Passenger Cars of the South Park

Baggage Cars #40, #41 and #45


U.P. 1885 DL&G 1889 C&S 1899 C&S 1906
#40 #1000 #1000 #102 #1
#41 #1001 #1001 #103 Gone
#45 #1002 #1002 #104 #2

Baggage #40, #41 or #45 on Arkansas River bridge

(1) Baggage #40 or #41 on the Arkansas River bridge near Buena Vista with an unidentified Pullman Palace sleeping car in the early 1880s. (Too many clerestory windows to be #45.) Which door is the emergency exit? Charles Weitfle photo at Digerness1-227, Ferrell/SoPk-51 and Poor-178(d)(ME).


Since baggage cars #40 and #41 were both built by the South Park car shops, were the same length, and were turned out about the same time—and there is a notable lack of identifiable photographs—it is commonly assumed they looked alike. Since baggage car #45 was turned out by the South Park shops within a year after #40 and #41, was the same length, and in its final form of C&S baggage #2 closely resembles C&S #1 which was built as DSP&P #40, it is assumed the three were look-alikes. Always remember: this is an educated guess.

Baggage cars #40, #41 and #45 were downright weird by any standard. They had two relatively narrow baggage doors, each centered on ½ of the car, and each having what appears to be a double pane window on either side of it. But then there was a third door at the center of the car with a very high threshold. All three doors had square tops, and penetrated only part way through the relatively narrow letterboard.

At least one authority speculates the narrow door in the middle—the one with the raised threshold—was for catching mail on-the-fly, but another says, I cant imagine where they would have flown through! It appears to us to have been designed purely as an opening through which a trainman might hand out or receive objects light enough to be lifted, without fear of falling out himself. Actually, doors like this were not unusual in cars of the time that carried mail, even when not equipped with a mail catcher. The illustration below is from the 1888 Car-Builders’ Dictionary.

Baggage Car from 1879 Car Builders Dictionary

Baggage cars #40, #41 and #45  had end platforms at both ends and the platform roofs were of the broken duckbill profile with the flat eave line that goes with it. They appear not to have had board-and-batten siding per se, but some sort of decorative batten or strip that came down from the corner of each window, and of the center door. They also had much more prominent smokejacks that most cars.

Baggage #40 or #41 on the Arkansas River bridge

(2) Baggage #40 or #41 on the Arkansas River bridge near Buena Vista, early 1880s. Charles Weitfle photo at Kindig-40, Ferrell/SoPk-50 and online at The Narrow Gauge Circle, Ted Kierscey Collection Image 00237.


Baggage cars #40 and #41 were built by the South Parks Denver shops in 1879, probably from parts manufactured by one of the eastern car builders. During 1879 the end-of-track had advanced steadily. On January 17, end-of-track was at Halls Valleysoon to be renamed Webster70 miles from Denver. By the end of the year end-of-track had crossed the South Park and was 3.8 miles short of the summit of Trout Creek Pass, 166 miles from Denver, on its way to Gunnison. And business had grown just as steadily as had trackage.

At the beginning of the year the South Park had just five passenger cars: three coaches and two combination coach-baggage cars. During the year, as end-of-track advanced, the Denver shops built an additional coachcoach #6—the two baggage cars—#40 and #41—and finally, in September, a full-fledged baggage-mail-express car, #42.

Just one month later an agreement was signed that would allow the South Park to access the booming town of Leadville from Buena Vista using the tracks the Denver & Rio Grande would soon be building from there. The South Park would soon be needing a lot of passenger equipment!

In the next ten months the South Park added 22 more passenger cars to its fleet, two of which were baggage-mail-express cars #43 and #44, and another of which was baggage car #45, built by the Denver shops according to the same plan, or using parts from the same builder, as baggage cars #40 and #41.

In 1885, the Union Pacific renumbered #40, #41 and #45 to #1000, #1001 and #1002, numbers they retained until 1898 under the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison. Sometime during this period the cars were rebuilt, having their side windows sheathed over, and their roofs redone with platform roofs of the bullnose profile.

Denver, Leadville & Gunnison baggage car #1000

(3) Denver, Leadville & Gunnison baggage car #1000 at Morrison 14 June 1892. The sides were probably not as streaky as they look. The sun is directly overhead -- see the shadow of the letterboard, which is probably not over an inch thick. Photo at Ferrell/SoPk-269(m) and Poor-149(u)(ME). Photo courtesy of Littleton Historical Society at Wagner-328.

When taken over by the Colorado & Southern in 1899, DL&G #1000, #1001 and #1002 became C&S #102, #103 and #104.

Baggage car #103 was destroyed at South Park Junction in June 1902, after being wrecked in a head-on collision between the Fish Train and westbound train #71.

When the C&S renumbered in 1906, #102 became baggage car #1. It was rebuilt in 1915 and the end platforms removed. It was dismantled in May 1939.


08 April 2006

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