Saturday, September 6, 2014

The DSP&PRR Denver Terminal | 13 Comments - Click Here :

Scrapping of old Denver Tramway Cable cars at the DSP&P Roundhouse at 5th and Lawrence. H. Buckwalter photo circa 1899 – DPL
    Derrell Poole - Exactly when the grading of the Denver Terminal of the Denver South Park & Pacific Railroad near the intersection of 5th Street and Lawrence began doesn't seem to be known. Construction of the road began in mid August 1873 and by April 1874 the ties were in place for rail to be laid; this included the Terminal. In his book “Denver South Park & Pacific”, on page 415 Mac Poor describes the Denver Terminal;

“…practically all of the South Park’s terminal facilities and shops, such as carpenter shop, oil house, paint shop, track scales (Fairbanks, 42 feet long, 80,000 pounds capacity), etc. were located along Lawrence and Sixth.
“Located at Lawrence and Fifth were:
“Nine stall roundhouse, 62x202 feet…
“Fifty foot wrought iron “Armstrong” turntable.
“Stone machine shop 39x200 feet.
“47,000 gal. wood water tank supplied by a well.
“Car shop 20x128 feet.
“No Coal chutes were listed; however several large size coal bins were located along the yard tracks at various points.”

    Mac clearly got his information from “Union Pacific Railway, Colorado Division, Bridges & Buildings” published on 1 Jan. 1886. Descriptions of the Terminal structures and track begin on page 87 but it is so vague about actual locations that it has been very difficult to identify many of the buildings on the maps. Locations in the B&B are identified as being between street crossings. There is confusion here; first Market Street was Holladay Street before 1890. Then the B&B Dept. appears to call Wazee Street, Blake Street. Blake Street actually ended just west of its Cherry Creek crossing.      
    The South Park had many tracks over blocks between 3rd and 6th Street yet there is no clear indicated in the document of the relationship of any structures to those streets. In some cases identification was based on comparing the dimensions of the structures given in the B&B book to those shown on the maps. That practice isn’t particularly reliable; the maps often identified buildings that seem to fit the B&B descriptions but not the dimensions. Therefore what has been identified by the structure numbers (see list below fig. 4) assigned in the B&B book are to be regarded as possible to probable – unless of course it is obvious. The Roundhouse is a pretty safe bet.

Figure 1 (Derrell Poole)

     I am not aware of a single publication that accurately depicts the Terminal layout in graphic form. There is at least one “artist’s conception” but it is woefully incorrect and of no value to any attempt to sort out the details of the Terminal. It is found on the insert of “Silver Images of Colorado” by Richard A. Ronzio (Sundance Books) a very worthy read if you are interested in early Denver.

    Fig. 1 is actually the 1890 DL&G terminal. But the primary structures, the roundhouse, machine shops, carpenter’s (car) shops, water tank, coal bins and others, which were built in the mid 1870s, would still be the same. Many of them were indeed along Lawrence Street (see figs. 2, 3 & 4 – double click the images for a larger view).

Figure 2 (Derrell Poole)

Figure 3 (Derrell Poole)

Figure 4 – Northeast end of the Terminal with portions of the D&RG facilities. (Derrell Poole)

List of Structures Tentatively Identified to B&B assigned numbers

8 – Tenement House,12 – Tenement House, 135 – Ice House, 149 – Carpenter Shop, 151 – Lime House, 169 – Telegraph Office, 171 – Oil House, 173 – Store House, 181 – Paint Shop, 185 – Coal Bin attachment, 187 – Coal Bin, 189 – Coal Bin, 191 – Scale House and Track Scale (possible location), 193 – Round House and Turn Table, 195 – Sand House, 197 – Sand Bin attachment, 199 – Coal Bin attachment, 201 – Machine Shop, 205 – Hose House, 207 – Paint Shop, 209 – Boiler House, 211- Water Tank on stone foundation, 213 – Car Shop.

    The South Park used the Denver Terminal until the early 1890s. By this time it had been reorganized into the Denver Leadville & Gunnison (1889). The Union Pacific Denver & Gulf was formed by consolidating the Denver Texas & Gulf (formerly Denver & New Orleans), Denver Texas & Ft. Worth, the Colorado Central and several other Union Pacific subsidiaries in the region. (The purpose of this move was to financially strengthen those roads – especially those between Denver and Fort Worth - by placing them collectively as one organization under UP control. This was primarily the strategy of General Dodge. Evans was very dubious of the UP. As it happened Evans was right when Jay Gould re-entered the UP picture within a year or so of this agreement and organization. But if it had not been for Dodge the C&S as we know it would not have existed.)  This happened on 1 April 1890. The DL&G remained independent of the consolidation but in practice (it was still a UP property) it became a subsidiary of the UPD&G.

