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Modeling 'The Gilpin Tram' - pt.II
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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2017 06:26 am
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Keith Pashina
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Polar Star Mill in 1:24 Scale!






Monte Pearson sent me some photos of his under-construction Polar Star Mill, and gave me permission to post some of his photos. As you can see, he is modeling the side facing the Gilpin Tram ore unloading trestle, and he is making great progress.  The rock work carving and coloring is particularly outstanding!
Thanks for sharing your model work Monte!






Keith

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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2017 06:34 am
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Keith Pashina
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Dual Gauge Track at the Eagle Mill



We previously saw this image of the Eagle Mill. The dual gauge 2' and 3' track is on the right side of the mill. The spur to the left side of the mill, where two gondolas are parked, is 3' gauge only. This image is from the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, and can be found at http://digital.denverlibrary.org/cdm/fullbrowser/collection/p15330coll21/id/3648/rv/singleitem/rec/1776

In previous posts, we looked at the Polar Star and Eagle Mill locations. Chris "Eagle-Eye" Walker pointed out an interesting detail. Chris noted, "you might want to mention that the Gilpin 3-rail was transposed opposite the Eagle Mill.  Only two photos I’ve seen actually show, this one somewhat blurry extreme right. The (dual-gauge track) Draw is just in advance of the Stub rails to the Polar Star Chutes siding.  It appears to me that there was only about a rail length between the draws as well."
[size=Thanks for ][size=sharing this information, Chris!][size=
]
[size=
]
A closeup view of the previous photo clearly shows the draw, where the 2' gauge track inner rail changed from one side of the track to the [size=other]. There was more than one draw in Black Hawk, and we'll see another one down near the station area. Draws were needed to get the 2' gauge track to the proper side of the track for turnouts to the various mills. There may have been more built than what we see in [size=available] photos.

[size=Keith]

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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2017 06:45 am
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Keith Pashina
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The Bobtail/Fifty Gold Mines Mill


Dominating the north side of Black Hawk was the Bobtail, or as later known as, the Fifty Gold Mines Mill. This mill served several nearby mines, and was at one time an active shipper and the C & S 3' gauge.


This operation operated under several names, and apparently was called the Black Hawk Mill and Gregory Bobtail Mill for a time. Its successor was the Bobtail Mining Company, which was the predecessor to the Fifty Gold Mines mill.
 
The Fifty Gold Mines mill was the result of the consolidation of several older and contested claims in Gregory Gulch. By 1906, these properties were consolidated and controlled by the Fifty Gold Mines Corporation. At this time, several improvements were made to the mining machinery, and a new laboratory/assay office was added.






This is from a C&S track map of Black Hawk, and shows the two 3' gauge spurs serving the Bobtail Mill, which is shown in red.  This was a large complex of buildings.  The blue line shows the dual gauge 2' and 3' gauge trackage heading downstream along Clear Creek






 This image is from the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection. Taken from a hilltop high above and east of Black Hawk, we see the Bobtail Mill at bottom center. To the upper left of the mill is Black Hawk. The mine dumps immediately above town were in Gregory Gulch, and several of these mines were under control of the same syndicate that operated the Bobtail Mill







An enlargement of the same photo shows the main mill complex. This large mill processed ores from several Gregory Gulch mines. Some ore was shipped into the mill at the tall structure at the top - note the trestle on the right side. This was a narrow underground mine tram - it tunneled through the hill behind the mill, crossed Gregory Gulch, and entered the hillside beyond





Here is an enlargement of the upper narrow gauge mining tramway. This was electric powered, and a short underground mine train can be seen just right of the trestle




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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2017 06:51 am
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Keith Pashina
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Enlarging the same previous photo, we see a 3' gauge gondola and boxcar on the short siding next to the mill. This mill looks like what we expect a typical Colorado stamp mill to look like, unlike some of the previous mills we explored further upstream along Clear Creek




