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Modeling 'The Gilpin Tram' - pt.I
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 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2012 03:52 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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The mines and mills in Gilpin County give a lot of character to any scene modeling the Gilpin Tramway, or the Colorado & Southern branch to Black Hawk and Central City.

The history of the area was one of a mining district that got going before the Civil War, and evolved over the years with changes in mining technology and the gold-bearing ores (which tended to become chemically different with depth).

Many of the early mills were more barn-like than the typical Colorado Stamp Mill we are used to seeing.  Some of these mills were modifed and upgraded, and ore bins built to receive ore from Gilpin Tram cars.  You can see this in the Polar Star, Bonanza, Randolph, Penn, and Eagle Mills, among others.  Mills built in the late 1800s tending to be the familiar shape, cascading down the hillside.  Examples of this type of mill would be the Avon, Oliver, and Iron City mills.  Other structures were used for concentrating gold ores - these concentrates were then shipped to other mills for further processing.  An example of a concentrator would be the Rocky Mountain Concentrator.

Fortunately, there is a lot of information out there to find and use.  For someone modeling the Black Hawk/Central City area, modes based on the prootype structures will really help capture the flavor of the area.

So, for a modeler wanting to build models of some of the mills in the area, let's look at sources of kits and drawings available (based on what I can remember as I write this!). 

ORE PROCESSING KITS AND DRAWINGS AVAILABLE FOR GILPIN COUNTY

The Avon Mill was located near Nevadaville, on Quartz Hill.  This mill was served by the Gilpin Tram.  Drawings of this mill are available from Mike Blazek.  These drawings are available in Mike's Gilpin Tram Workbook 3, or separately direct from him.




The Eagle Mill (below) was in Black Hawk, and served by the C&S.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




The Gold Coin Mill was a large complex on Quartz Hill, in Nevadaville, and served by the Gilpin Tram.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




The New York Mill (below) was in Black Hawk and served by both the C&S and Gilpin Tram.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




The Oliver Mill was seen in previous posts, and located in Chase Gulch.  The Gilpin Tram may have had a spur serving this mill.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




The Penn Mill (below) was in Black Hawk, and served by the C&S.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




The original configuration of the Iron City Mill was in Black Hawk, and the first construction was served by the C&S, and later by the Gilpin Tram after a major expansion.  This mill was offered as a kit by Trains of Texas about 25 years ago.




Below is the Polar Star Mill, located in Black Hawk, and a good customer of the Gilpin Tram and also served by the C&S.  This mill survives today.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




Down in Black Hawk was the Rocky Mountain Concentrator, (shown below) which surprisingly, was an ore concentrator!  This very interesting structure was served by a switchback spur by the tramway, and got coal deliveries from the C&S.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




The Tucker Mill is shown below, and was at the end of a short branch off the Gilpin Tram mainline in Chase Gulch.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




The Little Red Mill is not the real name of this mill, located in Mountain City,  but the name given to it by modelers because it's earlier names were unknown.  This mill is available as a kit in several scales from Wild West Scale Model Builders.




Last, there were the very interesting Randolph Mill (shown at right in the photo below), and the Chamberlain Sampling Works (left rear of photo), in lower Black Hawk, and both were served by the C&S and Gilpin Tram.  Drawings are available for both structures from Mike Blazek.




That sums up what mill buildings are available as kits or drawings for modelers.  There are many other very intriguing mills out there - we'll take a look at those in future posts.

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2012 04:39 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Like the mill buildings, the mine buildings in Gilpin County tend to be distinctive.  Following their architecture will define what area you're trying to model.  The Gilpin County mines look noticeably different compared to mines from Cripple Creek or the San Juans.

These mines really got going before the Civil War.  I think several of the original buildings were later expanded or repaired to the mines seen in the Gilpin Tram era. The first structures tended to resemble simple barns or sheds.  As the shafts deepened, headframes were built, which were usually enclosed (the shaft headframe is easily spotted as it protrudes above the roofline).  These mines were first simple wood structures, and later many of the walls and roofs were covered in painted tin siding, or sometimes tarpaper.

There were hundreds of mines in Gilpin County at one time or another, and only a fraction of them were directly served by the Gilpin Tram.

MINE BUILDINGS AVAILABLE AS KITS OR DRAWINGS

Here is a quick look at all the mine buildings for which there are kits or drawings available (based on my memory at the time I write this).

The Belden Tunnel was near the head of Chase Gulch, and next to, but not directly served by the Gilpin Tram.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




Next, we see the Buckley Mine located in Eureka Gulch, and served directly by the Gilpin Tram.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




Below we see the California Mine, located atop Quartz Hill.  We all have scene a picture of shay #3 switching ore cars at this mine, but the photo below gives a better idea of how large this mine really was.  Drawings are available from Mike Blazek.




