Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad

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Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad
STEEL BRIDGE THROUGH PHANTOM CANYON, COLORADO.jpg
Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad Adelaide, Fremont County, Colorado bridge in Phantom Canyon
Overview
LocaleColorado
Dates of operation1893–1915
Technical
Track gauge3 ft (914 mm)

The Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad (F&CC) was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge railroad running northward from junctions with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad at the mill towns of Florence and later moved to Cañon City, Colorado, on the banks of the Arkansas River, up steep and narrow Phantom Canyon to the Cripple Creek Mining District, west of Pikes Peak. It was founded in 1893 and went out of business in 1915

History[edit]

Started in 1893, it was the first railroad to reach the new, booming mining district from the "outside world" and as a result it earned substantial profits in its first years. The railroad hauled people and goods into the mining district, and ore concentrates from the mines south for milling in either Florence, through a branch line to Canon City, or transfer to the D&RG for milling in Pueblo, Colorado. The F&CC's first main terminal was located in Victor, the "second city" of the district but its branch lines served many of the largest mines within the area.

Ultimately, the F&CC began to struggle financially as other competing railroads, built to the 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge, Midland Terminal and Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railroads entered the district from Colorado Springs from the north or east. In addition, flash floods washed out significant sections of the F&CC mainline in the narrows of Phantom Canyon several times. By the early 1900s, the railroad was in serious financial trouble and merged with other railroads of the area under the Cripple Creek Central holding company. A final, large flash flood destroyed enough of the F&CC's right-of-way to convince its new owners it was financially unwise to spend money rebuilding it; and the line was abandoned and scrapped.

In 1912, the Adelaide Phantom Canyon bridge–named for the nearby settlement of Adelaide–was abandoned.[1] The railroad went out of business in 1915.[2] The F&CC's well-kept motive power, twelve 2-8-0 Consolidation freight engines, six 4-6-0 Ten-Wheelers passenger engines, and one 2-4-4T engine to power commuter trains were quickly sold to other area 3 ft (914 mm) gauge railroads. An F&CC subsidiary, the Golden Circle Railroad, which operated 3 ft (914 mm) commuter routes within the district itself, continued to operate for several more years after its parent's abandonment.

Today Phantom Canyon Road, which incorporates much of the original grade for this route but has fewer crossings of the creek, is part of the Gold Belt Byway and is open to traffic for most of the summer months. The Canon City branch roughly follows County Road 123 from the Phantom Canyon Road to US 50 near Canon City. The graded gravel Phantom Canyon road is suitable for regular cars and has a unique bent bridge.

Locomotives[edit]

Number Type Builder SN Built Disposition Notes
1 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14185 12/1894 Unknown.
2 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14186 12/1894 Unknown.
3 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14352 7/1895 Sold in 1917 to Denver & Rio Grande #425. Renumbered to D&RGW #315 in 1924. Currently in operational condition at the Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, New Mexico.
4 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14353 7/1895 Sold in 1918 to Montana Southern #1. Scrapped 1935.
5 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14513 10/1895 Sold in 1917 to Denver & Rio Grande #427. Renumbered to D&RGW #317 in 1924. Scrapped 1948.
6 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14514 10/1895 Unknown.
7 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14768 3/1896 Sold to Cripple Creek & Colorado Springs Railroad #35. Sold in 1920 to Denver & Rio Grande #320. Renumbered D&RGW #424 in 1924. Scrap 1938.
8 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14769 3/1896 Sold in 1917 to Denver & Rio Grande #428. Renumbered to D&RGW #318 in 1924. Currently on display at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. Colorado.
9 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14770 3/1896 Sold in 1917 to Denver & Rio Grande #429. Renumbered to D&RGW #319 in 1924. Wrecked and Scrapped 1951.
10 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 14771 3/1896 Sold in 1917 to the Uintah Railway #12. Sold in 1937 to the Eureka-Nevada #12. Currently on display at the Nevada Southern Railway Museum.
11 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 15246 3/1897 Sold in 1917 to Denver & Rio Grande #426. Renumbered to D&RGW #316 in 1924. Scrapped 1946.
12 2-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 15247 3/1897 Sold in 1920 to Montana Southern #2. Scrapped 1935.
20 4-6-0 Schenectady Locomotive Works 5007 4/1899 Sold in 1916 to the Rio Grande Southern #20. Currently operational at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado.
21 4-6-0 Schenectady Locomotive Works 5008 4/1899 Sold in 1916 to Rio Grande Southern #25. Scrapped 1940.
22 4-6-0 Schenectady Locomotive Works 5399 1/1900 Sold to Nevada-California-Oregon #22 in 1915. Moved to the Carson & Colorado as Southern Pacific #22 in 1928. Scrapped 1949.
23 4-6-0 Schenectady Locomotive Works 5420 1/1900 Sold to Nevada-California-Oregon #22 in 1915. Moved to the Carson & Colorado as Southern Pacific #23 in 1928. Scrapped 1946.
24 4-6-0 Schenectady Locomotive Works 5421 1/1900 Sold in 1916 to Rio Grande Southern #22. Scrapped 1946.
51 2-4-4t Schenectady Locomotive Works 4740 5/1898 Sold in 1914 to Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railway #10. Built as Golden Circle Railway #51. Sold to F&CC #51 in 1900. Scrapped 1935.
52 4-6-0 Schenectady Locomotive Works 5006 4/1899 Sold in 1920 to Kentwood, Greensburg & Southwestern Railroad. Built as Golden Circle Railway #52. Sold to F&CC #52 in 1900. Presumed scrapped.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Baughn (2007). "Adelaide Bridge". Bridgehunter. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  2. ^ McClellan, Barbara (Summer 1971). McClellan, Barbara (ed.). "A Colorado Short Line Railroad: The Florence and Cripple Creek 1894-1915". Arizona and the West. Journal of the Southwest. 13 (2): 129–142. JSTOR 40167621.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cafky, Morris(1949?) Rails Around Gold Hill
  • Feitz, Leland, Cripple Creek Railroads, 1968, Golden Bell Press
  • Ferrell, M. H. (1969?). The Cripple Creek Road.
  • Lewis, Allan C. (2002). Florence & Cripple Creak Railroad : Forty Miles to Fortune. Denver, CO: Sundance Publications, Limited. ISBN 978-0-913582-72-5.
  • McFarland, Edward M (1984). The Cripple Creek Road : a Midland Terminal guide and data book. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-87108-647-1. OCLC 9044886.
  • Wilkins, Tivis E. (1976) Colorado Rail Annual No. 13: A History of the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad

External links[edit]