    Over the course of the next year the UPD&G built the Denver West Side Line (or Belt Line) along the westerly bank of the S. Platte River. This belt line connected Jersey Junction and the South Park crossing of the River (and thereafter became known as Canyon Junction). The primary reason for this West Side Belt Line, as its name implies (a belt line is typically built to connect two disjointed terminals) was to connect the South Park’s canyon mainline to the new Union Pacific terminal facilities at 40th Street. These facilities were built back across the River at the end of the Jersey Cutoff in the early 1890s. The Gulf Road organizers had entered into an agreement with the UP that included the centralization of its Denver operation on these facilities. The South Park had been operated jointly with the Colorado Central narrow gauge by the UP since the DSP&P had come under that control.

    It was only a matter of course that it too would move its terminal operations to the 40th Street complex. By 1891 the DL&G and Clear Creek line operated out of the yards at Jersey or Clark Junction and of course both roads pooled their narrow gauge equipment. The South Park’s Denver Terminal as well as the Denver Texas & Gulf facilities at the 7th Street location and indeed all major facilities of the UPD&G except those around the Denver Union Station became idle. While the railroads, for the most part, never gave up their real estate, as early as 1891 the Union Pacific began stripping these idle facilities of their equipment. This would later cause discourse to an already fractious situation when the Gulf Road and South Park went into receivership in 1893. The Receiver would demand accountability of that property technically owned by the UPD&G and DL&G. But to our point, the South Park’s Denver Terminal was thereafter permanently defunct. It is rumored that the property, primarily the stone engine house and machine shops, were finally torn down about 1910.

    Buckwalter photos of the engine house dated about 1899 reveal that the turntable, as well as the trackage, was long gone when the site was used to scrap cable cars belonging to the Denver Tramway Company. Note that one of the electric power plants of the DTC was located across the South Park’s mainline from the Artesian Ice Mfg Co. and that the elevated cable car viaduct on Larimer Street are shown on the 1890 maps. In the photo below the Roundhouse itself seems in fair shape being a substantial structure. 

    There were other advantages of the West Side Belt Line. The belt line (as well as the South Park mainline thru its old Terminal) were three rail so that when Zang Brewing Company, one of the largest firms in the city, was put on line by the WSBL it had the service of both broad and narrow gauge. Zang generated enormous amounts of traffic and their products were shipped all over the region if not the country. Moreover they imported tons of agricultural products to manufacture their Beers. (They produced Zang and Buck Beer as well as other beverage products.) The WSBL brought on line other important companies and within the decade would provide Maddox Ice access to their warehouse near the crossing of 6th Avenue over the Platte River.

    Even after the C&S built its grand facilities in 1900 on the old Denver & New Orleans site in the big bend of the S. Platte – commonly referred to as the 7th Street Shops or Yards - the WSBL continued to provide the narrow gauge access to both Platte Canyon and Clear Creek. South Park trains were backed out of the yards over the bridge across the S. Platte.

Figure 5 (Derrell Poole)

     The original South Park Depot stood at the corner of Sixth and Larimer (see fig. 5). Poor describes the location of that structure as being on the northwest corner of the intersection but a contemporary map of the City suggested it was actually on the south west corner. The streets of West Denver are askew to north therefore it is understandable if the corners were confused. This structure wasn’t shown on the Sanborne maps but the location shown on the city map was confirmed by the Corbett, Hoyes & Co. 6th Annual Directory on page 107;

“General Office 15th, sw cor Lawrence (a.k.a. the Evan’s Block), passenger depot, foot of 16th, freight depot, Larimer sw. cor. 6th.”

    This depot was shared with the D&RG until the SP built its extension to the Denver Union Station in 1879. By that point the Grande was also using the Union Station Whatever happened to the structure must have taken place sometime between 1880 and 1890 as it was gone when the Sanborne maps were made. Incidently, according to the records, after the C&S began in 1899 one half of the Car Shops at the Denver & New Orleans facilities was relocated across the River along the WSBL as a South Park Depot.

