Royal Gorge herald Denver & Rio Grande Western
wreck trains
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    Train wrecks were not a rarity on the Rio Grande narrow gauge. Consequently the railroad had rescue and clean-up equipment, and pre-assenbled wreck trains made of special cars ready to go whenever needed. The Denver & Rio Grande Western had such wreck trains stationed in Salida, Gunnison, Durango and Alamosa. The Alamosa based wreck train was made of derrick OP with its boom car (flat car #06063), rail and tie car #06051, wheel and tie car #06092, work boxcars #04426 (cable car), #04444 (block car) carrying cables and the various wood blocks used during clean-up operations, and #04549 (tool car). This train included several other cars as well, used to carry supplies and as living quarters.

    Derrick OP was built in 1911 by the Denver & Rio Grande shops in Alamosa from a high side gondola and boxcar parts. Normally fitted with 3ft gauge trucks, OP could also be equipped with standard gauge trucks to be used on Rio Grande standard gauge lines. The hoist was operated by steam, produced by the locomotive pushing the derrick. OP was used not only to clean-up wrecks, but also to assemble rolling stock and as a general purpose crane in the engine terminals. At the end of its career, derrick OP was no longer used to lift wrecked locomotives, too heavy for its wooden structure. It was only able to handle lighter wood cars. Today, derrick OP is preserved on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad together with other elements of the D&RGW wreck train previously based in Alamosa.


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D&RGW derrick OP and its boom car, seen in Chama. It was used mainly to clean-up wrecks, but also for construction work in general.
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Work car (rail and tie car) #06051 used to carry rails and ties to the derailment sites. It was built from an 1887 flat car.
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Steam derrick OP, preserved today on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.
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Rail and tie car #06051, seen in Chama in 2002 after its restoration by the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.
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Work flat car #06092, seen during its renovation by the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama.
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Work boxcar (cable car) #04426, used by the D&RGW to carry the cables necessary for wreck clean-up operations.
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Work car (wheel and tie car) #06092 after it was repainted in 2002. It was used by the D&RGW to carry wheel sets and ties to the wreck sites.
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Work boxcar #04549, built in 1902 and later converted to a tool car. It is displayed in the light grey livery applied to D&RGW MOW equipment after World War II.



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