Friday, September 9, 2011

Remainders of the great days of railroading (9)... the Nevada Northern Railway

The Nevada Northern Railway was a railroad in Nevada, built primarily to provide rail access to a major copper producing area in Ruth, close to Ely. The railway, constructed in 1905-06, extended northward approximately 140 miles from Ely to a connection with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Cobre. The copper ore was transported from Ruth to a smelter at McGill, not far east of Ely.

As a subsidiary of the Nevada Consolidated mining company, the primary purpose of the Nevada Northern throughout its history was the haulage of copper ores and products. Other freight traffic was also carried, however, and the railroad operated a daily passenger train between East Ely and Cobre until 1941. Local trains were also operated from Ely to Ruth and McGill for the benefit of mine employees and others until the 1930s.

Faced with declining ore reserves and low copper prices, Kennecott closed its Ruth-area mines in May 1978, thus ending the ore trains between Ruth and the McGill smelter. The smelter itself closed on June 20, 1983, and the Nevada Northern suspended all operations immediately thereafter.

In a series of donations beginning in 1986, Kennecott Copper Corporation transferred the entire Ore Line, as well as the railroad's yard and shop facilities in East Ely, to the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation, a non-profit organization which today operates the property as the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.

In summer, there are daily trains between East Ely and the former mine, and between East Ely and the former smelter.
The main line to Cobre still exists, but is not used any more. There were revivals of mining at McGill, and several plans of building power stations north of Ely, which would bring new traffic to the line.

In East Ely, the depot and the machine shops, engine shed, coaling towers and other buildings are preserved in the original state.

It is a real travel back in time to walk around here. In the engine shed, even the toilets, showers and lockers are preserved. 
Engine 40 in the shop in East Ely

Monday, September 5, 2011

Denver and Rio Grande Western.... remainders of the great days of railroading (8)

After 1870, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad built an extensive network of 3 foot narrow gauge lines in Southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. In 1929, the railroad operated 805 miles of track and had 91 steam engines. They even operated a long distance passenger train from Alamosa to Durango, the "San Juan". The coaches had reclining seats and there was a parlor/dining car. The first part of the line to Antonito was three tracks, so it could be used by narrow gauge and standard trains. The Rio Grande Southern additionally operated 174 miles with 13 engines in 1929.
In 1967, the Rio Grande stopped operation except of the branch from Durango to Silverton, which was "embarrasingly" successful. The weekly train started to be used by tourists and they even had to built new cars in 1964. In 1979 this operation was bought by Charles Bradshaw, who continues to operate it.
Whereas the Silverton line is quite commercial and touristy, the other part of the line from Chama to Antonito, preserved by the states of Colorado and New Mexico and operated by the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway is a step back in time.

You are free to wander around, admire the historic depot and the wide selection of material standing around in Chama.

There is one daily pair of trains and with 64 miles, it is probably the longest daily operated steam train run remaining in the world.
The boiler of one of these rotary snow plows exploded on the similar Rio Grande Southern.
The original wood coaling tower is still used

Living in the desert (3) .... annals of architecture (2): the earthship

Earthships are sustainable homes made from recycled materials.

The pictures show an earthship village close to Taos, New Mexico
The walls are made of tyres, bottles and metal cans.
Water is collected and used several times, finally to irrigate plants in the inside and outside gardens. Only for times of extreme drought water has to be pumped up from a well. Electricity is generated by solar collectors and windmills. An intricate system of ventilation and heat collection makes air conditioning or heating redundant.
The buildings have quite a Gaudiesque appearance