A "Before and After" of the ATSF-C&S Station in Colorado Springs
Author: D. B. Arthur
Date: 07-08-2024 - 19:40

Here's a photo taken in 1964 of MoPac's northbound Colorado Eagle at the Santa Fe station in Colorado Springs with a Texas & Pacific E unit. T&P was a subsidiary of MoPac. The train ran east-west from St. Louis to Pueblo and north-south from Pueblo to Denver. In the photo, the train is headed for its terminus of Denver. The Santa Fe station is behind the E-unit. Note the bridge girder to the right of the unit as the train is sitting on a bridge spanning Pikes Peak Ave. I do not know who the photographer was.

Until the mid-1970s, all northbound trains used the ATSF line through the city and all southbound trains used the DRGW line, which is located on the west side of the Central Business District. The ATSF line had many grade crossings in the northern reaches of the city and, with declining traffic levels, it was decided to consolidate all traffic on the DRGW line between Palmer Lake, on the north side of the city, and Crews, on the south side. Where the Joint Line once had double-track through the entire area, the railroads thus created a bottleneck, and this was just before the Powder River Basin coal trains began operating where traffic levels skyrocketed. Probably not one of the smartest moves, but the desire was strong to get rid of all those grade crossings. I remember reading in Pacific News that this was the first time that Santa Fe track crews had to figure out how to pick up continuous welded rail from a roadbed and load it back onto a train for use elsewhere.

As mentioned earlier, at the Santa Fe station, the major highway on the north side of the complex, Pikes Peak Ave., used an underpass under the Santa Fe tracks. With the line being abandoned, there was obviously no longer a need for this underpass and it has since been filled in, with the street returning to surface level.

The Google Streetview image is composed pretty closely with the photo that was taken in 1964. The other photo was taken from an adjecent building as the station has been repurposed into an agency that promotes development in the city. See website.

When built, the station had a pedestrian subway tunnel linking the various tracks with the waiting room, but this tunnel was later removed and the risk was taken that passengers would get wacked by trains! This subway tunnel system can be seen in the 1950s photo taken of the mother and son standing on the platform.

According to my DEC 1956 Official Railroad Guide, CB&Q ran four cars to/from Colorado Springs, using the Denver Zephyr to/from Denver and DRGW's Royal Gorge to/from Colorado Springs. The cars were a 10 roomette 6 double bedroom standard sleeper; a Slumbercoach (24 single rooms, 8 double rooms); a chair car and a Vista Dome Chuck Wagon (lunch counter, coffee shop, lounge). The cars would arrive at the Rio Grande-Rock Island station on the west side of town. A switch engine had to bring them over to the Santa Fe station for their departure, later that day, on the northbound Royal Gorge. The ORG shows five northbound trains using this station in 1956:

CS 2-22 at 05:15 Texas Zephyr
ATSF 190 at 06:00 Streamliner
DRGW 4 at 08:11 Colorado Eagle
DRGW 2 at 13:10 Royal Gorge
CS 8-28 at 16:08 Un-named

Rock Island also offered service linking Colorado Springs and Chicago, but their train only used the CRIP-DRGW station on the west side of town that survives today as a restaurant.

I have mixed feelings when I see photos like these. It's nice that the station has been preserved, but, in a perfect world, it would have been nicer still to have kept it as a train station. If the Front Range corridor had ever been, or ever will be, developed, with frequent trains running between Cheyenne, WY and Pueblo, this station would have fit in very nicely, even for ACELA type high speed trains, if it ever progressed that far. They could have built an elevated, BART-like structure on the north side of the city to avoid all those grade crossings, but I'm sure the NIMBYs would have had a cow over that proposal. And NIMBYs have lots of clout. Turning Denver Union Station from a run-through station into a stub-ended one was another bone-headed move. Now, the place is just barely a train station.

[i.ibb.co]

[i.ibb.co]

[i.ibb.co]

[catalystcampus.org]

https://i.ibb.co/TwBMSGc/T-P-E-unit-Colorado-Springs-1964.jpg



Subject Written By Date/Time (PST)
  A "Before and After" of the ATSF-C&S Station in Colorado Springs D. B. Arthur 07-08-2024 - 19:40
  Re: A "Before and After" of the ATSF-C&S Station in Colorado Springs RA Phillips 07-08-2024 - 20:06
  Re: A "Before and After" of the ATSF-C&S Station in Colorado Springs D. B. Arthur 07-08-2024 - 20:27
  Re: A "Before and After" of the ATSF-C&S Station in Colorado Springs RA Phillips 07-08-2024 - 20:53
  Re: A "Before and After" of the ATSF-C&S Station in Colorado Springs Bill Webb 07-09-2024 - 08:14


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