The Utah Colorado Western Railroad (ucwrr.com) had a unique construction technique to minimize the number of legs necessary to support benchwork.The AT&SG Railroad adapted this technique of using TGI beams for long spans with 2x4 legs.It was decided to use the TGI panels only in the back along the wall to allow access under the front edge of the layout.The photo shows the TGI beams with the backdrop framework in place along the wall.This construction surrounds the layout on the three sides against the wall.
The board of trustees was very adamant about any construction impacting the walls of the railroad room.The policy was that the layout must be freestanding.In the previous version of this railroad the backdrop panels were attached to the walls.When the railroad was disassembled there the walls had to be repaired and refinished.The board of directors declared “Never again.”To accomplish this free standing benchwork the framework for the backdrop is attached to the back of the TGI beams and also secured against the 2x4 legs which were extended to reach the top of the sky. Nothing is attached to the walls of the railroad room.The photo shows this framework before the hardboard is in place.This framework will be covered with ¼ inch hardboard and then wallpapered with muslin to provide a smooth surface for the backdrop painting of sky, mountains, and horizon scenery.
The diagram is an early draft of the plan for the railroad. This is a work in progress. Check back at a future date to see modifications in this plan. The board room is not shown but is a 14 x 14 foot room at the bottom of the diagram with a stair case coming up at the lower right of the diagram (only partially shown).
The yard at the left is Ascape and some associated industries. Staging is under Ascape with trains entering the railroad on the circular track around the access hole. Trains will eventually return to staging via the same helix but entering from the tracks behind Ascape (not complete on the diagram). These tracks behind Ascape are 9 inches above the yard tracks. Tennsion is the sidings at the right of the diagram. The track then circles the peninsula across the large trestle at Sulphur Gulch at the top end of the peninsula. The sidings at the lower part of the peninsula are Castle Coal.
After crossing Sulphur Gulch taking the left branch the track climbs to a higher elevation and the switch backs lead to the Sawhill Timber lumber area. Beyond Sawhill the railroad returns above Tennsion circling the upper part of the plan returning above Ascape until it reenters the helix to return to staging.
Instead of returning to staging a branch line runs to Park City (also not yet connected in the plan which is in the lower left of the plan.
Staging is a double ended yard with a return loop under the upper left corner of the layout.
With the floor protected and the windows moved above the sky it was time to start construction …. But WAIT. Construction was put on hold when the key personnel of the AT&SG Railroad were asked to return to Hawaii for a second time to help with distance education at Brigham Young University – Hawaii. The president did manage to include a box of structures and a minimum set of tools in the shipment of household goods to Hawaii. But alas, no time and the box sat in the closet unopened for the duration of the tour. The tour of duty was scheduled for 23 months starting in January 2008. However some serious health problems required a return to Utah after only 10 months. Perhaps construction could resume on the railroad.
The railroad room was completed with a beautiful bamboo hardwood floor, all shinning and bright. The day construction was to begin the chairwoman asked with some alarm in her voice, “How are you going to protect my floor.” Explaining drop cloths and the great care that would be exercised during construction failed to satisfy the concern. The board of directors issued a new policy, the floor under the railroad must be covered with something that would protect the hardwood so that it would be preserved should the railroad sometime in the future once again fall on hard times and find that it must be relocated. After considerable research quite by accident the president stumbled on a product called Tarkett which is manufactured in Luxemburg. It is a vinyl product with a soft fabric back. It lays flat without gluing. The pattern just happened to match the stone tile on the refreshment bar in the board room. A perfect solution … the chairwoman is happy, the president is happy and the floor is happy. Of course the previous policy requiring drop clothes and great car during construction is still in force
During an early inspection of the new railroad room it was noted that the windows all seemed a bit too low. The blueprint called for the bottom of the windows to be at 72 inches. The existing height in the newly framed structure was only 60 inches. The president confronted the contractor about this discrepancy. “You can’t see out of the windows if they are six feet from the floor,” he said. “Exactly!” exclaimed the president. “You see,” he explained, “the windows must be above the sky.” The contractor gave a very puzzled look to this comment. The president explained how a backdrop behind the train would contain painting of the sky, mountains and other geological feature to extend the horizon of the railroad. He explained that the sky extends up to 6 feet which is above the eye level of most observers. Having the windows above the sky allowed light to enter the room without interfering with the sky or mountains that would be behind the railroad all around the room. The contractor gave an “Aha” and ordered the windows moved up above the sky.
