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Modeling the Gilpin Tram Part I
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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 12:57 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Does anyone else on this group model the Gilpin Tram?  I've been intrigued by this little line since I first saw some of the old grades back in the mid-1980s.  After some research, I learned how the 2' gauge Gilpin Tram served numerous mines, hauling gold ore down to mills in Black Hawk, and coal and other supplies back up to the mines.

So, about 20 years ago, I began modeling the Gilpin Tram in HOn30.  This small scalle has allowed me to model a decent amount of railroad in a fairly small space. 




The photo above shows the Gilpin Tram enginehouse, which was modifed by the railroad from a horse barn.  I had an article written up on this in the Gazette in 1989.  The small size fits into the layout pretty well.  That little structure out in front was a storage building for oil and other combustibles.


This iteration of my layout did not have room for a wye like the prototype did, so I put a small turntable out behind the enginehouse.   The turntable is a modified Peco N scale model sold at one time by B & F Hobbies, with a custom motorizing kit.  I purchased it about 20 years ago and it still runs great.  The shay locomotive is a modified Atlas N scale mechanism.


The focus of my modeling is to have operating sessions recreating the switching to the various mines.  Here is a morning shot showing Shay #4 heading up through Clear Creek Canyon (north fork) with a couple of empty ore cars, a water car, and caboose.  The water car was used to haul water to those mines that had a poor water source - the Gilpin Tram filled the tank car up at one of their water tanks, and dropped it off at the mine for a $10 charge.

I'll post more photos tomorrow - gotta go to bed now!

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 08:39 am
   
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mwiz64
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Very nice, Keith.... Very nice indeed.



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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 09:05 am
   
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W C Greene
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Mike-I am very familiar with Keith's work. It has inspired me for years. The Gilpin Tram is one of my "first loves" in narrow gauge and then I "discovered" the Silver City, Pinos Altos, & Mogollon RR which used the Gilpin Tram's first 2 Shays. Keith has published plans and his models in the "paper" press for years and even did an article with plans for my beloved SCPA&M. Get ready for some beautiful photos, we are lucky indeed to have Keith here on Freerails.

Woodie



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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 10:18 am
   
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Sullivan
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Echo what Woodie said. Keith has done some great articles on the Gilpin, including the ore cars and how he made his own up in resin.

The Gilpin was the first mining railroad I considered for modeling fodder and since it was 2-foot went along nicely with my addiction to the Maine railroads. I just didn't feel I could do it justice. Then I saw the Mogollon and what Woodie did with that and so decided to alter my plans and freelance a railroad for an actual mining company that existed in the Big Bend area of Texas.

Great to have you long for the ride, Keith, and looking forward to more eye candy. 



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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 10:18 am
   
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Herb Kephart
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Superb work, Keith.

Watch out hanging around here though--Woodie will have you modeling much bigger things if you don't resist!

Just kidding!




Herb 



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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 11:21 am
   
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W C Greene
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Herb-Keith hangs out with legends of narrow gauge history, not the likes of blacksmiths like me! However, Keith wants to know about others modeling the Gilpin Tramway, here are a few things that I have.




From left to right-Gilpin Tram water car #300, GT ore car-phase one, GT Shay #1, and GT snowplow #02. While these pieces are owned by the Mogollon Railway, they are still somewhat faithful models of Gilpin equipment. The water car is now MRy #301, ore car is #69, loco is still #1 as it would have been on the Silver City RR, and plow is GT (Gila Tramway) #02. So there, I do indeed have Gilpin equipment in New Mexico.

BTW-the water car and plow were built from Keith's plans.

Woodie



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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 11:52 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Mike, James, and Woodie:

Thank you for the nice comments on the Gilpin Tram postings. The Freerails group is a great group of modelers, and contains some of the most creative modeling I have seen.

Woodie, in your last post, you posted photos of your Gilpin roster. The loco is beautiful, as are the cars. The water tank car looks escpecially intriguing - I'd like to see more.

