Sunday, June 4, 2023

Telling Tales - Harry Brunk Tribute 4


"Your time period is a good one. The mix of equipment, freight cars, gives you a chance for some real variety. The only thing you lack is the beartrap. (My thinking only, of course.)

  "To fit in a 28 foot boxcar in my number scheme worried me until I realized that was what 200 to 209 was for. 210 starts the St. Charles cars. Then I remembered, checked, and sure enough, the car at Forks is a shorter car, so it can't be numbered to go with your Sn3 model, as a visual record of historic note. But WAIT! the car on the ground at Black Hawk near the turntable is just right. Have had a desire to dress it, and the immediate area up a bit, anyway. It is in process even now. It will show remnants of block lettering, and the very weathered number 205, I think.
 "Which brings up a point for discussion. Just how much weathering should your railroad be displaying on a block letter monogrammed car? Always some latitude, even though the block lettering would be the newer scheme showing at the time you are modeling. Don't want a fresh from the shops paint job, or do you? Think of Bob's weathered UC&N car, and give me an idea how close or far from that would seem right to you. Now we both agree, weathering isn't regular or predictable across an entire fleet of freight cars, and we both have seen examples of even recently painted cars that really got the ---- beat out of them. I plan no extremes, however. Then, in the 1930s, Bob's car has had at least some touch up work done, all be it not too recently. I'm remembering some block lettered C&S coal cars in the late teens that showed weathering is darned near a matter of choice, as to extreme or otherwise. 'Course these were coal cars, but box cars were normally only slightly less prone to getting messy, some times. Seems to almost bring it full circle, to the point that anything could still be right. Let me know your own personal druthers.
  "Enjoyed the visit, talk, and all. But have a feeling the host could have toured the line, and gotten a little more out there for you all, even as fast as the time flew by."

Car (shed - lower center) was apparently a 26' car

This email was dated 28 May 2008. I left the car with Harry to letter UC&N when the 4 of us visited Little Colorado a second time. This email makes clear Harry was having fun figuring out how to fit the Sn3 box car into his Union Central & Northern scheme of things. He actually could have used his first choice - that 26' car at Forks Creek - shown in the photo to the left because my car was a 26' car. But I am happy with what he did just the same nor does it change the story one bit. And that is what is most important to me (see Pre-History Part 5).
This all came about because I had discovered a modern (Sn3) box car decorated UC&N on our mutual friend's (Bob Axsom) layout at some point before our second visit. I asked Harry before hand if he would give one of my cars the same treatment. He agreed and I hand carried a built up and painted "The Cimarron Works" South Park box car to Little Colorado on our second visit.
As a modern car Bob's Sn3 model could have been a clone of an active car on the UC&N or it could have been a vacant number that simply never showed up on the home road. I never found that out, Nor was I particularly looking for my model to somehow fit into the scheme of things at Little Colorado. That was and still is one of those special, unexpected gifts that came with the package. Harry was willing and seemed to enjoy sharing the magic of the UC&N and to extend it beyond its own physical bounds. I recognize and honor this UC&N connection provided to the Trout Creek layout even to this day. 

The TC line is more oriented toward the integrity of history nevertheless, it is - or was - a fantasy in its own right. The model railroads of the past are every bit History as the  12" to the foot scale types that are just as locked into the past as the UC&N. So far as I know - especially in 1:64th scale - only Bob's car and mine have this distinction. It very well could be that Harry did similar cars in HO but the Sn3 C&S community was and still is so small I believe I would know about any such models.

This was the fate of UC&N 205 by 1932

In his message Harry describes how he arrived at the particular road number he gave my car. Thinking ahead he left the first 10 box car assignments (200 - 209) blank so that older box cars could show up on the layout as small shed structures. The 26, 27, and 30 foot cars that came to the C&S when that company was incorporated  (late 1898) are generally referred to as "inherited" cars because they came to the new company by way of several Union Pacific related roads between 1881 and 1898. Modern cars were built for and by the C&S between 1898 and 1910. By 1920 nearly all inherited cars were gone or at best set out as small "structures" scattered over C&S property. A few were sold to private citizens for the same purpose. Thus Harry provided the UC&N with a reserve of logical road numbers to represent this practice. Into that pool he reached to call on 205 as part of the history of the UC&N - what an honor!.
The Trout Creek layout was that portion of the C&S set in 1910 that I modeled. It was built with the intent to closely follow the historical narrative of the prototype. Inherited cars were still very much in abundance in 1910 and models on the TC layout were appropriately dated. This collaboration between 1930s UC&N and 1910 C&S unexpectedly created an opportunity of story telling. And is it not the story that gives life to our efforts?

A few years (1936) later the car was more deteriorated

The Tale
Uncle Bender was a young Arkansan who took up adventure in Colorado around the turn of the century. He also took up a camera and a collection of photographs that he eventually passed on to his posterity; myself among them. In his collection were found a number of views of the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge dating from summers of 1909 and '10. He apparently spent the '09 summer in Buena Vista about 20 miles west of Trout Creek Pass. He  captured both Denver & Rio Grande and Colorado Midland trains as well but I don't have access to those photos.
He happened to catch an unusual sight at the wye located at Bath. By this time Bath (or Hill Top) was closed as a station. Heavy laden trains with several engines would labor up the pass from either direction and then cut off the helpers which were turned and send back to help the next train. But that wasn't what Bender saw on this day.


Uncle Bender caught 205 one 1909 afternoon at Bath

I should explain that Colorado narrow gauge roads typically owned and operated mostly their own rolling stock, Foreign equipment on their systems was not common but it did happen. There isn't any record why a UC&N car found its way the top of Trout Creek Pass. That isn't the story - lest we make something up. It was there that Uncle Bender recorded it on film. That's the story; at least part of it. Read on.
The car showed up at more than one location that demonstrated a certain presents over perhaps months - maybe longer. But eventually it made its way back home because we see in Bender's photos more than 20 years later little 205 relegated to shed status at Black Hawk, Little Colorado. Yes, in the 1930s after teaching school in Arkansas Bender returned to Colorado and ventured up Clear Creek Canyon,
What he witnessed was the changes put upon the railroads by the Interstate Commerce Commission that required the presents of greater safety equipment on all railroad equipment that could potentially cross state lines. Like the C&S, the UC&N scrapped or reassigned old worn out cars rather that refit them to the new requirements. And so the prodigal went home to be taken off of its trucks and set on the ground as a shed.

Better that - I guess - rather than being torched to recover the metal...
A few weeks later he caught it again at Longs Creek

 That's the story; in all of its "excitement". Please enjoy Uncle Bender's photos - and more importantly join in my gratitude and honor in memories of my friend Harry Brunk.

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