The chairwoman of the board and the president of the railroad acquired property in St. George, Utah. Being amateur architects they worked together to design a new home. As the plan neared completion the president pointed out that no real estate had been identified for the reconstituted AT&SG. “Perhaps it could occupy one bay of the garage,” the chairwoman suggested. A couple of historical and climatic facts may be helpful to the reader to understand this negotiation. The Logan, Utah AT&SG occupied two basement rooms each 15 by 24 feet. The railroad shared one of the rooms which served occasionally as a recreation room but otherwise the railroad occupied most of the space. A third adjoining room served as a shop for the railroad. Fact number two: while winters are usually mild, the temperature in St. George in the summer often exceeds 100° Fahrenheit. Air conditioning solves the problem when the space is occupied but have you ever seen what happens to track when there is wide range of temperature (think expand and contract)? The president vetoed the garage real estate as not acceptable, besides the garage was needed for the shop. So the architects went back to the drawing board. A basement was ruled out because of soil conditions. The answer was found by going up, a second story was added over one wing of the house providing a very nice bonus (i.e. railroad) room (see photo). The reconstituted AT&SG will be more compact but with good design will still be able to serve its industries efficiently providing for interesting railroad action. The tax assessment woman who visited the house after its completion was very confused by the blue print which indicated that this was the railroad room. She had never evaluated a railroad room before.
There was, however, one more stage to the negotiations. Once the house was far enough along to allow a walk through inspection it became obvious that the view from the front of the “railroad room” was spectacular. “Wow,” exclaimed the chairwoman, “what a view!” The front section of the railroad room was reclaimed as a sitting area, i.e. board room, and alternative bedroom for visiting grandchildren. The available real estate was once more reduced to the rear section of the railroad room. It is still a respectable size and more likely to be completed within the lifetime of the president. The photo shows the "board room."
The Ascape Tennsion & Sulphur Gulch Railroad is a little known branch line from the town of Ascape to the mining town of Park City. It connects with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad through the Wasatch mountains West to Provo and again from Echo Junction East to Grand Junction.
The ATSG branch line originated at the turn of the last century. There were two primary needs for this railroad: Hauling coal from Castle Coal mines in Coalville to the iron and steel plant in Provo and bringing silver ore from the Silver king mine in Park City to the processing plant in Provo. The biggest challenge in getting through Whetstone Ridge to Ascape was to cross the deep canyon known as Sulphur Gulch. Building the large wooden trestle at Sulphur Gulch enabled access to the coal and silver. The coal mines at Castle and the ore at Park City justified the expense and effort to construct this structure. Because of its significance to the construction of the railroad, and because the Upper and Lower Cadi Falls on Lost Creek is such an attraction for tourists, Sulphur Gulch was included in the name of the railroad. The wooden structure was constructed during the peak of the ore production at the Silver King mine and has never been replaced with a more modern trestle.
At the current time, 1937, while the major silver mining activity has declined significantly, there is still sufficient ore being processed to justify a string of hoppers to the Silver King Tipple several times week. This ore is shipped to Provo for processing. Castle Coal is still very active and produces a significant number of car loads of coal every day.
The railroad has considerable business hauling cattle from the Smellie Cattle Ranch to the meat packing house in Ascape and to markets in the East by way of Echo and on to Grand Junction. The small farming community of Tennsion has also proved to be a major supplier of hay, grain and fruit especially to markets int he East. As the road made its way across Pine Mountain on its way to Park City it spawned a small lumber camp that supplied logs to the sawmill at Tucker Junction. The resulting lumber is shipped to Western markets via Prove and Eastern markets via Grand Junction.
Two D&RG rains pass through Ascape each day. The East bound train delivers supplies and empties from Provo and picks up Eastbound traffic for Grand Junction and destinations East. The Westbound train delivers supplies and empties from the Grand Junction connection in the East and picks up traffic bound for the West via the Provo connection. The railroad has petitioned the D&RG for a daily Eastbound and Westbound passenger train. It is hoped that this route will be approved in the near future.
For a small railroad, during the depression, the AT&SG is remarkably active. The railroad and its associated industries own several locomotives which are serviced at the railroad's facilities in Ascape and the small engine shop in Park City. The amount of traffic justifies two local trains daily, which deliver goods to the several industries serviced by the railroad in Ascape, Tennsion, Smellie Cattle, Tucker Junction, Coalville, Echo Junction and Park City. A local passenger train delivers milk, mail, and passengers to destinations along the route both morning and evening.
The original AT&SG RR was located in Logan Utah but a move to St. George Utah required the reconstruction of this railroad.Welcome to this blog which will document this reconstruction effort.Your comments are welcome.If you are in the St. George area you are welcome to visit this railroad.The blog will indicate the progress on the reconstruction so you can determine whether or not a visit is worthwhile. The photos in this post are from the Logan location prior to the move.
Thanks for your interest.AT&SG Railroad stock is available.Its value has been considerably reduced by the depression (remember 1930s) but if you believe this railroad will continue to thrive this may be a good time to invest.
History updated January 10, 2010 (revisionist history).