Passenger Cars of the South Park

The Mystery Cars

Where did they come from? DL&G 1889 Where did they go?
Did they in fact ever exist?

In 1885, when the Union Pacific applied a uniform numbering system to its cars and the cars of all its subsidiaries, the six combination coach-baggage cars of the Denver South Park & Pacific were assigned numbers starting with #700. A gap was left, and the two combination coach-baggage cars of the  Colorado Central were assigned numbers starting with #735. We know this because we have a list the U.P. published for the use of its employees.

In 1889, when the DSP&P became the Denver Leadville & Gunnison, the U.P. numbers were apparently retained. We base this statement on experience, as there is no documentary evidence. [No? Then where did Pitchard get his numbers?]

In 1892/93, when the DL&G converted its coaches #57 and #58 (former DSP&P coaches #9 and #10) to combination coach-baggage cars, it assigned them #707 and #708. Why did it skip #706 and #707? It was almost certainly because it already had two cars with those numbers.

In 1899, the Colorado & Southern assigned new numbers all around, according to its own scheme of things, and in 1906 it renumbered everything again. We have records of this renumbering, so anything that survived to 1906 can be accounted for. If DL&G #706 and #707 survived to 1906, we could probably place them. But apparently they did not.

Since the above may be hard to follow, here’s a picture:

Original U.P. 1885 DL&G 1889 1892/93 C&S 1899 1906
DSP #1 700 700 700 122 22
DSP #6 701 701 701 123 23
DSP #8 702 702 702 124 27
DSP #23 703 703 703 125 25
DSP #25 704 704 704 126 24
DSP #27 705 705 705 127 26
  Not there ? 706 ? Gone
  Not there ? 707 ? Gone
DSP #9 57 57 Converted to combine #708 128 29
DSP #10 58 58 Converted to combine #709 Gone Gone
CC #5 735 735 735 120 21
CC #6 736 736 735 121 20

These cars may have come from another U.P. subsidiary, but we are unaware of any such coming before the mid to late 1890s when the U&N and OSL were changing to standard gauge.

To add to the mystery, we present the following photo of a combination coach-baggage car on the Denver Leadville & Gunnison during the 1890s that we cannot match with any known car on the DL&G, or the UPD&G for that matter.

Mystery combine with friend

This photo was taken in the 1890s according to all the captions, on the Princeton Wye at the mouth of Chalk Creek Canyon on the Denver Leadville & Gunnison Railroad. We have positively identified the coach as DL&G coach #56. The combination coach-baggage car is the mystery car. Below is a close-up of the mystery car. The photo can be found at Chappell-78, Ferrell/SoPk-71, Kindig-303 and Speas-65.

Mystery car by itself

This “mystery” coach-baggage car has 7 decidedly square double pane windows with wide window posts. The windows have a belt-rail beneath and a moderately-wide letterboard above, with drooping platform eaves. The clerestory windows are paired, not matching the windows. The square-topped baggage door extends about half-way through the letterboard and it is spaced more-or-less in the center of the baggage compartment. The stoves appear to be in opposite corners of the car, and the stovepipe we can see is not of a typical type. The color appears to be either white or light yellow. It sure glares in the sunlight! (Coach #56 is almost certainly “Pullman” green.

Was this coach-baggage car one of the two “mystery cars?” Or was it something from off-line brought in for this particular excursion? Would like to hear what YOU think! Send us an e-mail.

Seven window coach-baggage cars

Car DSP #1 DSP#23 DSP #25
Large windows Y N N
Square windows N N N
Wide window posts Y Y Y
Belt-rail Y Y Y
Moderately wide letter-board Y N N
Paired clerestory windows N Y? Y?
Square-top baggage door Y N N
Bag door partially thru letter-board N Y Y
Centered bag door Y Y Y
Length 7/8 of 40'-4" #56 (35') 34'-9" 35'-0" 35'-0"


13 April 2006

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