Gilpin Tram's little snowplow is sure "cute", if I'm allowed to say that.

And, there is an almost-prototype connection between the Mogollon in our model world - the real Gilpin Tram sold two shays to the Silver City, Pinos Altos, and Mogollon Ry, so who's to say more stock couldn't have been sold to the neighboring Mogollon Ry? Woodie, thank you for posting the photo.

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 01:01 pm
   
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W C Greene
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OK Keith, these are for you:







MRy #3, Rosa has spotted the water car on the smelter turntable. You can see both sides. As you might note, there are a couple of metal patches on this car since it had rusty holes when acquired from the Gilpin Tram. The car was renumbered 301 since the management wanted it that way.

Woodie



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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 01:14 pm
   
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Keith Pashina
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Woodie:

That's an awesome car model. I like the used and weatherbeaten feel of the model - the hose is an effective little detail, also.

MR #3 has nice proportions for a small tank engine, but it looks like the cab needs a new paint job :)

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Nov 8th, 2012 01:34 pm
   
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Keith Pashina
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I have always liked the mining industry, and it's relationships with railroads.  In Minnesota, my home state, the mining industry means iron mining, and the mighty Mesabi, Vermilion, and Cuyuna iron ranges.  These were all served, at least in more modern times, by standard gauge railroads.  It would be a challenge to model them, because nearly everything about them was massive.


The Tower-Soudan Mine was on the Vermilion Range, and might be considered typical for the industry.  I'd need a  lot of space if I chose to do it in HO.

I became interested in the copper mines of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Way up north on the Keweenaw Peninsula, numerous shaft mines mined the copper ore.  This range was mined from about the mid-1800s to about 1965.  In the early days, there were many narrow gauge railroads around.  Most of these were standard-gauged early on, but the 3' gauge Quincy & Torch Lake ran until 1945.


The Quincy Mining Company owned the 3' gauge line, and it was used to haul copper rock from the mines at the top of the hill about 6 miles downhill to the stamp mills on the shore of a bay off of Lake Superior.  This was a fascinating prototype, and there still is a lot to see today.  However, this was a large industry - the Quincy Shaf/Rock house, if built in HO, would be about 3' tall and 3' long - too big for me to model.


I modeled this area in HOn30, but had to greatly condense the models to fit my layout space.  This is a photo of a mine shaft/rock house I built in 1982.  I had a lot of fun with it, but this changed once I was exposed to the Gilpin Tram.


This is a photo taken about 1900, and is looking at mines served by the Gilpin Tram.  Most of the mines in this photo were served by spurs and branches off of the Gilpin Tram main line.  Numerous switchbacks were needed to reach many of the mines.  The mine industry here was very much modelable.  The mines were reasonably small, close to one another, had interesting architecture.  The Gilpin Tram more or less made a large half-circle around the towns of Black Hawk and Central City.  The mines and railroad were often perched up on the hillside above town areas - nice and compact for a model.  In the photo above, that is the outskirts of Central City in the foreground.


This photo is taken from about the same vantage point as the 1900-era photo. You can still see many of the mine ruins, and most of the railroad grade is still there.  Like many mining towns, the trees have really grown up once mining halted.


Most of the mines survive only in old photos - there are only a very few left of the hundreds that once were in the region.  Here is one of the old mines - the Frontenac Mine at the Gilpin Tram's original end of track.  At the left edge, the Gilpin Tram track ran under the ore loading bins.  Some friends and I found some old Gilpin RR ties laying around this area about 10 years ago.  Since this photo was taken, a lot of the backside has collapsed under the weight of snowy winters, but there is still stuff to see. 

 

Mines like the Frontenac appealed to me, because I could fit scale or near-scale sized models on my layout.  The many branches and spurs were excellent to model for operations - my preference is switching layouts, and that is basically what the Gilpin Tram was.  So, the decision was easy to switch to modeling the Gilpin Tram beginning about 1990 or so.  Well, there it is, a very long-winded explanation on why I chose to model the Gilpin Tramway, circa 1902.

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