Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Harry Brunk's 30 Year Old Mystery: More Pieces | 1 Comments - Click Here :

    Chris Walker - Here I present you with a couple more pieces of the Jigsaw that is Idaho Springs.  The Conx#8 Tankcar unloading site that has evaded location for all these years.
    I am amazed that I haven't caught this earlier and I bet Harry Brunk will be too if he ever sees this info!  It has been under our very noses for so long, and it took my understanding of the rise and demise of the Milling industry in Idaho Springs to bring these pieces together.
    I had often looked into this [1940] scene in The Mineral Belt III,  just another general view of Idaho Springs and one I thought that Digerness had got the date wrong. There appeared to be no track structure present on the roadbed.  Several people are visible on the r-o-w so I (wrongly) assumed it was post-abandonment until the penny dropped:  I had failed to notice #60 and Coach are not on display between the gas-station and the creek.  They came later in 1941.  This was one important piece of the jigsaw.

From pg 252 of The Mineral Belt V-III, David S. Digerness, Sundance Pub. 1982

Accordingly enlarged to reveal as best as can be presented here;

"A" the Silver Group of 3 Structures. As also revealed in DPL X-2283.
"B" a Black object larger than automobiles on the post-1930 alignment of the Chicago Creek Hwy 103.
"C" the wedge-shaped structure.

    Above is the Sanborn Postcard from my collection that I was uncertain of the date, could these have both been taken on the same day?  It shows the same structure "C"  and the previously un-noticed black object "B",  could this be CONX #8?  The "A" structure group doesn't stand out at all.
    The location of "B" certainly fits with being at the very end of the Jackson Mill siding shown incomplete on the 1908 Sanborn Map.

    Cross checking with other pictures in the DPL collection yielded this DPL X-2283 enlargement of the Silver Group of  3 Structures which to my eye, resembles two gabled out buildings with a horizontal Tank in between.  Not quite the conclusive proof that this could be the CONOCO Depot as I see no signage present to indicate such a dealership.

    The reader may note in Harry Brunk's January/February 1989 Gazette title photo, a pipe is visible laying alongside the siding trackage in back of the CONX #8 which would indicate the the Fuel load was pumped to a storage Tank most likely out of sight to the left of picture.  Let's not forget the existence of new, painted structures in this area of old, gritty Mill structures does add to the positive side of the ledger.

DPL X-2283  

More for your deliberations.....
Chris Walker
in New Zealand

Friday, September 11, 2015

Harry Brunk's 30 Year Old Mystery: Another Piece Of The Jigsaw | 6 Comments - Click Here :

    Chris Walker - In the NG&SL Gazette January/February 1989 issue, in Up Clear Creek On The Narrow Gauge Part 54, Harry Brunk wrote:

" Other information is still elusive.  We know that a CONOCO tank car was delivered to Idaho Springs.  My thanks to Art Gibson who provided an interesting photo of CONX 8 unloading there.  My fellow researcher, Jim Coats, continues to search for its exact destination.  Someone at the Idaho Springs convention mentioned that CONX 8 may have been consigned solely for Diesel and gasoline deliveries to the Big 5 Tunnel operation. "

      That CONX 8 tank car picture was posted later in the Nov/Dec'89 NG&SL Gazette issue:

CONX #8 is shown at Idaho Springs in the summer of 1940, apparently draining her load into an underground 
storage tank. Ormand Kelley took this photo with Frank O. Kelley standing in front of the car. This is a rare view 
of this car out of a train in Idaho Springs. Photo, collection of W.A. Gibson Jr.

Harry went on to write in Part 59 of his series,

"For several years, my friend, Jim Coats, has been searching for the spot where CONX #8 unloaded her cargo in Idaho Springs, Colorado.  Jim has access to good sources, but neither the local residents, who were around during the railroad years, or official records have provided an answer."

Harry subsequently wrote,

"Don Meeker, owner of Colorado Scale Models, told me that rail history buff, Bob Stull, has information that CONX #8 may have been contracted to the Big Five Tunnel operation on the western edge of Idaho Springs.  Whether these loads were always Diesel fuel, or sometimes gasoline, this contract would fit with how the car seems to have been operated."

"  When art Gibson sent the title photo by Ormond Kelley, he mentioned that it was the only photo he had ever seen that showed CONX #8 on its siding at Idaho Springs.  The tank car is being unloaded at what seems the western edge of town.  It is highly likely that the load is being dumped into an underground tank, since the structure just visible on the right of the photo is quite distant from the car and is actually on the other side of Clear Creek."

Here is an enlargement of the scenery and the "Structure" in the picture.

    Ever since that Nov/Dec '89 NG&SL Gazette arrived in my mailbox, this intrigued me as I kept thinking that the background at the Big 5 Tunnel siding didn't fit with what I thought I saw on my '82 trip.  Over the years I revisited and came to the conclusion it was just "somewhere else" in Idaho Springs.   Eventually I was to become very good friends with Bob Stull and his wife Lynn but I just plain forgot to revisit this mystery with Bob.

    A decade or so ago, an Antique shop owner friend in California photographed several Postcards she was selling as she knew of my interests and sent them to me.  These were also put away in the "nice to have" file but not relevant to the Mill photos that I sought.  After recently re-reading Harry's excellent articles and delving into this matter, my interest was reawakened...... and thanks to Google Streetview I was able to revisit I.S. from 7400 miles away.

Looking South at about the location of the Big 5 Tunnel Siding....of which I have never seen a photo of yet!
Looking North as close as I can get, just a few yards further West due to an Interstate sound wall.

    Looking hard at the "Structure" I concluded that it wasn't on the other side of Clear Creek but much closer, appearing not to be a large structure like a Mill but more smaller like a Ore chute and the open front also resembled a sloped chute.  Behind the Tank car there was no high canyon walls but a low, pine covered slope with a distant Ridge visible behind, and also a rather pronounced line of rock such as found at a mine waste dump or mill tailings pile that intrigued me....

A quick recheck on the now familiar Chicago Creek Confluence area yielded this picture at the former location 
of the Hudson Mill and the Jackson Mill. There is a Forest Service Building here now, slightly further 
up the creek is the newish I.S. High School built on the site of the Waltham Cyanide Plant.

    That "distant Ridge" seen behind the Handbrake end of CONX 8 is actually almost where the Big 5 Tunnel penetrated the hills separating Clear Creek from Virginia Canyon.   Given that this area would have had remediation work done here the scene is remarkable consistent.

    Enter the filed away Sanborn postcard...  Note visible in this view "around 1940" there now is no Jackson Mill, nor Hudson Mill either and the "new" Mill that adjoined the old Wiley Sampler with an overhead Conveyor shed that spanned the C&S tracks can be made out, just !   The I.S. Depot is still in its original location but as to whether this photo is before or after abandonment I cannot say.

    "A"  is the Waltham Cyanide Plant,  "B" maybe the "Structure" seen behind CONX #8, and C is the roadbed of
the Big 5 Tunnel tramway that served the Hudson Mill.

    "A"  is the Waltham Cyanide Plant,  "B" maybe the "Structure" seen behind CONX #8, and C is the roadbed of the Big 5 Tunnel tramway that served the Hudson Mill.

    Keep in mind until I posted the following views here http://c-sn3-discussion-forum.41377.n7.nabble.com/Idaho-Springs-Mid-Town-Ore-Processing-Part-3-tp2512.html, proof of the C&S trackage serving the Jackson and Hudson Mills had not yet been brought to light.

I will leave this to your deliberation as to whether I am correct in my conclusion, or way off base....

Chris Walker
in New Zealand