Narrow Gauge Grandeur!

Written by: Gary Dolzall

Steam-era railroading in the Colorado Rockies is coming soon to Train Simulator – with the extraordinary Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route!

“The narrow gauge gets in the blood, and will not out.” So wrote the greatest of America’s railroad writers, the late David P. Morgan, long-time editor of Trains Magazine, nearly half-a-century ago. Truer words were seldom spoken, and the siren call of American steam-era narrow-gauge railroading in the Colorado Rockies is coming soon to Train Simulator!

A member of Dovetail Games’ Partner Programme, Milepost Simulations – creators of the acclaimed Canadian Mountain Passes and West Highland Line (South) routes – is now bringing the extraordinary magic of narrow gauge Front Range mountain railroading to Train Simulator with its “Clear Creek Narrow Gauge” route.

Set in the 1930s, this new Train Simulator route recreates the narrow gauge railroad that at the time was operated by the iconic Colorado & Southern Railway. Built in the 1870s and 1880s by the little Colorado Central Railroad under the sponsorship of the great Union Pacific, the narrow gauge railroad traced the path of Clear Creek and rugged, remote Clear Creek Canyon to climb the imposing Front Range of the Colorado Rockies and serve the region’s colorful mining towns.

Stretching 55 route miles in total, the Train Simulator Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route begins at Golden, Colorado, some 15 miles west of Denver and at an elevation of 5,675 feet, and then extends up the Clear Creek Canyon to Forks Creek. There, the narrow gauge railroad thrusts two diverging lines high into the Rockies, one following Clear Creek’s North Branch, the other following the stream’s South Branch. The northern line makes its way to the bustling little mining town of Black Hawk, then utilizes a series of daunting switchbacks to reach Central City at an elevation of 8,510 feet. The route’s other, longer line climbs, via Idaho Springs, to Georgetown, Colorado and thereafter employs the famous “Georgetown Loop” and towering Devil’s Gate High Bridge to reach Silver Plume, Colorado at an elevation of 9,101 feet above sea level.

Simply put, all the magic of Colorado railroading awaits on the Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route: Daunting yet majestic mountain topography; grades of up to 4 percent; switchbacks; remote but busy western mining towns that drew gold, silver, and other ores from the mountainsides and processed the precious ores in stamping plants and smelters; diminutive freight rolling stock to tote ore and coal and mining equipment; classic wooden passenger cars to carry local travelers and tourists who came to witness the “far famed” Georgetown Loop; enchanting mixed trains; and, of course, the special appeal of narrow gauge steam locomotives, which in the case of the Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route include both coal- and oil-burning editions of Colorado & Southern’s beguiling, Baldwin-built B4D-class 2-8-0s.

From the relatively “flatlands” and busy dual-gauge yard complex of Golden to Forks Creek tucked deep in the Clear Creek Canyon, to captivating mining towns named Idaho Spring, Black Hawk, and Central City, and to Georgetown and the remarkable final climb to Silver Plume – which from Georgetown required a 3.5 percent grade, one complete spiral, 300-foot-long, 96-foot-high Devil’s Gate High Bridge, and two reverse loops, all within roughly 3 miles of track – the upcoming Train Simulator Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route will most assuredly deliver all the captivating appeal, romance, and operating challenges of Colorado narrow gauge railroading that has held railroad enthusiasts and railroaders alike spellbound for generations.

In the coming weeks, Train-Simulator.com will be presenting a series of articles on the Clear Creek Narrow Gauge line’s origins and remarkable history, its freight and passenger operations, and its motive power. And we’ll also, of course, take a closer look at the upcoming Train Simulator route, all accompanied by advance screenshots. So stay tuned! – Gary Dolzall 

Colorado narrow gauge railroading is coming soon to Train Simulator with the 1930s-era Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route created by Milepost Simulations! With white flags flying, Colorado & Southern B4D-class 2-8-0 No. 66 (above) begins its journey west from Golden, Colorado as other C&S steam power congregates at the roundhouse and turntable. Golden was dual-gauge territory and the diminutive Baldwin 2-8-0 is rather dwarfed by some standard gauge freight equipment (below) in the Golden yard. All screenshots by Gary Dolzall.

Colorado narrow gauge railroading is coming soon to Train Simulator with the 1930s-era Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route created by Milepost Simulations! With white flags flying, Colorado & Southern B4D-class 2-8-0 No. 66 (above) begins its journey west from Golden, Colorado as other C&S steam power congregates at the roundhouse and turntable. Golden was dual-gauge territory and the diminutive Baldwin 2-8-0 is rather dwarfed by some standard gauge freight equipment (below) in the Golden yard. All screenshots by Gary Dolzall.

