Passing Tall Timber Resort. Sporting his signature brown leather vest and black bowler hat, Engineer Dan Markoff takes his Eureka & Palisade Locomotive #4 north through the property of the Tall Timber Resort (MP 475.25) on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The Tall Timber Resort caters to adventurers who enjoy zip-lines and other tree-top soaring adventures and is accessible only by helicopter or the train. Our mission this day was photography, capturing this 1875-era Baldwin wood-burner in the beautiful wilderness of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
Speaking of timber....being a wood-burner, Eureka is a prolific consumer of that commodity. Although wood was the primary fuel for steam locomotives in the early days of railroading, there are very few wood-burners left among the operational steam engines to day. Wood has the advantage of being a renewable resource, and being less polluting than other fuels, but it comes with a lot of disadvantages as well. Among them are a low BTU value, when compared with oil or coal. Eureka goes through a tender full of fuel much faster than a coal burner of equivalent size. The wood also needs to be properly prepared and cared for before use or it can be next to useless. Wood is also the most difficult of the three major fuel types to load. Unlike coal or oil, there are no easy ways to rapidly load a tender with wood. To maximize the use of available space, it has to be stacked by hand. Take a look at some of my photos of Eureka, and you'll see gangs of men forming a "wood line" to load and stack wood. And lastly, a MAJOR concern with burning wood is the resulting sparks and the wildland fire risk they pose. For although Eureka sports a most impressive Radley-Hunter Spark Arrestor Stack, that stack only serves to reduce the volume of ejected embers. When Eureka is working hard, such as on the grade between Hermosa and Rockwood, CO, she puts on one heck of a spark show. Having watched it from the perspective (and safety) of the cupola of that caboose, I can only imagine what it would look like at night. Needless to say, in the early 2000s, when Eureka was an annual visitor at the DSNGRR, the railroad had a very capable fire patrol following this train....just in case.
When Eureka next visits Colorado, the plan is to run out of Antonito, on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Those who have been to Antonito, know that the line there is pretty much a wide-open desert, so the fire threat should be minimal.