FLORENCE & CRIPPLE CREEK RAILROAD

The Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad (F&CC) was a 3 ft  (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad running northward from junctions with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad at the mill towns of Florence and later moved to Canon City, CO, on the banks of the Arkansas River, up steep and narrow Phantom Canyon to the Cripple Creek Mining District, west of Pikes Peak

Started in 1893, it was the first railroad to reach the new, booming mining district from the "outside world"; as a result it earned substantial profits in its first years. The railroad hauled people and goods into the mining district, and ore concentrates from the mines south for milling in Florence or transfer to the D&RG for milling in Pueblo, CO. The F&CC's first main terminal was located in Victor, the "second city" of the district; but its branch lines served many of the largest mines within the area.

Ultimately, the F&CC began to struggle financially as other competing railroads, built to the 4 ft 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gaugeMidland Terminal and Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railroads entered the district from Colorado Springs from the north or east. In addition, flash floods washed out significant sections of the F&CC mainline in the narrows of Phantom Canyon several times. By the early 1900's, the railroad was in serious financial trouble and merged with other railroads of the area under the Cripple Creek Central holding company. A final, large flash flood destroyed enough of the F&CC's right-of-way to convince its new owners it was financially unwise to spend money rebuilding it; and the line was abandoned and scrapped. The F&CC's well-kept motive power, eight 2-8-0 Consolidation freight engines, and four 4-6-0 Ten-Wheelers passenger engines, were quickly sold to other area narrow gauge railroads. An F&CC subsidiary, the Golden Circle Railroad, which operated narrow gauge commuter routes within the district itself, continued to operate for several more years after its parent's abandonment.(Courtesy of Wikipedia)At its peak, the gold camp was served by three railroads and two electric trolley systems.  The narrow-gauge Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad came up from Florence through Phantom Canyon, climbing 5,000 feet in 40 miles.  Called "The Gold Belt Line," this train ran three times a day until 1912, when its roadbed was washed out by a flood.

The Midland Terminal, a standard-gauge railroad, ran from Colorado Springs over Ute Pass, through Gillett and Victor, on its way to Cripple Creek.  The trip was 55 miles long, and passengers could choose from four trains that ran each day.  The Midland offered freight service as well, but closed in 1949 when a new mill opened near Victor.

The Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railroad was called "The Short Line."  It started in 1901, and featured the most direct route between Colorado Springs and the gold camp, following a route that is Gold Camp Road today.

The camp's trolley systems were electric trains.  One ran from Cripple Creek to Victor; the other connected the two towns and also served the communities of Elkton and Anaconda.  Both systems shut down in 1922.

Two electric streetcar systems - the Low Line and the High Line - offered service day and night to Cripple Creek and Victor and the biggest mines.

(Courtesy of Wikipedia and Visit Cripple Creek Colorado websites)

The Cripple Creek & Victor Railroad is still operating as a tourist venture - click here for details or check out Trip Advisor here

Links:  http://www.visitcripplecreek.com/businesses/railroads 

Photos of Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, Cripple Creek
This photo of Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad is courtesy of TripAdvisor

MAINE NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD MUSEUM 

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum is dedicated to the preservation of Maine’s two-foot gauge railways for the education and enjoyment of the public.  The museum is open daily from May 1st – October 31st, and seasonally for special events.

History:

Starting in the latter part of the 19th century, Maine had a unique system of railroads that ran on rail only two feet apart. Eventually there were five of these railroads serving rural areas in central Maine.

The Maine Two-Footers were the economic engine of Maine at the turn of the 20th Century. The perfect size for a big country with a small population, these five railroads hauled product—and a few people—from a huge interior rich in timber and other resources. Today, they are an economic engine of a different sort, attracting tourists not only where they operate, but to their remnants across Maine.

The idea of a two foot railroad came about after a Massachusetts man named George Mansfield visited Wales in the 1870's and saw the Festiniog Railway      ( which was actually only 23.5 inches wide).  In 1875 he established the Billerica & Bedford Railroad, the first commercial two-footer in America. When the people of Franklin County, Maine, wanted a railroad, George Mansfield’s two-footer seemed ideal. The narrow gauge and smaller trains were less expensive to construct and easier to run through rough terrain.


Continue on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes or one of the other Maine Two-Footers: Bridgton & Saco River (later the Bridgton & Harrison); Monson; Kennebec Central; Wiscasset and Quebec (later the Wiscasset, Waterville, & Farmington)

From the 1870s until the 1940s, some 200 miles of narrow gauge lines served the state’s smaller communities.


Today

In more recent times, the Maine Narrow Gauge Rail Company & Museum, affords visitors the opportunity  relive railroading as it once was and come to understand the railroads’ importance to Maine’s economic development.

Founded in 1992, the Maine Narrow Gauge RR is a non-profit educational organization relying on the services of 100+ volunteers, who lay and maintain the track; inspect, repair, and operate the trains; and run the museum.  In September 1993, the organization’s visionary founders brought the historic locomotives and cars back to Maine from the Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts. The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad has become an important attraction for the greater Portland area, drawing thousands of tourists and area residents to the Old Port to see and experience this remarkable piece of Maine’s history.

They have the unique pleasure of riding along the shore of Casco Bay in an antique rail car pulled by historic steam or diesel locomotives. The route follows the 1846 right of way of the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad, linking Portland with Montreal.  During a three-mile round-trip, visitors take in the sights of the waterfront, harbour, and islands, all described – along with the story of Maine’s narrow-gauge railroads – by the conductors.



Photos of Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum, Portland
This photo of Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

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