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Modeling 'The Gilpin Tram' - pt.I
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 Posted: Mon Nov 26th, 2012 03:53 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Regarding the wall covering on the Hidden Treasure Mill - it could be tarpaper, or it could be painted flat tin siding.  Both were common in the area, and I don't think you can easily tell from black & white photos.

Here is a photo of a small barn on Eureka Street, in Central City. 
 Notice it is very wrinkled, even though it is metal. 

Keith

 

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 Posted: Mon Nov 26th, 2012 04:33 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Previously, we looked at the Hidden Treasure Mill area, which was down on Clear Creek and at one time a major shipper on the Gilpin Tram.  Now, we'll take a look at the Gilpin Tram route up through Chase Gulch.

Chase Gulch was a major operational challenge for the Tram. The grade was probably 2%-3% throughout, and had numerous sharp curves.  Photos published previous books on the Gilpin Tram show double-headed and triple-headed trains of empties and loaded coal cars blasting up the grade. 


Chase Gulch is a rugged and narrow gulch with steep, rocky sides.  The Gilpin Tram negotiated the gulch by snaking around major rock outcroppings, and building a lot of the right of way on narrow ledges supported on stone walls.  Few sections were straight or in easy-to-dig soil.

First, a quick sketch of where Chase Gulch is relative to Black Hawk and Central City:


Basically, Chase Gulch is the next gulch north of Gregory Gulch, where Central City as located and where Black Hawk was bult at the mouth of the gulch (at Clear Creek).


Here, Darel Leedy is standing on a typical stone retaining wall along the right of way in Chase Gulch. 

 

About 1/3 mile uphill of the Hidden Treasure switchback, the grade noses around Maryland Mountain, and starts heading more westerly.  At this point, the grade crossed Smith Road.   Here, a loaded ore train is whistling for the road crossing.


And below, is a view of the Smith Road area today.  Little has changed, except the trees have matured.


This is about a hundred feet west of Smith Road, looking west up the gulch.  Note the long, neat rock wall supporting the grade.   See that mine dump (yellowish-brown dump) in the center background?  That's the Queen of the West Mine dump, and the Gilpin Tram grade is climbing right up to it.


A little farther along, we see Dan ABbott, Chris Walker, and Joe Crea exploring the grade.  These guys have researched and published a lot of information on the Gilpin Tram and mining.

Nosing around the corner, we approach the site of the spur to the Oliver Mill.  The photo below shows the GT grade at right edge, and the waste dump for the Oliver Mill site can be seen near the bottom of the gulch.


To reach this point, the Gilpin Tram had to built a magnificent stone wall to hook around the rock outcropping on the hillside.  The grade and wall remain today, and it looks like this:




In the same general area, about 300' west, was tbe Bonanza Mill.  This mill served mines in the area, but was not a shipper on the Gilpin Tram.  The GT grade is high up on the hillside to the right at this point.


Today, nothing remains of the Bonanza mill, except a waste dump and this stone foundation wall:


A short distance upgrade, the grade dips into a narrow notch in the side of Maryland Mountain.  To cross this, the Gilpin Tram built this large wall with a culvert at the top center (to the right of where Joe Crea and Dan Abbott are standing).




Most of the retaining walls were laid with dry stone, stacked and generally in god condition today.  However, in a few areas, the walls were built with wood cribbing.  This photo of the Chase Gulch grade shows a wall that is a combination of dry-laid stone and wood cribbing.


These wallls tended to be built by miners of Cornish descent, who excelled at this kind of work.  A short description of how these walls were built is shown below:


The numbers in the sketch above are explained below:

1 - Nearby stone is broken to shape and laide up dry.

2 - The space between the laid-up stone and hillside is filled with a combination of rock, gravel, and dirt.

3 - The hillside was minimally excavated - it was easier with the hand labor of the day to built walls upward and outward than to excavate and blast into the hillside.

4 - Sometimes, the rock wall was laid on top of a rock outcroppiing.  To prevent the wall from sliding outward, sometimes the wall builders drilled holes and inserted metal rods, rail, or whatever was handy to keep the toe of the wall in place. This is shown in the photo below:




Keith


 

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 Posted: Mon Nov 26th, 2012 04:39 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Moving along, we encounter some scenic grade:


This is what I would like to model - a nice combination of steep mountainside, stone walls, and a sharp curve hooking around at the right edge of the hillside.

Climbing further along the grade, we pass by the Robert Emmet Mine.  This apparently was a good producer at one time, and was set along the hillside above the tramway grade.  This mine was not a shipper on the Gilpin Tram - perhaps they teamed their ore down to the nearby Bonanza or Oliver Mills, or one of the other mills down in Black Hawk.



