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The Vidler Tunnel
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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2011 05:20 pm
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Traingeekboy
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East slope bore in the background.


East slope bore entrance.


West slope bore entrance.


Interior shot of mine with tracks.


O-4-0 motive power.

From colorado history museum site at the Denver Public library: http://digital.denverlibrary.org/index.php

Although I cannot give specific details in dates and other details, I can give you some general info on the Vidler.

The Vidler was a tunnel planned as a crossing of the Colorado divide. Part of the plan was to mine out ore during the construction of the tunnel as a way to finance the entire operation. Although gold and silver was mined out, the concentration of ore was not enough to continue digging and the tunnel was not completed.

The plan was to run electrified two foot trains through the tunnel thus connect from a place above George Town on the east, to a valley above copper mountain in the west. Sadly the Moffat was completed and the Vidler project wasn't able to come to fruition as a rail carrier.

Over the years the tunnel was owned by numerous organizations until it came into possession of the city of Golden. Golden needed water; the Vidler was the perfect way to transport water, from the west slope where there was plenty of snow runoff, to the east slope where things are a bit drier.

With completion of the bore, Vidler tunnel became a financial success and is still in use today as an aquaduct that travels 1.6 miles under the great divide.

I was fortunate enough to go on a walk through with Will Stametz (sp) the hydrologist for the city of Golden's water supply. Another hydrologist who's name I do not recall right now, and my good friend Beth Simmons a geologist and author of a history of Idaho Springs and a history on one of the original dinosaur bone hunters, Arthur Lakes. Her Idaho springs book is available in the Idaho springs museum, so some of you may have read it.

My primary interest in video is as an art form. I am not usually concerned with what most people would want to see in a video anymore. I tend to shoot randomly and then look over my footage for interesting light forms and colors. In fact the video may seem sort of crazy and hard to follow. What I got from this journey was sound. There is a very unique sound quality when one is underground. Sounds tend to die quickly, and there is very little sound aside from the sound of your own breathing; which can't be captured in a video.

For me the video is about saving the sound of being deep in the rock, but it is also a record of a railway that never was.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/VideoGriff/videos/23/

From the city of Golden site:
http://www.ci.golden.co.us/Page.asp?NavID=680

http://www.ci.golden.co.us/files/2007%20vidler%20tunnel%20repairs.pdf

As I looked for links on the Vidler tunnel I came across articles about water. We model railroaders tend to be obsessed with the history of geology in terms of precious metals. These days water may be a more precious commodity as can be seen with the repurposing of the tunnel as a ways of transporting water.

http://www.hcn.org/issues/255/14133

Hmmm... I wonder if someone will model the Vidler bore on their layout as it should have been.

Last edited on Tue Nov 8th, 2011 07:28 pm by Traingeekboy



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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2011 12:31 am
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elminero67
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The ambition and energy and of our previous generations never ceases to amaze, that is alot of work



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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2011 06:09 am
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Traingeekboy
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It's pretty amazing to think how much rock was hauled out by hand.

I went out with my buddies tonight and one guy told us about a window well he added to his house. It took a manual laborer a week to dig a seven foot hole.

I do wonder what that line would have been like if it had been completed. We get kind of used to driving around and covering huge distances. That tunnel is still fairly remote and it's up at 12000 feet.



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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2011 01:46 pm
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Herb Kephart
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"It's pretty amazing to think how much rock was hauled out by hand."

Yes, and all that rock, and ore, was "won" by blasting.

Monumental effort. Great that it finally found a good use.


Herb 



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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2011 05:18 pm
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Traingeekboy
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My tunnel walk was interesting because all the people were very knowledgeable about rocks and mining. Will used to be a coal miner and had stories about cave ins. Beth spent a lot of time with the old mining families around idaho springs and would recount stories about all that.

I don't know if I got all the sound when Will was talking about the dud dynamite stick. He'd been told that as dynamite gets old it becomes very volatile, some say that even a flashlight is enough energy to set the stick off.

I got some hunks of gold ore on that trip. Could be gold or not in the rock. Who knows. The real issue with gold ore is that it's easy to find trace amounts of it. But if the density is not high enough it's not worth trying to mill it for the ore.

Actually, in idaho springs the most interesting thing is the Pheonix mine, not sure if I spelled it right. there are signs if you follow the road on the west side of town and they will lead you to a working mine that has a lot of stuff set up as a walk through museum. Most of the tour guides are old miners themselves and they can tell you a lot about mining. It was my first trip underground there and it kinda gave me a real liking for it. Even though the mine tour is only a short distance in, you really get a feel for what it must have been like in the old days. I plan to go back to that mine for another visit, just to get that feeling again. If it weren't so dangerous I might want to become a miner myself.

Last edited on Wed Nov 9th, 2011 05:23 pm by Traingeekboy



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