The Southern Colorado and Lake Lenore Railroad is a little known short line in South -West Colorado. It originally joined the D&RGW at Ouray and travelled alongside the Uncompahgre River to reach Silverton. It was opened at the turn of the 21st Century, by General Fallon Ninto De Kay a once wealthy businessman, to tap into the mineral and timber resources found in the area. Realising that the way to a small fortune was to start with a large one, General De Kay abandoned the line and the last logging train left Ouray behind Shay number 5 on August 5th 2017. This event was recorded by Evet S. Kook, photographer and editor of the local newspaper, the Ouray Anupshe Riser.
The line was largely forgotten and fell into serious decay until a couple of brothers and their business partner, with time on their hands and surplus cash from their thriving garden earthenware business, heard about the derelict railroad. Ben and Bill Flowers and Lilian D. Wede (Lil to her friends) had the route surveyed and bought the track bed and what was left of the permanent way and rolling stock.
Bill was asked to make a comment for the newspaper about the purchase and in a high pitched voice said ‘ Ah. Flibob dipop Wede. Flobadob’. (Trans. – We are opening a tourist trail and railroad.)
They have appointed a site engineer, Fuller D. Earthwurk, and General Manager, Sergeant Major Over C. Yokels, to supervise the works and she has recruited staff and volunteers for the task. Miss Yokels told the reporter that the refurbishment is planned to be in several or eightal phases.
Phase 1 (now completed) comprised;-
Rebuilding canyon retaining walls; 20 or so bricks in the wall surrounding the plot that had lost their mortar bonding. Lifting the remaining track to assess its serviceability; most of the timber sleepers in the yard area had rotted but the rails were ok . Agricultural earthwork; making a raised vegetable bed in the middle of the plot next to the ‘lake’. Relaying and re-aligning the track bed; lifting and relaying the Thermalite blocks that had been installed since 2006 to act as the foundation for the tracks and which were still in good enough condition to serve another decade or so.
Phase 2 (also completed) rebuilding around the lake including the boulder bed between the forest and lake. The ‘lake’ (pond ) was made smaller for wildlife as it hasn’t had fish in it for ten years and the water plants had run riot. The ‘boulder bed’ comprises most of the flints, large and small that have been dug out of the flower beds over the previous thirty years or more.
Phase 3 (now in its final stage) re-planting all around the site. Mainly down to Miss Yokels or Crystal as we know her (it’s what the C. stands for)
Phase 4 (underway after eight weeks of lockdown) re-sleepering the plain track and rebuilding the turnouts.
The following phases are yet to be done:-
Phase 5 The original track plan is to be simplified, omitting the lake junction switch, the spur and the track bed, which should have crossed the lake via two Queen post timber trestle bridges both of which are in store and ninety per cent complete. It is proposed to install them elsewhere as a feature over one of the dry creek beds.
Phase 6 A Wye (triangle) will be added at a later date to enable locos and trains to be turned around.
Phase 7 There is no Phase 7
Phase 8 Off to the shops for some fancy clothes for Crystal to wear at the Grand Opening…..