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, 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
6 Comments - Click Here :
  1. Chris,

    In one of your posts to the forum, you had a picture of a short spur that was said to be used for unloading tank cars. There was a storage tank just downhill from this location. Is this the same location you are referring to?


    1. Doug,
      That siding was back up Clear Creek between the Chamberlain Sampler and the 2nd Water Tank/Sectionhouse location. This CONX#8 unloading area seems to be very late in the C&S operations and is on Chicago Creek. Odd to think that I had this sanborn photo postcard and couldn't quite connect the dots....grrrr! The Oil House siding to which you refer doesn't seem to figure much after the construction of that square building where the Tankbody was located below the gradewas called Moscript&Hassell's planing house on Sanborn maps. Is it worthy of a Forum revisit?


      in New Zealand

  2. Chris,

    I'm still in contact with Lynn Stull on a weekly bases. Bob is in a nursing home and still might be able to answer some questions. Let me know.

    Doug Junda

    1. Thank You Doug,

      I last saw Bob in 2012, without any paper references that he had on hand, I doubt it. It isn't so much to do with the Big5 Tunnel info that Bob found, the receiver details of the supply traffic doesn't mean that much too me, just where and learning more about the actual location of the unloading area has been my main focus. Finding a photo taken from the street beside Chicago Cr with the Conx8 or CONOCO Dealer in plain sight would be the icing on this cake.

      in New Zealand

  3. I was too young to have remember seeing this in IS.My first memory started about Aug 1946 and I still have not figured there where this Kelley photo was taken. Thanks to all for sharing your info. Art Gibson (William A. Gibson Jr.)

    1. Thanks for the contact Art, I am indebted to you for supplying those pictures taken by Mr Kelly and also by your Dad that were published in Harry's Gazette series.

      in New Zealand