The Gilpin Tram grade can be seen at the bottom right edge of the photo.

Nothing remains of the building today.  Here is a photo looking at the mine site:


And here is a 1890-era photo showing the same location:


Note the mine building in the foreground - that is the Queen of the West Mine and we'll be seeing more of it soon.


The map above shows the trackage up through Chase Gulch.  Next stop - the Castle Rock area.


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 Posted: Mon Nov 26th, 2012 05:00 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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As the Gilpin Tram continues its climb up Chase Gulch, it approaches the head of the Gulch and makes a 180 degree turn.


Castle Rock is the large rock promontory at center.  The GT mainline can be seen along the bottom of the photo, crossing over a small bridge above a waterfall.  The track curving around the back of the rock outcropping is the Tucker Mine and Mill branch.


In the photo above, location #1 is the point from where the preceding photo was taken, and is located on the Gilpin Tram grade.  Location #2 is the waste dump of the Belden Mine and Tunnel, which was located inside the 180 degree curve of the mainline (it was not a tramway shipper).  Location #3 shows the ruins of a small stamp mill built to serve the Belden Tunnel.


Looking back at Castle Rock, here is the south side of it today.  The grade can be made out, partially hidden by trees.


Here is a modern-day view of the waterfall immediately beneath the grade - what a great scene this would be on a model railroad.


The photo above was taken in the 1890s, and shows the Castle Rock Mine, which was located high above the Gilpin Tram mainline (but was not a shipper on the railroad).  Nothing remains of this mine today.


The Tucker Mine and Mill was served by a short Gilpin Tram branch.  Here is how the mill looked in the 1890s. At first, the GT was not built all the way to the mill, but eventually the track was extended all the way to the mill.


Here is the Tucker Mill site today - no mine or mill structures remain, and this is on posted private property, so I have never been able to get much closer than this vantage point.


From above the Belden Tunnel, we can look down Chase Gulch towards Black Hawk.  The Gilpin Tram grade can be seen curving around the rocky point to the Robert Emmet Mine.  In the far distance, some modern day development can be seen in Black Hawk.


This photo shows the Queen of the West Mine (upper mine) and the Virginia Mine (lower mine).  The Queen of the West Mine sides right next to the Gilpin Tram mainline, and was a shipper on the Gilpin Tram.  I do not think much was ever shipped, maybe inbound coal loads.  However, written records exist showing there was some mine traffic at least one year.

 

Below, this is an enlargement of a photo we saw before, showing the Robert Emmet mine.  This is a partial view of the Queen of the West Mine.  Two neat little details show up in this photo - first, two small wooden roof vents can be seen.  At lower right, note the chime whistle projecting out of the roof - I wonder what it sounded like?  These would be neat details to include on a model, plus, I think the mine's name has a wonderful ring to it!




Today, nothing remains of the Queen of the West, except a sprawling waste dump eroding down onto the Virginia Mine site below.  The Virigina Mine has this interesting boiler remaining, shown in the photo below:




That wraps up our brief tour of the Chase Gulch section of the Gilpin Tram.  Next stop - the Freedom Mine and Winnebago Hill.

Keith

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 Posted: Wed Nov 28th, 2012 05:00 pm
   
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CBryars2
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Keith,

Your work is inspiring.  Working on an ambitous 3-4 deck layout running from Denver through Golden through Clear Creek canyon, on to Black Hawk, And Silver Plume (details ar DGCCRR.Blogspot.com).

In Silver Plume including Argentine Central and the tourist tram.  Including the Gilpin from Black Hawk up to the mines.

Your work is helping me revise the plans for the Gilpin.  I acquired the Narrow Gauge Gazette articles in 93 and 99.  Enjoying them greatly.

Your mill and mine pictures and maps are a huge help.

The Iron Mill and the Bobtail Mill are both potential inclusions (Bobtail almost certain).

Any more drawings, plans, pictures you have on the Iron Mill, Bob Tail and Gilpin car shop, engine house and ore warming would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and keep up your excellent work, it is helping others!

Cameron



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 Posted: Thu Nov 29th, 2012 04:01 am
   
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Keith, Thanks for posting pictures of the Gilpin Tram. I've been on the old grades many times and I 'm planning on returning there next year. I was with Dan Abbott a few years ago, we went to the Frontenac and the Saratoga mines. I also met Kent Blake at the Polar Star Mill in Blackhawk and was inside the mill. I'm building a model of the Polar Star Mill in 1/35 scale. I'll post some pictures of it soon. Keep up the great work on the Gilpin Tram. Ken Mannes

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 Posted: Thu Nov 29th, 2012 04:30 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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Cameron and Ken: good to hear from both of you. Gilpin and Clear Creek counties are such fascinating places, and so rich in mining and railroad history!

