Coaches #16, #17, #22 & #24
We’ve lumped together the stories of these four coaches because they all came from the same builder, Bowers, Dure & Company, and, so far as we know, were identical (see HISTORY, below). They appear in quite a few photos, but generally can’t be individually identified. They are readily identified as to builder by their distinctive platform roofs and small windows.
When they were received, these coaches were short (35'-0") had end platforms at both ends, 13 rather small, arched, single-pane windows set low and opening upward, with a very wide letterboard painted white with dark lettering, and a hooded platform roof. The hooded platform roof was generally created by extending a "hoop" of metal from the letterboard on one side of the car out over the end platform and across to the letterboard on the other side. This "hoop" served as a support for a sort of sheet metal awning that extended down from the roof of the car.
The siding on these cars is not board-and-batten as may at first appears. It is a type of paneling similar to that on the Pullman sleepers. The white letterboards may have been a characteristic of equipment on the Atchison, as no other South Park passenger cars are known to have been painted this way [though there were quite a few box cars that had white fascia (which may also have come from the Atchison)]. The white letterboards apparently disappeared by the time of the 1885 renumbering. The photo below shows the distinctive white letterboard, the paneling and the hood-like platform roof:
The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe had hopes of getting into the Colorado mountains ahead of the Denver & Rio Grande, and in February of 1878 sent crews into the mountains to stake their claim to the Raton Pass. In April of that year they tried to do the same with the Royal Gorge, but were beaten to the punch by the Rio Grande, setting off the well-known “war” over the Royal Gorge. But the Rio Grande had financial problems, and though he won the war for the Gorge, by October, General Palmer had no choice but to lease his road to the Atchison in order to prevent foreclosure. The Atchison then offered to finance the South Park’s line into Leadville, but was rebuffed. In August of 1879 the Rio Grande lease was nullified, and a receiver appointed.
The Atchison had purchased a large amount of narrow gauge equipment during the year, not all of which had reached Colorado. But it now had nothing to do with it. The South Park graciously helped out by leasing most, if not all, of it. Included in the deal were six first class passenger coaches just built for them by the obscure Delaware firm of Bowers, Dure & Co. (3) They had been delivered to the Atchison at Pueblo 2 August 1879. They would be delivered to the South Park in May 1880. It appears they were not all received at the same time, as they went on the South Park roster as #16, #17, and #21 - #25. Two of the last received—#23 and #25—were immediately converted to combination baggage-coach by the addition of a baggage door.
First-class coaches #16, #17, #22 and #24 were renumbered #59 - 62 by the Union Pacific in 1885, since they were all of the same type, by the same builder, and the same length. (All the factors that were considered important, apparently!) They had lost their fancy paneling and white letterboards by 1884. Here’s what they looked like by the mid-1880s:
31 July 2006