Carson and Colorado Railway

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Carson and Colorado Railway
Overview
LocaleCalifornia and Nevada
Dates of operation1880–1960
SuccessorSouthern Pacific Company
Technical
Track gauge3 ft (914 mm)
Lengthc. 300 miles (480 km)

The Carson and Colorado Railway was a U.S. 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad that ran from Mound House, Nevada, to Keeler, California below the Cerro Gordo Mines. It was incorporated on May 10, 1880 as the Carson and Colorado Railroad, and construction on the railroad began on May 31, 1880. The narrow gauge track was chosen to reduce cost. Much of the route now parallels U.S. Route 95 Alternate, U.S. Route 95, Nevada State Route 360, U.S. Route 6, and U.S. Route 395.

The Carson and Colorado began operations with a single Baldwin 4-4-0, the Candelaria. The first train arrived at Keeler on August 1, 1883. The 300-mile (480 km) route reached an altitude of 7,100 feet (2,200 m) in Montgomery Pass.[1] The railroad served an arid area heavily dependent on mineral resources for economic activity. The line was reorganized as the Carson and Colorado Railway in 1892 to reduce accumulated debt.[2]

Sale to the Southern Pacific[edit]

From its inception, the Carson and Colorado was a hindrance to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad (V&T), the parent company of the C&C, who sold the line to the Southern Pacific Company in 1900. Darius Ogden Mills (part owner) was once quoted saying "Either we built the line 300 miles too long, or 300 years too early!" Silver and gold discoveries at Tonopah, Nevada and Goldfield, Nevada provided a major boost of revenues shortly after the Southern Pacific purchase.[2] From the time of the purchase until 1905, all of the C&C’s freight traveled over the V&T's trackage from Mound House to Reno, and vice versa. Because of the changeover from 3-foot (0.91 m) narrow gauge to standard gauge cars, all the freight had to be handled by hand at Mound House, which caused a great bottleneck, especially after the mining booms of Tonopah and Goldfield. Southern Pacific (SP) proffered an offer to purchase the V&T, but the price was placed too high. As a result, the SP began constructing the Hazen cutoff, which circumvented the V&T entirely after it opened. The northern 140 miles (230 km) from Mound House to Mina, Nevada was converted to 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge in 1905; and the remaining C&C was merged into the Southern Pacific's 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge subsidiary, the Nevada and California Railroad.[3] The Nevada and California Railroad was reorganized into the Central Pacific Railroad in 1912.[3] In the early 20th century, it operated under the name "Southern Pacific Keeler Branch". Portions of the line were abandoned in the 1930s and the 1940s, and the last narrow gauge common carrier made its final run on April 29, 1960.[4] The rails were removed in January, 1961.

The former parent company, Virginia and Truckee Railroad, has been reconstructed from Virginia City to a station near Mound House. Passenger (tourist) service has been restored along much of the original V&T right of way, with investigations into returning service to Carson City again in the future.

Locomotives[edit]

Number Builder Type Date Works number Notes
1st #1 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1880 5285 sold to Eureka and Palisade Railroad 1907
2nd #1 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-0 1914 41300 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #14 acquired 1928 sold to Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad #9 1933
3rd #1 General Electric 50 Tonner 1954 32226 sold 1961
2 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1881 5428 scrapped 1907
1st #3 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1881 5430 scrapped 1908
2nd #3 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1887 8791 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #3 acquired 1928 scrapped 1934
1st #4 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1881 55782 sold to Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad #7 1929
2nd #4 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1899 17124 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #4 acquired 1928 scrapped 1934
1st #5 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1882 6089 scrapped 1932
2nd #5 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1899 17123 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #5 acquired 1928 scrapped 1934
1st #6 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1882 6090 scrapped 1907
2nd #6 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1877 4223 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #6 merged 1905 scrapped 1926
3rd #6 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1903 22020 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #6 acquired 1928 scrapped 1934
1st #7 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1883 6687 scrapped 1932
2nd #7 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1903 22012 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #7 acquired 1928 scrapped 1935
1st #8 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1883 6689 scrapped 1932
2nd #8 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1907 31445 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #8 acquired 1928 donated to Sparks, Nevada 1955
1st #9 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1885 7604 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #16 merged 1905 scrapped 1911
2nd #9 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1909 34035 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #9 acquired 1928 donated to Laws, California 1960
10 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1885 7605 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #17 merged 1905 scrapped 1933
11 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-0 1881 5649 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #11 merged 1905 rebuilt to 4-6-0 1924 scrapped 1934
12 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-0 1881 5650 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #12 merged 1905 rebuilt to 4-6-0 1924 scrapped 1934
13 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-0 1882 6157 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #13 merged 1905 scrapped 1927
14 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1886 7939 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #18 merged 1905 retired 1945
15 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1889 9929 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #22 merged 1905 scrapped 1935
16 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1886 7941 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #19 merged 1905 scrapped 1935
17 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1887 8487 ex-South Pacific Coast Railroad #21 merged 1905 retired 1945, then used to provide steam for the SP engine terminal at Salem, Oregon until scrapped 1952.[5]
18 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1911 37395 ex-Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #12 acquired 1928 donated to Independence, California 1955
22 Schenectady Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1899 5399 ex- Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad then Nevada-California-Oregon Railway #22 acquired 1929 scrapped 1949

Towns and railroad stations served by the C&C[edit]

Route in 1883
Route as of 1931

Restoration effort[edit]

In Independence, California, a non-profit group re-incorporated the Carson and Colorado Railway. They have restored locomotive #18, which was left in Independence in excellent condition by the Southern Pacific in 1955. The locomotive moved under its own power for the first time in 62 years on Saturday October 15, 2016. The locomotive is currently housed in a two stall engine house at the Eastern California Museum in Independence, CA. There is close to 1000 feet of track for it to operate on. Former SP boxcars #1C and #15 are on rail with engine #18 as part of the exhibit.[8]

Gallery of C&C equipment[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Turner 1974 p.2
  2. ^ a b Turner 1974 p.4
  3. ^ a b Turner 1974 p.6
  4. ^ Likes 1975 p.83
  5. ^ "Locomotive Notes",Trains and Travel magazine, November 1952
  6. ^ a b "Carson and Colorado Route Map". Historical Society of Dayton Valley (Nevada). Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge, officially known as the Keeler Branch". Occidental College. Retrieved 10 December 2020 – via Callimachus.
  8. ^ "Carson & Colorado Railway". Carson & Colorado Railway. Retrieved 22 September 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Turner, George (1974). Slim Rails through the Sand (3rd edition). Trans-Anglo Books. ISBN 0-87046-016-1.
  • Likes, Robert C. (1975). From This Mountain. Community Printing & Publishing. ISBN 0-912494-15-8.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]