Next, we see the Castle Rock Mine, which we saw in a previous post.  This was above the Gilpin Tram mainline in Chase Gulch, but not located directly on it.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




The Concrete Mine was reached by several switchbacks on the Gilpin Tram on Gunnell Hill.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




Next, the Quartz Hill Mine was the subject of an article I wrote for Gazette, and now a kit from Wild West Scale Model Builders. 




Below, we see the Federal Mine located near Russell Gulch.  This mine still stands.  It may have been directly served by the Gilpin Tram.  This mine is available in several scales from Wild West Scale Model Builders.




Next, we see this greatly enlarged fragment of a photo showing the Freedom Mine, located on top of Winnebago Hill.  This had a spur into it off the Gilpin Tram mainline.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




This mine shown below was the Gold Collar Mine was located in Prosser Gulch.  This mine was up the hillside above the Gilpin Tram, but had its own spur down at track level.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




The Grand Army Mine is shown below, and was one of the steady shippers on the Gilpin Tram.  Parts of this building have survived.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




The Grand Central Mine is well-known to modelers - it has been offered as a kit over the past 25+ years from Taurus, Classic Miniatures, and maybe others.  It is still available as a kit today - this mine was served by the Gilpin Tram.




Below is a view of the Gunnell Mine (lower left) and Whiting Mine (center above the Gunnell) - both served by the Gilpin Tram.  Drawings of this mine were published by me in the Gilpin Railroad Quarterly (historical society newsletter, now out of print), and are still available from Mike Blazek.




This well-dressed woman is the wife of H.H. Lake, the school superintendent in Central City, and also a photographer who took many good photos of railroads and mines in the area.  At the upper left of this photo, you can see the James Henry Mine, served by the Gilpin Tram.  You never know what subjects turn up in some of the family photo collections!  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




what the Flack is this?  (sorry, I couldn't resist).  This is the Flack Mine, on the western side of Quartz Hill.  This structure still exists.  It was not served directly by the Gilpin Tram, but located close to the ends of two of the mining branches.  This mine was documented by Joe Crea (seen in this photo).  This mine is available in several scales from Wild West Scale Model Builders.




The photo below shows the Pozo Shaft, once available as a kit from Link & Pin Hobbies about 20 years ago (if my memory is correct).  This was near Nevadaville, nd near, but not served by, the Gilpin Tram.  Thsi structure still exists.




The Queen of the West  Mine was a Chase Gulch mine we saw before in one of my earlier posts.  This mine was served by the Gilpin Tram.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




Below, we once again see the Robert Emmet Mine in Chase Gulch (refer to earlier posts for more information).  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




Below, we are looking at the St. Louis Mine, located at the end of the Buckley Mine Branch, and served directly by the Gilpin Tram.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




This image below shows the Virginia Mine located immediately below the Queen of the West Mine.  Drawings of this mine are available from Mike Blazek.




The mine shown below is a drawing of the Wood Mine, located in Prosser Gulch and served directly by the Gilpin Tram.  This is an example of a drawing available from Mike Blazek (only one elevation of this drawing set is shown here).




As far as I know, that is all of the mines along the Gilpin Tram that I am aware of available as drawings or as kits.

One remaining mine, the Coeur D'Alene still stands in Central City and was once available as a kit, I think from Builders in Scale (now part of C C Crow).  We saw a photo of this mine in an earlier kit.

Keith



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 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2012 04:52 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Last, but not least, we'll look at some of the buildings and structures available as drawings or kits along the Gilpin Tram.

Below, we see the Eureka Gulch Bridge remains, located next to the Central City water reservoir, and near the water tank.  Drawings of this bridge were published in Light Iron Digest, and drawn by Joe Crea.




Next, we see the Central City Water Reservoir - a covered water cistern for the Central City water supply.  This was next to the Eureka Gulch bridge.  Drawings of this building are available from Mike Blazek.




The Eureka Gulch Water Tank was next to the bridge and reservoir seen previously.  I published drawings of the first tank at this site, and replacement (and larger tank) in Light Iron Digest.  Drawings of this water tank are available from Mike Blazek - Mike's drawings are more accurate than mine, and any model you build should be from his drawings.




There are a bunch of other buildings that were in Central City or Black Hawk.  In past years, and maybe 25 years ago, Trains of Texas offered kits for the Iron City Mill, Grand Central Mine, Knights of Pythias Building, Black Hawk House, Black Hawk Bakery, Couer D'Alene Mine, Black Hawk Depot, Bull Durham Building, and the Gilpin Hotel.  There may have been others!

