Passenger Cars of the South Park

Coach-Baggage #6 - (unnamed)


U.P. 1885 DL&G 1889 C&S 1899 C&S 1906
#6 #701 #701 #123 #23

South Park #6, renumbered #701, at Denver 1886

(1) South Park #6, renumbered #701, at Denver 1886. (Click pic for enlargement.) Jennings & Russell photo at Digerness1-63(u), Ehernberger/UP-9, Ferrell/SoPk-208 and Poor-461(ME).


Car #6—for some reason unnamed—was a combination coach-baggage car with end platforms at both ends. If it ever had board and batten siding or an oval name panel, as many people expect, they were gone by 1886, the date of the earliest photo weve found (above).

Coach-baggage #6 looked every bit like a kit for a short 13-window coach in which the builder had substituted a baggage door for two of the windows. These windows were all modestly arched and double-pane, and the ones nearest the ends appear slightly larger than the others. In the baggage end, the frames for these windows appear to have contained a solid panel instead of a window. A belt-rail ran the length of the car, interupted only by the baggage door. The narrow baggage door extended about a third of the way up through the letter-board toward the eave line. The platform roof had the broken duckbill contour.

The photo clearly shows that the baggage compartment took up 5/13 of the car. The passenger compartment has eight windows, while the baggage compartment has two actual windows, the door equivalent to two windows, and the paneled end window.

Like all the early South Park cars, this car was probably either painted a deep brown (some say chocolate brown, but with a differing eye as to what constitutes chocolate) or it was stained a medium brown. Lettering was likely of gold leaf with stripes and trimming.

DL&G combine #701 at Morrison, 1891 (2) Left side of DL&G coach-baggage car #701 at Morrison 1891. It is lettered for the Union Pacific, but below the number seems to be the initials “D.L. & G.”. The window beside the stove has been replaced by a panel, but the windows in the baggage compartment are still functional. Littleton Historical Museum photo at Ferrell/SoPk-267(d).


This odd little car was built by the South Park’s Denver shops, probably in June of 1879. It appears to have been assembled from coach parts obtained from an eastern builder. But if it was, it exhibits no clear characteristics that would help identify who the builder was. At the time a number of builders offered cars in “knocked-down” form for assembly on site. A Jackson & Sharp advertisement from the 1879 Car Builders Dictionary, for instance, says “Special attention given to sectional work for exportation.”

At least one authority suggests #6 was built as a coach and “converted” to a combination coach-baggage car before 1885, which is the date of our first information on it, but such a suggestion fails to consider the changes in side-wall framing that such a conversion would require. It was far more likely “converted” at the time of assembly.

Some authorities believe #6 was built by the Union Pacific. This belief is based on the 1885 renumbering list that is the basis for Ehernberger/UP. But (1) Ehernberger admits to “correcting” the published list, which makes its “facts” suspect, (2) the C&S passenger car diagram page for #6 (by then C&S #23) lists the builder as the South Park, and (3) at the time the 1885 list was done, the South Park had been reduced to a division of the U.P. Besides, the 1885 list does not show the DSP&P as builder of any cars, and we know they at least assembled some (Coach #7 for instance).

Some authorities also believe #6 was built in 1880. This belief is based on the C&S passenger car diagram page for #6 (by then C&S #23). But (1) one must remember that the purpose of the diagrams was not primarily historical but mechanical, (2) we don’t know where the C&S engineering people got their information, and (3) we know some of that information is not accurate. Besides, experience has shown the South Park numbered cars in the sequence they acquired them, and we have good evidence Coach #7 was produced in September 1879, so #6 could not have come later than that.

By 1879 the South Park was on the move. The depression of 1874 was a thing of the past. Money was again available for railroad building. Track laying was in full swing. Excursion business to Morrison was good, but hauling freight was better. Jay Gould must have been enthusiastic, for he was buying as much South Park stock as he could get. It appeared the South Park would soon need substantially more than the five passenger cars it had. And coach-baggage #6 was the first of what would soon become a flood of passenger cars.

In 1885 the Union Pacific renumbered coach-baggage car #6 as #701, in keeping with its more sophisticated numbering system. And #701 it stayed when the railroad was reorganized as the Denver Leadville & Gunnison.

Coach-baggage #701 was at least resheathed by the mid-1890s, as shown by the photo below. The end window has been covered, not just filled-in, and the belt-rail now ends at the edge of the window closest to the end of the car. But it appears that no changes have been made to other windows or to the platform roofs. It would be interesting to see the baggage end of the car to see whether the windows there had been covered as we suspect they had.

DL&G #701 near Alpine, 1894 (3) Right side of DL&G #701 near Alpine, late 1890s. (Digerness says “1894,” Kindig says “late 1890s,” Speas says, “about 1898.” Sometime between 1891 and now the car had been rebuilt. The belt rail has been shortened and the lavatory window sheathed over. But nothing appears changed about the windows or the roof. Wish we could see the baggage end: to see whether the baggage compartment windows have also been sheathed over, as we suspect. H.H. Buckwalter photo at Digerness2-322 (a two-page spread), Ferrell/SoPk-153 and Speas-80. A second exposure of the same scene is at Helmers-157(d), Kindig-311(u), and online (Image CHS-B117 or CHS-B273 in the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection).

When the Colorado & Southern took it over in 1899, coach-baggage #701 was renumbered #123. And when the C&S renumbered in 1906, it was renumbered just plain #23. It was undoubtedly rebuilt at least once during these years, as the C&S passenger car diagram (1916) shows a much more conventional car with only seven windows on each side (the lavatory window, on one side, the stove corner window, on the other side, and the two baggage compartment windows on each side having been sheathed over). The baggage end platform was removed in 1911, and the car was rebuilt in 1915 by the C&S. It was in active service until 1923 when it was sold to Herr-Rubicon Supply Co.

C&S #23 in upper Chalk Creek Canyon about 1915 (4) C&S #23 in upper Chalk Creek Canyon about 1915. The arched windows have been replaced by square ones, and the windows in the baggage compartment sheathed over. Photo at Kindig-405.


08 April 2006

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