There is a lot detail here. In front of the 3 stacks (which were not a part of the Bobtail Mill, they were the local coal-powered electrical generating plant), is a very long wood-cribbed wall to retain tailings and provide a level area for buildings.There are two wooden water storage tanks, and the right of them you can see two flumes discharging water, possibly from underground mine tunnel drainage





Here is the coal-fired powerhouse for the stamp mill, electricity for the underground mine trains, and other mining company usage. The second 3' gauge spur came into the backside of this building, so I speculate it may have been used for unloading coal





On the north end of the complex, we see this wooden building with the tall brick smoke stack. This was called the "Rocky Mountain Machine Shop" in earlier years, and appears to have been acquired by the Bobtail Mill in later years. I like this interesting structure - it would make a great model!

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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2017 07:00 am
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Keith Pashina
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Although the Bobtail Mill was large and imposing, its size was not a guarantee of long-term success.
This new venture eventually ran into financial problems, as this operation was sold in 1911, but the local newspaper reported the company emerging from a bankruptcy in June 1913. This troubled company entered bankruptcy again in 1916, for the final time.
 
From the 1917 USGS Report – excerpts from the text:
 
"Mining near Blackhawk, on the Gregory, Fisk, Cook, Bobtail, and Mammoth veins and their branches, and on several minor veins, has in recent years been controlled by the Fifty Gold Mines Co. The properties under this management have been among the most productive in the district, but were unfortunately closed down at the time of this survey, and access could be had to only a small part of the workings. The Gregory, in this group, has the distinction of being the first gold lode discovered in Colorado (May 6, 1859).
 
In recent years development has been mainly through the Cook shaft, the Bobtail tunnel, and the Gregory incline. The Cook is a large vertical shaft 1,450 feet deep, equipped with cages. It connects with 14 levels, and from the surface to the eighth level is close to the Cook vein. Below this the Cook vein lies a short distance to the south of the shaft and the Fisk vein to the north. The Bobtail tunnel, begun in 1863, starts in Black- hawk, on the north side of Bates Hill, follows the Gregory vein through the hill, hosses be- neath the road from Central City to Black- hawk, and enters the hill south of Gregory Gulch, where it intersects the Fisk and Cook veins. (See PI. XX.)' The Cook shaft is con- nected with the mill at Blackhawk by a motor railroad running through the Bobtail tunnel. Ore is hoisted to the tunnel level, deposited in ore bins, and automatically loaded onto the motor cars for transportation to the mill 4,200 feet distant.
 
The concentrating ores from the Fifty Gold Mines properties were treated at a large and well-equipped 80-stamp mill in Blackhawk.
 
This mill had 125 stamps at one time."
 
Also from Bakers’ book:
 
"That same month (in 1886), the Register reporter stopped “at the Black Hawk foundry to look at the immense castings just made at these works for the hoisting rig of the Gregory Bobtail Consolidated company, the foundations for which are now being built adjoining the company’s 125-stamp mill… The spool has a diameter of 13 feet, on which will be carried three thousand feet of wire rope; the spider for the big wheel measures 16 feet in diameter and weights over two ton; the whole weight of the hoister is over 14 tons; three engines compounded aggregating a one hundred and sixty horse power, will be the motive power, which has the capacity of hoisting five cords of mill dirt, four hundred feet per minute, up the incline shaft. Mr. A.N. Rogers, manager of the company, was the designer of the rig, and the patterns were made by Mr. O. Hayes, of the Black Hawk foundry.”