Other kits offered by others include the Lace House (Builders In Scale), Black Hawk Boiler Works (Rocky Mountain Model Works), Black Hawk Depot (Columbine Models in 1:24, no less), and the Grand Central Mine (in 1:48 by The Structure Company).

That concludes the listing of kits and drawings.  Have I missed any?  Please post if you know of some!

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2012 05:06 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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I knew I was forgetting something when I sent off that last post.

Mike Blazek, in his Gilpin Tram Workbook (Volume 3, I think of 3 different workbooks) has several mines and mill drawings included in it that were located on Quartz Hill.  Previously, we saw a photo of the Gold Coin Mine.  Mike also included four other mine buidings in that workbook.

One mine was the University Kansas Mine drawing is included, but I do not have a photo of it to post here.

Below, we see the First National Kansos Mine, served by the Gilpin Tram.




In the photo above, note the Gilpin Tram coal car at center left margin - it dumped into a coal chute to serve the mine.

Below, we see the Pease Kansas Mine, located at the end of the Pease-Kansas Branch of the Gilpin Tram.




And finally, we see an unidentified mine building located on Quartz Hill, and near the other two mines shown here.  This may/may not have been served by the Gilpin Tram - the mine was at least close to one of their branch lines.




From these photos posted today, you can see I rely heavily on Mike Blazek's drawings and workbooks as a resource.  Mike is a good friend, and we have explored some of the Gilpin Tram route together.  I highly recommend checking out his materials, if you haven't already.  You can find his website at http://blazeksplan.com

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2012 03:37 pm
   
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Herb Kephart
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Mike must have spent two lifetimes doing all those drawings, and it is my opinion that anyone with an interest in modeling any part of the Gilpin tram, or Clear Creek should check out his work.

Herb 



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 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2012 04:57 pm
   
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Keith,

Your a wonderful source of information.  Really enjoyed the last post with plans, etc.  Will begin looking at those.  Have 3 of Mikes WorkBooks, need Gilpin 2-3 and a bunch of these plans you mention.

Question on how you do rock walls for buildings.  I have several to do and would like some details on how you approach them.

Thanks Cameron



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 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2012 04:58 pm
   
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A post note.  Chris at Carsten Publishing is a friend and "good people".  You should send him this info, it would make a great story for the annual he puts out.

You have enough for a great book, any thoughts?

Cameron

Last edited on Thu Dec 13th, 2012 04:59 pm by CBryars2



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 Posted: Sat Dec 15th, 2012 05:44 pm
   
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Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing.
Im now suffering from vintage photograph overload.



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 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2013 07:20 pm
   
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vamodeler
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Keith,

Awesome stuff. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

Any chance that you have a track plan of your layout? I am very curious how you fit in some of those scenes and how much space you used.

Thanks,
Brian

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 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2013 04:31 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Brian:




The Gilpin Tram layout was in a room measuring 15' long by 9' wide. The layout was built as a shelf 16" wide on all four sides of the room, although it was not a loop.



I mention the layout in the past tense because it was dismantled in January, and I moved to a new home last week. The major sections: Buckley Mine Branch, Quartz Hill Mine, Nugget, and the sector table were built sectional in the first place, so they were easily moved. The Mother Grundy scene, Pine Creek, and Eureka Street scene were all given to friends for use on their layouts.



I am planning a new layout and I already have the Buckley Mine Branch scene set up (1 week after my move to a new home). I should have the DCC connected and this section running this weekend.



Here is a track plan of the layout in my last home (I never got around to building Black Hawk, but it would have extended off of the Quartz Hill area in towards the center of the room, as a peninsula).




Here are some more scenes of the shelf layout.



A train is easing by the Mother Grundy rock formation, crossing over Clear Creek, and heading into Pine Creek, seen in the distance.



This ore train is descending the grade down into Nugget.  This photo shows the narrow shelf configuration.  The lighting is LED strips mounted to the bottom side of melamine particle board shelving.  The lighting valance is strip styrene.




When viewed normally from in the room, the narrow depth is not apparent.  Here a train of empties is heading up through Clear Creek Canyon, led by Shay #6.  Shay #6?  The real Gilpin Tram never had more than 5 locomotives - my #6 is a 2-cylinder Joe Works shay.



Here is an overall view of the layout taken around New Year's day, showing one end of the layout room.  I've already packed up the books I stored on top of the shelf above the layout (the LED lighting was mounted to the underside of this shelf).  The Polar Star Mill model and the Quartz Hill Mine model can be seen temporarily sitting on top of the layout, before being carefully packed for the move.



Keith

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