Passenger Cars of the South Park

Coaches #18 - 21


 U.P. 1885  DL&G 1889  C&S 1899  C&S 1906
#18 #68 #68 #163 #79
#19 #69 #69 Gone * Gone
#20 #66 #66 #162 #78
 #21  #67  #67  #161  #59

* Dropped from equipment 1890, roster spot declared vacant December 1895.

Coach #18, 19, 20 or 21 at Leadville, 1893

(1) The large and the small of it. Big "observation" windows on the near car, which is DL&G #66, #67 or #68. Smallest windows on the line on the next car, one of the Bowers-Dure coaches. Taken at Leadville, 1893 by H.H. Buckwalter. Photo at Digerness1-326 and Kindig-296(d).


Coaches #18-21 were very unusual looking cars, with their huge "observation" windows. We know there are few photos of them because they are so easy to recognize.

Coach #18, 19, 20 or 21 at Leadville, about 1915 (2) This may be the same car as in the above photo, as it is at Leadville (again) but 22 years later. Note that the large windows at the end of the car are either filled-in or covered (it's COLD out there). Photo at Kindig-297(u).


By March of 1880, the South Park was acquiring passenger equipment any way it could. During 1879, as end-of-track moved across South Park toward Gunnison, they had been building cars at a leisurely pace, but suddenly in October the way was opened to get into Leadville as well as Gunnison. Just as soon as the Rio Grande completed its tracks, they would be using those rails to bring business from that booming city.

While the South Park kept on building their own cars, they hastily bought six coaches from the New York Elevated Railroad. They leased six coaches from the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe. And they ordered four coaches and two baggage-mail-express cars from the Pullmans Palace Car Company. The four Pullman-built coaches were delivered in June, just about the same time as the leased coaches from the Atchison. For some as-yet-unknown reason, two of the six leased coaches were put on the roster before the Pullman-built coaches, and the remainder after. Thus the Pullman-built coaches with the "observation" windows became #18, #19, #20 and #21.

It would be interesting to know who had the idea for the giant observation windows. They certainly had to be great for observing the beautiful scenery through which the South Park would run.

Coaches #18 - #21 were renumbered #66 - #69 by the Union Pacific in 1885, but oddly, not in the same sequence as their old numbers (see table at top of page). The Denver, Leadville and Gunnison kept the same numbers. (It probably couldn't afford the paint to change them.) But it did replace the huge end windows, as can be seen from the three photographs. About 1890 something happened to #69, but we don't know what. It's spot on the roster was not formally vacated until 5 years later.


31 July 2006

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