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Constructed by the Colorado Central Railroad in the 1870s and 1880s with support from Union Pacific, the Clear Creek narrow gauge became part of the Colorado & Southern in 1899. West from Golden, the line wound its way along the banks of Clear Creek and through the Clear Creek Canyon as it began an unforgiving ascent of the Rockies’ Front Range. West of Guy Gulch (above), Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 No. 63 has the railroad’s afternoon passenger run from Denver to Silver Plume in tow, and a short time later (below) the C&S Baldwin trundles beneath the canyon’s rugged rocky spires near Beaver Brook. Note: Screenshots may depict content still in development.

Constructed by the Colorado Central Railroad in the 1870s and 1880s with support from Union Pacific, the Clear Creek narrow gauge became part of the Colorado & Southern in 1899. West from Golden, the line wound its way along the banks of Clear Creek and through the Clear Creek Canyon as it began an unforgiving ascent of the Rockies’ Front Range. West of Guy Gulch (above), Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 No. 63 has the railroad’s afternoon passenger run from Denver to Silver Plume in tow, and a short time later (below) the C&S Baldwin trundles beneath the canyon’s rugged rocky spires near Beaver Brook. Note: Screenshots may depict content still in development.

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At Forks Creek, narrow gauge lines diverged to trace both the North and South Forks of Clear Creek westward. With heavy gondola loads of coal in the consist and grades of nearly 4 percent to conquer, a pair of C&S 2-8-0s have been assigned to lift a freight up the line to Black Hawk. Having taken water at Forks Creek (above) the duo of 2-8-0s resume their journey, with one of Colorado & Southern’s captivating four-wheel wooden cabooses (below) bringing up the markers.

At Forks Creek, narrow gauge lines diverged to trace both the North and South Forks of Clear Creek westward. With heavy gondola loads of coal in the consist and grades of nearly 4 percent to conquer, a pair of C&S 2-8-0s have been assigned to lift a freight up the line to Black Hawk. Having taken water at Forks Creek (above) the duo of 2-8-0s resume their journey, with one of Colorado & Southern’s captivating four-wheel wooden cabooses (below) bringing up the markers.

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Black Hawk, Colorado, elevation 8,032 feet above sea level, was a bustling little mining and ore processing town and a key destination for the builders of the Clear Creek narrow gauge. Dusk has come early at Black Hawk on a winter eve as the road’s mixed train, with a passenger coach tucked on the rear of its freight consist, pulls alongside the depot.

Black Hawk, Colorado, elevation 8,032 feet above sea level, was a bustling little mining and ore processing town and a key destination for the builders of the Clear Creek narrow gauge. Dusk has come early at Black Hawk on a winter eve as the road’s mixed train, with a passenger coach tucked on the rear of its freight consist, pulls alongside the depot.

To reach Central City, some 500 feet in elevation higher than Black Hawk, the Clear Creek Narrow Gauge employed a pair of switchbacks. Above Black Hawk, C&S 2-8-0 No. 64 is shoving its consist ever so carefully over a spindly wooden trestle (above), and then eases into the switchback (below) before running forward toward Central City. The Baldwin is equipped with a hefty plow to battle the snows of the Rockies, and is also equipped with the road’s distinctive Ridgeway spark arrestor system designed to catch hot cinders from the stack and reduce the risk of lineside fires.

To reach Central City, some 500 feet in elevation higher than Black Hawk, the Clear Creek Narrow Gauge employed a pair of switchbacks. Above Black Hawk, C&S 2-8-0 No. 64 is shoving its consist ever so carefully over a spindly wooden trestle (above), and then eases into the switchback (below) before running forward toward Central City. The Baldwin is equipped with a hefty plow to battle the snows of the Rockies, and is also equipped with the road’s distinctive Ridgeway spark arrestor system designed to catch hot cinders from the stack and reduce the risk of lineside fires.

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Colorado & Southern’s B4D class consisted of eight locomotives (C&S No. 63-70) built by Baldwin in 1890, originally for the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison. All were originally coal burners, but in 1931 C&S No. 70 was converted to an oil burner. At Idaho Springs, on the Clear Creek’s line to Georgetown, C&S No. 70 squeezes its way through the busy mining town (above) with a short freight, then stops to switch the Argo Mill. The Argo Tunnel, visible behind No. 70, was a massive combined drainage and ore mining tunnel opened in 1904.

