"The townsite of Romley is located at roughly 10,500' ASL near the base of the north shoulder of the ridge running more or less southward to the peak of Pomeroy Mt. El. 13,161' ASL. Just to it's east runs the small creek of Pomeroy Gulch which empties into Chalk Creek north east of the town site..."
|Romley (formerly Murphy's Switch) about 1900|
In the summer of 1910 the Colorado & Southern mainline still came west down Trout Creek Canyon, crossed the Arkansas River and continued up Chalk Creek to the top of Altman Pass. This was the location of the Alpine Tunnel which passed thru the Continental Divide at that point.
In those days Buena Vista was a short branch from the Wye at Schwanders located at the bottom of Trout Creek Canyon before the line crossed the River.
|Romley depot & boarding - ? artist (1950s?).|
In late summer Trout Creek washed out the line and in the fall of 1910 a small cave-in at the Tunnel cut off the entire Gunnison Division. This isolated the Chalk Creek line completely and suddenly there was a microcosm of the narrow gauge from Buena Vista to Hancock. It was a sad moment in the Railroad's history but fortuitous for a modeler with limited space and budget. I had planned one day to model most of the branch but at the moment Romley was all I had room for.
In December 1983 my first wife and I rented a home in Parker, Colorado
and once again I had a place where I could build a layout. As I recall
it was about 10 feet long and 18 or so inches wide. I allowed this was
enough room to make a fair representation of the Romley station in 1/4"
Traffic on the line was light and rarely was there more than one locomotive for 3 trains a week. It wasn't long before traffic to Hancock and Romley became the west terminal. Buena Vista had the most activity but it was a pair of very long tracks where cars were collected for exchange to and from Leadville. The Denver & Rio Grande line up the Arkansas River to Leadville was the only connection the road had to the rest of the system. Buena Vista would have been as interesting as Romley but the latter with it precipitous location seemed more interesting to model and was a better choice for the room I had.
Since the track above Romley was no longer maintained, the wye at Hancock was out of reach. A turntable was put it just above the depot in 1915. The large depot that was moved from Hancock in 1890 burned down in 1908 and a new smaller depot was built at Romley. I found a watercolor at an antique show that I instantly recognized and purchased very cheap (the artist is unknown). This was some years after the layout had been dismantled but it still contributed to my understanding of the location. The painting shows, left to right, the 2 story boarding house and the stable behind it. Across the road was the depot and the Post Office below it. The road on the left goes up to the Mary Murphy Mine. If you study the first photo you will see how the structures related the same.
|The tram house just above the grade|
The layout included Pomeroy Gulch and iron truss bridge. I laid my track as much as I could discern up to the depot - which was never ready for this layout. I advanced the scenery fairly well and eventually
had a few representative buildings but there were a lot of compromises. My knowledge of the location was still very limited in 1983; very little detail was available in what few books I could obtain or what I could find on location. We had visited the site a few years earlier and camped on the town site below the grade. By then most of the structures were collapsed or gone.
|The Pomroy iron truss bridge - 1981|
The photo below was very helpful in building the bridge. The cars on my bridge were scratch built using Grandt Line parts and trucks. This was before San Juan Car Co. offered O scale kits of the cars in the early1990s. In fact, they used my drawings of the cars to develop the kits.
Some time in the 1890s the railroad built a trestle behind the truss
bridge in order to extend the passing track down line from the gulch. You can see
this extension in the top photo. I was not aware of the trestle when I
built this layout as there was no evidence of it when we camped there in
the summer of 1981. This trestle was apparently abandoned by 1918, the
date of the layout, and I incorrectly double tracked the truss bridge.
|Several scratch built box cars over the bridge|
|This would be a morning view at Romley|
|No. 62 approaches St. Elmo|
|The yard at Romley|
I believe I scrapped this layout when we moved from Parker; though it seems part of it was in a spare bedroom in the house we rented in Colorado Springs. As I grew to understand the station more I became dissatisfied with the layout. I felt I could do better when a larger space became available, But by the time that happened I had moved on to another part of the railroad and adopted another scale. In the meantime there would be another, smaller shelf layout of this location in O scale.
I have visited Romley many times and each time a little more of it has disappeared. The last time I went thru Romley was in 2006 on our way to the 26th
National Narrow Gauge Convention in Durango. We crossed over Hancock Pass (12,140' ASL), a fairly mild 4-wheel road and followed the railroad grade down to U.S. Hwy 50. Then from Montrose we headed south over Red Mountain Pass to Durango. We did it all in my infamous 1998 Jeep
|My incorrect depiction at the Watercolor location|
|No 62 in comparison to my stock No. 60|
Wrangle. That was a long day and the long way from Denver. As I recall we rode the Georgetown Loop and the Leadville Railroad to Climax while we were at it. Wow! We did all that in one day?