COBWEB CORNERS: Missing trains
By Mel McFarland
A long time ago I mentioned at least one missing train. No. not a big train, but one in a yard. The first one I know of that cannot be found was built in the Colorado Midland shops, by the apprentice shop workers. It showed up now and then in parades. In my book on the Midland, I have a picture that sort of shows the train. It was an almost exact miniature of a Midland engine, all together about 10 to 12 feet long. I have read stories about this engine in the old newspapers. I've been told it sat by a garage behind a house in Colorado City. Another story was that it went to an amusement park back East.
There was another train, this one in Red Rock Canyon. I recently learned a lot more about it and will share that with you today. The train was built 90 years ago by James A. Wood. He built the engine, at least one coach and 900 feet of track. Working over a period of six months, he converted a steam boiler from a steam car into a locomotive boiler. All of the other parts were fashioned in a foundry he built in his back yard. The engine and tender were large enough for him to sit in the tender, or coal car, barely seeing over the cab of the engine. It would be called a 4-2-0 under regular locomotive designations, but could reach an honest 30-miles- per-hour speed.
The train mainly ran on wooden track with a few pieces of iron. The rails barely held the engine, which weighed over a ton, and they failed at least once. The engine and car tumbled down a roughly four-foot embankment. No one was hurt, but it took several hours of hard work to get the train back on the rails. Wood even had a turntable to operate in either direction. In the summer of 1918, the little train operated on the weekends, entertaining locals as well as a few passing tourists.
Here is one of the mysteries I wonder about. The elder John Bock later bought the Red Rock area. There is a story about a little steam engine that was run into a lake on the Red Rock property by one of the young Bocks. Did it really happen? Could Wood's train have been it? At this point I can only wonder. So far the city's work on Red Rock Canyon Open Space has not turned up anything like it.