    This isn’t the only point of interest about the Terminal grounds and surrounding area. As you study the figures you will note that Mac Poor was indeed correct – there was no coaling chute but there were several coal bins as well as a shed or two. Of particular interest was the sand house at the northerly end of the large coal bin next to the long stone machine shops - right down the middle of Lawrence Street Right of Way. Also the 47,000 gal. water tank stood behind the roundhouse and machine shop. It was an odd location where it could not possibly have been approached by a locomotive. Indeed, this operation was done by hose (note the hose house near the tank) or perhaps the various hydrants on the property. There were several hydrants in the vicinity and in the early days when the tank was fed by a 17.5 foot deep well (7.5’ in Diameter) it may have supplied water to such hydrants as a fire fighting measure. By 1890 the terminal was supplied by City water.

    Another structure of interest was the Car Shop and Lumber shed to the south of the Roundhouse. The B&B book described this location fairly clearly and indeed the overall dimensions more or less match the graphic dimensions of the map. This was the location where many of the cars of the early 1880s were built. Both the 26 foot reefers and the SP's stockcars were very likely built at this structure. But there was also a car repairers shop located between Lawrence and Larimer Streets along the mainline; I have not been able to identify that structure.

    Also found on figure 2 and 3 was the RR’s Bridge and Building Department Located between Larimer and Market (or Holladay Street). Again the dimensions of the facilities described in the B&B book generally match the graphics on the map. There were several paint shops on the property. On the other hand, the Superintendents office, as described in the Corbett & Ballenger Directory located on the NE corner of Lawrence and 3rd Street appears to match the Telegraph Office described in the B&B. The map also shows a tiny structure behind the DL&G Storage labeled as an Ice house yet the B&B described this as an oil house. There were at least three other ice houses located in the vicinity. The biggest of course was the Ice Manufacturing plant se of the yards. There was also an ice house located at 6th and Market and one on the D&RG’s property (See fig. 3&4).

    There were several structures and facilities in the B&B I was not able to even guess at. These include the section house and water closets and hand car shed. I did suggest as location for the Track scales at a gap in the track (accorduing to the Sanborne maps). Nor could I determine which track was the Coke track; one would expect the cord wood yard between Lawrence and Larimer to be a reasonably candidate but the B&B located it between Lawrence and Market. Naturally the depot, as included here, was not listed in the B&B.

    The maps are not just about RR facilities. Direct access to the SP by The Denver Electric Illuminating Co., The Artesian Ice Mfg Co., and Vinegar Warehouse (perhaps belonging to Kuner Pickles?) were located along the Lawrence Street tracks while the Bingham, Teague & Co. Lumber yard was located at 5th and Larimer. They manufactured doors, sashes, and blinds according to their Directory listing. There was a feed and grain warehouse and at one time an operating saw mill. Then there were several interesting businesses accessed by the D&RG – the most noteworthy being the Hallack & Howard Lumber Co. I’ll not get too deeply into those facilities except to say that this was not The Hallack Brothers Company located east of the Union Station; altho it appears this particular Hallack was one of those “brothers”.
DSP&P ad in 1878 Corbett, Hoyes & Co 6th Annual City Directory page 271 - DPL

    The sources of this information are numerous. The basic layout was traced from the 1890 Fire Insurance Maps produced to scale by Sanborne Paris Company. Various documents from the Denver Public Library, from my library and files, and from Hol Wagner’s Volumus – Maximus “The C&S The First 10 Years” as well as ICC maps, B&B documents and supplemental maps from both “The Mineral Belt, Vol. I” and “Silver Images of Colorado” were used to compile the “final” product.  The insurance maps were compiled from plats, building permits, field notations and surveys and other sources. They were, at the time, legal documents, admissible into court, and a matter of record to insurers and the insured parties. They can be regarded as accurate. While the maps I show here are based on those maps these are NOT Sanborne’s maps. They are my maps! Please do NOT copy them for any other reason than your personal use - PERIOD! They can provide valuable information for anyone who might wish to build a layout of the Denver Terminal.

Derrell Poole
13 Comments - Click Here :
  1. If you haven't figured it out yet you can use the Ctrl + or - keys to zoom your screen for closer or wider views of the Graphics.


  2. Brother d, a very interesting compilation of intelligence from a variety of sources. Thank you.

    For modern viewers, The area of the map is bounded by the contemporary Colfax viaduct, the Colfax-I-25 on ramp, Auraria Parkway, and of course Sixth Street, which appears to be unmarked and is just NE of the Auraria administration building.

