Passenger Cars of the South Park

Coach-Baggage #23 & #25

“Bowers-Dure” Combines


U.P. 1885 DL&G 1889 C&S 1899 C&S 1906
#23 #703 #703 #125 #25
#25 #704 #704 #126 #24

DSP&P Combine #23 at Bakers Tank 1884 (1) Coach-baggage #23 at Bakers Tank, on the east side of Boreas Pass, 1884. (Click pic to see entire scene.) W.H. Jackson photo at Digerness2-112, Kindig-38(u) and online at The Narrow Gauge Circle, Ted Kierscey Collection Image 00217.


Weve lumped these two coach-baggage cars together because they came from the same builder—Bowers, Dure & Company—and, so far as we know, were identical (see HISTORY, below). They appear in a good number of photos, but generally cant be individually identified. They are readily identified as to builder by their distinctive platform roofs and small windows.

When they were received, these combination cars were short (35'-0") had end platforms at both ends, rather small, arched, single-pane windows set low and opening upward, a wide letterboard, possibly painted white with dark lettering like the Bowers-Dure coaches (although no photos exist showing this), and a hooded platform roof. The baggage door was fairly narrow, had rounded upper corners, and did not extent all the way through the letterboard to the eave line.

In short (and that wasn't intended as a pun), they looked just like the Bowers-Dure coaches, but with the 4th and 5th (or 9th and 10th, if you prefer) windows converted to a baggage door. If later photos are any indication, the passenger compartment was larger than the baggage area, comprising eight of the 13 window positions.

DSP&P coach-baggage #23 at Boreas Pass, 1884

(2) DSP&P coach-baggage #23 at Boreas Pass, 1884. This is from an Everett E. Van Epps photo, taken at Rocky Point on the west side of Boreas pass, and could be the same train. It is on the same line, going in the same direction, has the same consist, is by a different photographer and has a similar Bowers-Dure combine bringing up the rear. The caption on the photo identifies the car as "combination car, DSP&P #20," which is patently wrong, as #20 was not only a coach, but by a different builder. It can be found at Kindig-37(l).


The Atcheson, 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, 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 ATSF in order to prevent foreclosure. The ATSF then offered to finance the South Park's line into Leadville, but was rebuffed. The following August (1879), the Rio Grand lease was nullified and a Receiver appointed.

The ATSF 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 the ATSF by the obscure Delaware firm of Bowers, Dure & Company. (3)  They had been delivered to the ATSF 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 converted to combination baggage-coaches by the addition of a baggage door, probably about 1884, as they were counted as “first class coaches” in the Union Pacific Annual Report for 1884.

Coach-baggage cars #23 and #25 were renumbered #703 and #704 by the Union Pacific in 1885 since they were 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. Heres what they looked like by the mid-1880s:

DL&G #703 or #704 on the Keystone branch, ca. 1887 (3) DL&G #703 or #704 on the Keystone branch, ca. 1887. The photo is attributed to C.C. Rogers by Digerness and to Otto Westerman by Poor. It was taken on the Keystone branch in the late 1880s. It can be found at Digerness2-193(u), Ferrell/SoPk-281 and Poor-308(ME).


The Denver, Leadville & Gunnison apparently kept the same numbers, and in 1899 when the Colorado & Southern took over, coach-baggage #703 became C&S #125 and #704 became #126. But during their ownership by the DL&G the two had had their roofs replaced and lost their distinctive hooded platform roofs to the more modern bullnose profile. (Below)

DL&G #703 or #704 at Atlantic, 1896

(4) DL&G #703 or #704 at Atlantic, 30 April 1896. Dr. H.D. Newton photo at Chappell-78(u), Digerness2-320(d), Ferrell/SoPk-123, Helmers-157(u), Kindig-396(d) and Wagner-14.

Coach-baggage #125 was destroyed by fire at Pitkin 11 September 1904. But it was rebuilt by the C&S shops and came out two months later 5' longer than it went in! (This story is very curious. To lengthen a passenger car would require not only giving it a whole new frame, but completely new sides, as the sides contained supporting trusswork. It rather sounds as if a new car was built using parts salvaged from #125: something well within the capabilities of of the DSP&P's Denver shops.)

In 1906, when the C&S renumbered, coach-baggage #125 became #25, but for some reason coach-baggage #126 became #24. It was destroyed near Nathrop 9 February 1910. It appears that a start was made at replacing #24 later that year, but nothing came of it.

Coach-baggage #25 was rebuilt again in 1915 and operated for nine more years. In February 1924 it was sold to Herr-Rubicon Supply Co.


08 October 2007

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