Here is a portion of the 1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, and shows the Bobtail/Fifty Gold Mines Mill (colored in red for clarity). The two C&S spurs to the mill are clearly shown




This image from the Denver Public Library shows very well how the mill was basically across an alley from the main retail street. Note how the large imposing mill towers above the town buildings below. Typical of Black Hawk, a lot of buildings and activity is crowded into the narrow creek canyon. That building at the extreme upper left corner? That's a church building, still standing today. This scene just begs to be modeled




To clarify the previous photo, there are all Fifty Gold Mines/Bobtail mill photos, The C&S/Gilpin Tram dual gauge track sneaks through between the front of ht mill, and crosses Main Street. The cross buck for the railroad crossing can be seen at the bottom edge of the photo, to the left of the smokestack




By the time I visited Black Hawk in 1986, all the mill buildings were long gone, and all that remained was the wood cribbing wall, seen in one of the earlier photos I had posted. I was told by locals that the site was an EPA Superfund site, and the wall, tailings, and any other mill remnants gradually vanished. Today, there are parking lots and a casino on this site. Progress, I guess


Next, we'll head down the track a bit and take a look at the Black Hawk station grounds and Main Street.


Until then,


Keith












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 Posted: Sun Oct 22nd, 2017 07:24 pm
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elminero67
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Sat down last night with a cold Coors (brewed just downstream with that wonderful "Rocky Mountain Stream" water-i wonder how many micro-particles of material from the mills of Blackhawk I have consumed over the years) to get caught up on your thread after a hiatus.
As usual, great historical pics, really an amazing place to model.  Really like your model of the Polar Star, especially the masonry with its yellowish (granite?) rockwork. You captured the landscape well too.





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 Posted: Mon Oct 30th, 2017 10:51 pm
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Bill U
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If you are worried about the milling by products think of where the out houses were located on several properties including the RR station.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2017 07:13 am
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Keith Pashina
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Black Hawk (Again)




In previous posts, we looked at the huge Bobtail/Fifty Gold Mines Mill in Black Hawk. In this panoramic view, the Bobtail Mill dominates the front center of this photo. The right margin is where the Eagle Mill and Polar Star Mill were located. Along the left margin is the retail area and center of Black Hawk, which we will explore next




To recap where we have been in previous posts, here its a map showing the area that we will look at next, shown in red. The green areas are the upstream areas above Black Hawk, home of the Wheeler, Fullerton, Golden Fleece, engine house and yards, Hidden Treasure, transfer yard, Polar Star, and Eagle Mills

Black Hawk was the starting point of the Gilpin Tram, down in the canyon of the North Fork of Clear Creek and the bottom of the hill relative to Central City and where all the mines were located.
The readily available water supply prompted the construction of many ore processing mills. Once the 3' gauge Colorado Central Railroad reached Black Hawk, its status as a transportation and industrial center was further established. Black Hawk tended to be more blue collar and industrial compared to the more glamorous Central City. Whereas Central City had an opera house, courthouse and many large businesses, Black Hawk had a lot of mills and industries, and a smaller retail component. 
Black Hawk was further hampered in its development by the relatively narrow confines of Clear Creek Canyon, which crowded the railroad, mills and industries, stores and homes close together. Nearly flat real estate was at a premium, and quickly utilized with industries and stores. Everything else had to crowd in on the slopes.
The very crowded and compact nature of Black Hawk is what makes it such a great town to model. As I plan the next model railroad expansion, I realize that including parts of the town and mills is a must. The hardest part of modeling this town will be selecting which structures I want to model. I will have room for only a small fraction of the more interesting structures!




In previous posts, we left off at the Bobtail Mill. This is the mill site today, looking south along Clear Creek. The parking lot at left is where the mill buildings were. The creek bed likely has been shifted around over the decades, first with mill construction and later with road construction. In the background is the main retail area of Black Hawk




Back in 1900, the Bobtail Mill was booming, and so was the Gilpin Mill (structure at left front, with the steam plume. The Colorado Shoe Store can be seen at left center - crammed in between the two ore mills. Between the front of the Bobtail Mill and the other structures, is the dual gauge Gilpin Tram and C&S track. In the background, at top center, is the Gilpin Tram mainline up Chase Gulch, and an empty train of ore cars with two locomotives is crawling up the grade



South of the Eagle Mill, the C&S served the Black Hawk Electric Power and Light Company, which was served by a short C&S spur. Near the power company was the MacFarlane foundry and shop. This was not served directly by either railroad, but was very close to the tracks and station. This company produced many types of locally used mining and milling equipment, including stamps and Gilpin County Bumping Tables