Colorado & Southern’s B4D class consisted of eight locomotives (C&S No. 63-70) built by Baldwin in 1890, originally for the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison. All were originally coal burners, but in 1931 C&S No. 70 was converted to an oil burner. At Idaho Springs, on the Clear Creek’s line to Georgetown, C&S No. 70 squeezes its way through the busy mining town (above) with a short freight, then stops to switch the Argo Mill. The Argo Tunnel, visible behind No. 70, was a massive combined drainage and ore mining tunnel opened in 1904.

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Georgetown, Colorado, elevation 8,530 feet, was both a mining town and tourist gateway to Silver Plume and the marvels of the high Rockies. Headed toward Silver Plume, C&S No. 69 (above) has three wooden passenger cars in tow as it climbs above Georgetown and toward the famous Georgetown Loop. Moments later, the diminutive 2-8-0 rolls under the Loop’s signature Devil’s Gate High Bridge over which it will soon soar. All the grandeur, drama, and challenges of Colorado steam-era narrow gauge railroading is coming soon to Train Simulator – with Milepost Simulation’s Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route!

Georgetown, Colorado, elevation 8,530 feet, was both a mining town and tourist gateway to Silver Plume and the marvels of the high Rockies. Headed toward Silver Plume, C&S No. 69 (above) has three wooden passenger cars in tow as it climbs above Georgetown and toward the famous Georgetown Loop. Moments later, the diminutive 2-8-0 rolls under the Loop’s signature Devil’s Gate High Bridge over which it will soon soar. All the grandeur, drama, and challenges of Colorado steam-era narrow gauge railroading is coming soon to Train Simulator – with Milepost Simulation’s Clear Creek Narrow Gauge route!

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Profile photo of Gary Dolzall

Gary Dolzall

19 Comments

  • Profile photo of LastTrainToClarksville

    Looks like this venture will bring not just narrow gauge railroading to TS2016, but also a lot of new rolling stock. I hope that the route offers good switching opportunities, but how could it not with all of those freight cars?

  • Profile photo of Hunter

    As I am from the Colorado foothills and pass by most of these places often it will be great to see this area modeled and I can’t wait to see these iconic landmarks in Train Sim

  • Profile photo of leadcatcher

    Dang – just as I was trying to swear off of DLCs – This had to be scheduled for release — so much for resolutions

  • Profile photo of R.C. de Visser - Rotterdam - The Netherlands

    Love to see this narrow gauge route coming. What surprised me i a very positive way is the combined 3-rail regular and narrow-gauge tracks at some stations on this route. Lovely to see and as steam enthousiast very well appreciated. This route will be part of my colecion the moment the roiute is released.

  • Profile photo of Benton Ferron

    Nice to add Narrow Gauge to sim! 🙂

  • Profile photo of DatPikaYT

    Mmmm… Something awesome!

  • Profile photo of rarecommonsense

    I’m surprised there isn’t more attention on this article. Especially from the likes of nec_male_tc.

  • Profile photo of Frisco1522

    Nice to see another route venturing into a whole new world a railroading: Narrow Gauge! I think i’ve seen a C&S caboose once in my life, so this’ll be a nice add-on to TS.

  • Profile photo of Meepler

    Having been to Georgetown, Central City, and Silver Plume, I’m really excited for this route. I went on the Durango & Silverton last year and this summer I plan to ride the Georgetown Loop and the narrow gauge rr in Chama, NM.

  • Profile photo of train611

    Looks Great! Will the Durango and Silverton be available soon?

  • Profile photo of agsieg

    Not to be a buzzkill, this does look amazing, but Colorado & Southern is a BNSF licence. Will this be available to those living outside the US?

    • Profile photo of TrainSim-Steve

      Yes it will be available to all but, as instructed by BNSF, will not include the appropriate branding outside of North America.

  • Profile photo of LatviaBoy1999

    YES YES YES YES YES YES!!! This better not be an April Fools joke, people have waited years for this!!

  • Profile photo of Plumas Railblazer

    Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap holy crap!!! Another one I’ve been waiting for!

  • Profile photo of Joshua Harkness

    Yes!!! Finally, a narrow gauge steam-era route for Train Simulator apart from the Durango and Silverton! I don’t know what I’m more excited for, a steam-era narrow gauge mountain route featuring switchbacks or the equipment that will come with it, hopefully both turn out good and with Milepost Simulations as the developer we can trust that the route will be of high quality like Canadian Mountains Passes and West Highland Line (South) were. Also to add, this is a very good and informative article Gary, I’m looking forward to more of your wonderful articles and scenarios.

  • Profile photo of SFC (Sagefuncom)

    3 words. THIS LOOKS AMAZING.

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