Thanks for putting in the link to your blog site for your railroad - you've got a real nice start to Clear Creek. The modeling looks pretty good - you must be going through a lot of plaster to create all that rock work. I see you toured Harry Brunk's layout in Cheyenne - that is a destination well worth the trip. I had a last-minute opportunity to see it this past summer, and probably took over 100 images. Harry's work in person is even better than depicted in the magazine articles.

Ken, you were in good company if you hung out with Dan Abbott to prowl around Gilpin County. Dan literally wrote the book on the Gilpin Tram, and an excellent tour guide of the area.

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Nov 29th, 2012 04:39 am
   
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Keith Pashina
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There is a good source of information out there that everyone may not know of - Mike Blazek workbooks and drawings.

Mike has published over 36 workbooks on narrow gauge topics, and 3 of them are on the Gilpin Tram.  The notebooks contain a lot of historic information, some photos, and drawings of many of the structures.  So far, he has covered from the enginehouse, up Chase Gulch, and the mines on Gunnell Hill.

Mike Blazek is also a prolific producer of scale drawings for modelers.  Mike is a Gilpin fan, and offers many drawings for sale.  A listing of these, now about 2 years old is shown below:


Those of you interested in modeling the Gilpin should really check out these products.

Mike's drawings are generally in HO scale.  I would really like to see how Ken Mannes' 1/35 model of the Polar Star model turns out - that would be a big, big structure model.  I suppose if he ever got tired of it, you could use it as a small garage or something... :)

 

Keith

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 Posted: Thu Nov 29th, 2012 02:56 pm
   
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Thanks Keith, slowly building my collection of Mikes books and plans.  I contacted him on the Bob tail, he said it was so big few were interested in modeling.

Cameron



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 Posted: Sun Dec 9th, 2012 10:13 pm
   
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Keith Pashina
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After hiking the real Chase Gulch on the Gilpin Tram, I knew I had to model part of it on my layout.  Scenes like this one really whetted my interest.


For my HOn30 layout, I had a space about 9' wide, and I built this as a 16" shelf, similar to the rest of my layout.  Here is a view of the scene when under construction - plaster and dust everywhere!


The layout extension was pretty lightweight.  I glued rigid styrofoam board to 1x2 wood furring strips which were screwed to shelf brackets.  The backdrop was painted 1" styrofoam, and a particle board shelf above both supported a book shelf and was a mountig for the LED light strips.


This type of scenery is easy to work with, and goes together quickly.


For rockwork, I used mostly latex rubber molds from Bragdon Enterprises.  These were large molds, maybe 16" square, so I tended to fill the entire mold, but break off smaller pieces and set them into place with more Plaster of Paris.  I then hand-carved the fill-in new plaster that was between the broken-up plaster rock castings.

Above is a progress shot of some of the carving.  I saved the cutoff chunks, then later stained them to match the rock to create talus and rock debris.


This section was built with Peco code 90 flextrack and switches.  This track runs well, works well, plus, I had a bunch of it laying around.  I handlay code 55 and 40 track now, but the flextrack was a nice break.


The plaster shapes were stained with artist's oils, then ground textures out down.  This was  a combination of collected dirt from Gilpin County, and AMSI and Woodland Scenics ground foam.


Shrubbery was built from a variety of sources - Woodland Scenics foam clusters, painted and foam-clad caspia and other plants, air fern, and a bunch of stumps I had cast in resin and painted.


For this crossing, I salvaged a bridge from a previous layout.  This bridge was built from a sketch in the original 1890s Gilpin Tram business journals, but I don't know if this design was ever built.  I think it fit into the scene okay.

Inevitably, "mission creep" surfaced on the project.  I added two short spurs in the scene - an ore loading area and a small depot and tourist stop.  The tourist stop scene was based on Beaver Brook on the Colorado Central (later C & S Clear Creek line).  I liked the squeezed-in feeling of the prototype area.


The white structure up on the hillside represents a dance pavilion as in the prototype scene.  The depot was set at 90 degrees to the mainline like the prototype.  I used a Kingmill Raintown depot kit for here - their kit was based on the the C&S Forks Creek depot, so it fits in well.  The water tank was based on a shrunk-down Colorado Central tank - it had the multi-sided enclosed base, and covered with advertising posters as shown in the prototype photos.  The tank was a resin casting of the Gilpin's Eureka St tank I had cast many years ago.

 

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