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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2017 07:28 am
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Keith Pashina
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A photo from the Richard Ronzio collection shows Black Hawk around the turn of the last century. The Bobtail Mill is at right center. The retail buildings are crowded together down near the bottom of the Clear Creek Canyon. The C&S and dual gauge track can be seen near the lower right corner, and there are 3 or more C&S boxcars next to the Gilpin Mill and Sampler




We'll want to refer back to this map periodically as we peruse the many interesting buildings in Black Hawk. This map is from a C&S track map copy I was able to get from the Colorado Historical Society many years ago. At left can be seen the Bobtail Mill, Electric Power Company, and MacFarlane Machine Shop




This is a commonly seen view of Black Hawk, published in many books. This image is courtesy of the Western History Collection at the Denver Public Library. This image was taken probably before 1900, because Stroehle's Black Hawk Boiler Works building (front center) was rebuilt into a more impressive later building. There are lots of interesting structures visible in this image





In the 1870s, the Black Hawk Boiler Works had not even been built yet. The Colorado Central 3' gauge track can be seen - it is not dual gauge, as the Gilpin Tram had been built yet. Most of the other structures can be seen in the previous photo. The Black Hawk school opened in 1870, and the Presbyterian Church built in 1962. They are prominently perched above the retail street below. Both buildings exist today



This photo was taken in the early 1980s by Bob Axsum. Bob was a Gilpin Tram modeler in O scale, and unfortunately passed away a few years ago. Bob sent me these photos some years ago, and this shows Black Hawk before casinos and "progress." That retail block of stores is mostly intact, as are the Presbyterian Church and school building above them





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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2017 07:47 am
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Keith Pashina
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For modeling subjects, the backsides of buildings are just as interesting to model as the front side. This is Selak Street, and shows the backside of the retail block of buildings shown in the previous photo. I am looking south, from the stairway that leads up to the Presbyterian Church and school building. Note how the building door thresholds follow the sloping street - the building kind of "flows" down the hill. Harry Brunk wrote extensively about the alley side of buildings in Idaho Springs in Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette, and his ideas also apply here, too, to modeling Black Hawk



I am going to make no attempt in these posts to explore Black Hawk in detail. Two writers already did this, and their works are the "supreme" references on Black Hawk. Harry Brunk published 100+ articles on modeling the Clear Creek region, and much of Black Hawk is covered in his articles. If you don't have the copies of the Gazette, you can still purchase the book compilations covering all this information
The other great reference is Mike Blazek's workbook on Black Hawk. This is full of the "technical" information you should have on Black Hawk, but also contains lots of suggestions on how to recreate the feel of the town in narrow gauge days



So, let's look a bit more at some of the retail stores lining Gregory Street - this is the street generally following Gregory Gulch and eventually leads into Central City, about 1 mile away. These buildings have been drawn and described by Harry Brunk in his articles, and some of the buildings have been made available as kits or storefront kits by various manufacturers. This image is an enlargement of a photo from the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection



Enlarging the previous photo even more, we see some "neat" details of Gregory Street. The building at left was the Knights of Pythias Building, built in 1864, the lower floor housed a saloon. Harry Brunk called the center building a rooming house, and published plans for it originally in the November 1980 Gazette



The Colorado Shoe is a neat little retail building, crowded up against the dual gauge C&S/Gilpin Tram tracks. Harry Brunk also prepared drawings for this building and published them in Gazette. Lots of neat little details pop up in the photo - the front of the building looks to be in need of a paint job - the wood siding looks heavily weathered. Note the telephone and power poles next to the store - Black Hawk was a "modern" town and received these services fairly early on. The piles have paper notices nailed to them - I have rarely seen this little detail modeled. The right side of the building, which faced the tracks, appears to have had lots of signs painted on it over the years, and these have generally weathered away






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