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Exploring the SILVERTON RR grade & turntable

October 15, 2020 07:35PM
Funny, how things just happen to fall into place. This morning Jack and I left Ridgway early, planning to hike the Cascade trail to see 493 at the Concrete Wall. But I found I had left some key items at home, so we diverted to the Colorado trail from Little Molas Lake where fierce wind had us turning around after an hour, so we finally ended up parking at the Hwy 550/CR31 intersection and hiking to the re-built Guston shelter and section of track. Then we headed to the Corkscrew Turntable on a mile of very well preserved grade with an amazing number of ties still in place. I had hiked to the Corkscrew Turntable back in 1966 and found much of it in fairly well preserved condition if I remember that correctly, and I think the central rotating assembly was still pretty much intact. I was there again about 10 years ago with a group, and didn't linger long. This time I was shocked to see that only three of the original 16 wheels remain in place - one double truck assembly and one single (at least I couldn't see a fourth wheel on the other truck. Here are some photos (none of which are mine).

When the SILVERTON RR was operating, the countryside looked totally unlike today - logging and fires had removed virtually all of the tree cover. Today everything, except the railroad of course, looks much better.

corkscrew TT-6 (2).jpg

corkscrew TT-5.jpg

This is how I remember the 8 turntable dual-wheel support trucks to look in 1966 (even though I could be imagining things after 54 years)

corkscrew TT-2.jpg

This is how it looks today. The closest truck still has two wheels, the other one seems to have only one wheel, although it is very difficult to get a really good view, and the truck may be complete. The other truck sets are completely missing, with their connecting rods to the central pivot either torched off or unscrewed. As more of the massive timber structure of the turntable decays, and the wheels become more accessible, maybe they will disappear also. Any preservation or even restoration effort of this unique artifact would certainly be a serious undertaking.

Corkscrew TT.jpg

From the turntable we continued our hike about a mile down the grade to the bridge abutments of the Red Mountain Creek crossing. On the other side of the creek the grade is extremely overgrown with trees and brush and covered with boulders, and hard to follow. So we scrambled up to highway 550 and only had to do a few hundred feet of road walking to get back to the car at the intersection with county road 31 (the old road).
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Exploring the SILVERTON RR grade & turntable Attachments

Olaf Rasmussen October 15, 2020 07:35PM

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tgbcvr October 15, 2020 08:11PM

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rainbowroute October 15, 2020 08:17PM

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chamakid October 16, 2020 08:08AM

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Sharrod October 16, 2020 02:34AM

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RDannemann October 16, 2020 05:02AM

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chamakid October 16, 2020 07:36AM

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jgp1843 October 16, 2020 10:19PM



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