The Royal Gorge in the Royal Gorge

All of the photos in today’s postcards are taken from nearly the same spot of different eras of passenger trains in Colorado’s Royal Gorge. The first shows a moonlit-train passing through the gorge with no sign of a suspension bridge above. Since the bridge was built in 1929, the postcard must be from before that date. The moonlight view should have given passengers a hint that their train would pass through this awesome scenery at night.

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The next shows a passenger train pulled by a locomotive that appears to be only a little newer than the one in the moonlit scene. In fact, it is probably one of the Rio Grande’s 4-8-4 Northerns (which the Rio Grande apparently called “Westerns”), which were built in 1928. Though the photo and postcard are clearly from the pre-war era, the card is postmarked 1949.

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Here’s a Diesel-powered heavyweight passenger train. Although most railroads used the pre-war FT locomotives for freight, the Rio Grande added boilers to some of the B units so it could use them for passenger trains (the steam boilers heated the train cars in winter). The postcard is probably from before the war as the Rio Grande painted its Royal Gorge passenger train Rio Grande Gold in 1945.

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The next two cards show what appears to be the exact same train from slightly different views. However, the cards themselves are from different eras, one being linen and the other chrome.

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The two cards were issued by two different publishers, but one of them says “Color by D & R G W R R,” indicating the photos were provided by the railroad. They must be from slightly different angles just so each postcard publisher could say they were using a different image. The dome car shows that both photos were taken in 1949 or later.

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The Royal Gorge in the Royal Gorge — 1 Comment

  1. Well, the one with the FT’s is definitely not pre-war. The Rio Grande took delivery of their FT fleet in 1942 and 1943. The original nose was with the small horizontal number boards and the number in large numbers on the center nose and “Rio Grande” in small script on both sides of the engine number. The Rio Grande added the angled number boards and “Rio Grande” in the center of the nose between 1945 and 1947. Since the train is still heavyweight, I’d guess 1946-1950. The Royal Gorge trains were second in line to get streamlined cars after delivery to the Zephyr.


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