a real narrow gauge freight.

On the 10th, the eastbound extra continued on to Alamosa at 1:00 pm after first making a Cumbres turn. The engines stayed with the trains, but an engine crew that had arrived from Alamosa on the 9th with a westbound freight extra returned to Alamosa with them. The Durango crew returned home with the westbound extra using its engines, the 487 and 483.

About ready to depart.

 

Pulling out of the Durango yard.

 

On her way to Alamosa.

 

Following the river below highway 550. Several cars were loaded with lumber.

 

At Carbon Junction, 25 minutes were devoted to switching and adding some pipe cars and idler flats into the train.

 

Crossing Highway US 550.

 

Note the crossing sign.

 

I said my good-bye there.

 

The end.

Excepting the Silverton branch, the last D&RGW narrow gauge train ran in December 1968. The line between Chama and Antonito was purchased jointly by the states of Colorado and New Mexico. They now operate as the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Rails were pulled up from Durango to Chama, and the Durango yard was condensed with a new turning loop. From Antonito to Alamosa the railroad, including yard trackage, had been dual gauge. The third (narrow gauge) rail was removed. The D&RGW continued to operate the Silverton line for several years, but finally sold it off in 1981. It now operates as the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge.

 

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More of Neil Clarke’s photos – The Chemin de fer du Vivarais (CFV)

More of Neil Clarke’s photos

The Chemin de fer du Vivarais (CFV)

Taken about the year 2000

Click on a photo for a larger version.

The Chemin de fer du Vivarais (CFV) – often called Le Mastrou or Train de l’Ardèche – is a tourist railway in the Ardèche region of the South of France. The metre gauge line is 33 kilometres (21 mi) long. The railway is renowned for its historical steam locomotives in Mallet articulated locomotive style, as well as a collection of historic rolling stock and diesel railcars.

 

The line runs between Tournon, in the Rhône Valley, and Lamastre in the Doux valley. From Lamastre, the original line ran a further 19 kilometres (12 mi) to Le Cheylard. Originally opened on 12 July 1891, the line closed on 31 October 1968, and reopened as a heritage line the following year. In 2008, heritage services were suspended due to lack of funds to repair steam locomotives, among other issues. In 2013, steam returned to the Vivarais and services were resumed.

 

 

Brief visits to Whitby and Norfolk

Brief visits to Whitby and Norfolk