    I have always marveled that period photographers did not take more photos of this area, or the arrival or construction of the new railroads locomotives and rolling stock. This was big news in the day. I guess anyone that cared just wandered across Cherry Creek and saw the excitement for themselves.

    Keith Hayes
    Leadville in Sn3

    the roundhouse site is now a parking lot diagonally across from the Auraria administration , and just south of the Auraria West light rail station. This area was recently the site of construction in conjunction with the west light rail line.

    The depot is now the site of one of the Auraria facilities buildings, just SW of the giant parking garage. The remainder of this site is occupied by parking lots...for now. The whole area is slated to be redeveloped into classroom space and quadrangles.

  3. Thanks Keith. This is a TON of work! Mountains of it!!! I ain't getting paid for it - no disrespect or slam on Brother D, mind you. But it is almost beyond the call of duty and if y'all want much more of it you better be encouraging! I admit the numbers - which look like a ticker tape lately - helps! But the burden is so big that it takes actual encouragement for me to continue. D is going to compile it all into a single comprehensive version. That will be plenty of work too and I can tell you he already puts a lot of effort into posting this stuff! He needs encouragement too! So does everyone that contributes!!!

    The reader here is the fortunate beneficiary. DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED - from ANY of the contributors!



    1. I couldn't agree more brother d. And thank you again for all of the fantastic information you've provided.
      The amount of work on all our parts to put this information out to the world is immense. Whilst the number of views is great, we really don't know if these viewers are enjoying the information without them using the comments section to let us know.
      We provide information a few times a week as opposed to a few times a year. It would be nice to know our work is appreciated, but my experience with the "blogosphere", has proven the majority of people are up for a quick hit/read, and then move on to some other link. Maybe they don't mind waiting for the next paper rag to arrive in their mailbox?

  4. Outstanding effort Derrell! Thanks so much for putting this together!


    1. Thanks Bill. Wouldn't this make a great 19th Century urban layout?

  5. Would the Denver Elecrtic Illuminating Co be connected with the early usage of arc lamps mounted on towers during the 1880s.These looked like really tall oil derricks and were the rough equivalent of the towers you see lighting today's freeways.The business end of one of these was mounted on on the tower of the Denver Union Station and can be seen in most photos of the station that the top of the tower can be seen.Several panoramic photos of 1880s Denver have towers in them and there is one photo with a close up.The towers didnt last long- they were hard to maintain and they were just a stop-gap until usable regular electric street lamps were developed.

    1. That is an interesting connection, Robert. All kinds of research tributaries one could go up from this confluence, But I'm probably not going to get to them. Whew! Thanks.

  6. Derrell, I for one can say your research and hours sifting through primary sources has been inspiring over the years and has not been wasted. As brother D can attest, I have expanded my layout recently and it was inspired in great part by your posts here. As more info and analysis comes to light, it makes accurate modelling possible. Not many have your skill set. Thanks and please keep 'um comin'

    1. I too shall second those remarks. A very long time ago I forked over some very hard to come-by foreign exchange of the cash type to obtain INFORMATION SOURCE - ONE from this man based on a few articles and rumours of him holding great knowledge of my most favourite RR. It was from that beginning I was able to learn more "behind the scenes" than I was to deceifer from the limited books on hand at the time. I'm talking the 80's here in case you haven't guessed, I think '89 for Info-One. I for one consider myself better off for having met and conversed with DWP.
      Long may He continue.

      in New Zealand

    2. Wow!

      Thanks Guys...

      Damn!!! Now I have to keep doing this.

  7. Would any of the panoramic drawings of Denver shed any light on the looks and location of these buildings?

    1. Robert, I've looked at some of these - I'm sure there are more than I am aware of - and so far, not really. But in general you could use photos of the mezzo-Denver period as a guide. This period was post Cherry Creek Flood and fires so there were a good nuumber of brick buildings - especially the more substantial business buildings. But there were an awful of of wood structures too. Surprisingly this information is available if you know how to get it. Well a lot of it. The Sanborne maps are a great place to start. The achived building permits also offer good information. And there are other sources. But it's still a lot of work. At some point I'll talk a little more about the Colorado Ice & Cold Storage building for example. But don't count on me putting the terminal area under the microscope.