The Siding Of
|West to Crescent|
The Siding Gallery, by design, does not show any trains (unless it is unavoidable) in pictures of the sidings. This is so you can see the layout of the land and get your own ideas on how to take pictures of trains. However, if you'd like to see pictures taken from various spots at this siding, then you can Search the Photo Gallery for pictures here on ColoradoRailfan.com!
The Siding of Plain marks the beginning of the Tunnel District. When headingwestbound, Plain is the last siding that trains will see until Crescent, which means passingthrough 16 tunnels along the Front Range and up through South Boulder Canyon above thesmall town of Eldorado Springs. Those 16 tunnels come in only six miles! Plain is short forPlainview, which is a very appropriate name as you can see in the following pictures.
Plain is easily accessible via a dirt road off of Colorado Highway 72. From the intersectionof CO Hwy 93 and CO Hwy 72 (near Plain), proceed west on Hwy 72 toward the mountains. Shortlybefore reaching the throat of the canyon, there will be an opportunity to turn left or right.Turning left takes you to the Blue Mountain road crossing, another popular spot for photographersand railfans. Turning right takes you up the dirt road to Plain. There are few places to park atPlain without trespassing (which you should NEVER do), but you can sit in your car near the trackswithout trespassing and enjoy the view and the action. Many people park down the road aways and hike up to the tracks. The grade crossing at Plain falls closer to the east than thewest end. The east end of the siding can be viewed from the crossing.
Here is the topographical representation of the area of Plain. As you can see, Plainruns nearly (geographic) north-south, not east-west. This begins the section of track wheretrains run along the Front Range (notice the east end of tunnel two at the top of the map)before running through the curved tunnel eight, which sends the tracks west into the RockyMountains.
When entering the east end of Plain heading west, one can clearly see the grade changeat the siding. The tracks disappear over a slight grade in a cut in this picture. Justbeyond the cut is the grade crossing and the house track. Beyond that, on the samestraight away is Rainbow Cut and a wonderful S-curve.
It is here at the east end of Plain where the last feeling of the openplains exists. From Rainbow Cut and on west, you are isolated in the middle of the RockyMountains. Not good if you are claustrophobic!
So just where does Plain (short for Plainview) get its name? I suspect that thispicture is probably worth a thousand words of explanation! Notice the clouds of a temperate, lazy, March afternoon hanging out over the plains. Notice the lake near themiddle of the picture, close to the horizon. This lake is Stanley Lake, located inArvada and Westminster. You may have to zoom in, but along the left side of the picture,again near the horizon, you might notice an industry with a white water tower. This isRocky Flats!
Here is a great picture of the signals protecting the east switch at Plain. Thepicture is looking track east, toward tunnel one. The mountain seen over the hillin the background is Blue Mountain. Notice the height difference between the signalon the main and the dwarf of the siding. The dwarf signal lives up to its name hereas it sits right on the ground!
Like the two sidings before it, Plain too has a house track. While Leydenis often used for temporary storage of cars, the house track at Plain frequently hasMaintenance of Way equipment tied down on it. There are also several green maintenancesheds that house miscellaneous equipment. Alongside the house track, all sorts ofheavy equipment including rails and ties can often be seen.
The east switch of the house track is just east of the grade crossing. When enteringthe house track, it hits a depression to try to keep any rolling stock that might be tiedon the house track to stay there! The three green maintenance sheds can be seen in thispicture.
Anybody looking to model the equipment sheds? Here they are! In the days of the RioGrande, "speeders" were stored in the sheds and tracks came out of the sheds and intersectedwith the main and siding at 90 degree angles. The speeders could be dragged out of thesheds and rotated on to the appropriate track. Today, highrailers have replaced thespeeders...one such highrailer can be seen sticking out from behind the maintenance shedsto the right.
Continuing west through the siding, there is another brief period where theopen plains can be clearly seen. Then, the infamous Rainbow Cut is hit! Like Plainview,Rainbow Cut has a very justifiable name. When the cut was created those many years ago,the inside of the rock was discovered to have several different types of rock within it.I don't claim to be a geologist, so I don't know the types, but the color variations givethe cut the look of a rainbow!
Here is a second look at the view of the plains from Plainview. The track in theforeground in the mainline. Stanley Lake is again visible, this time on the left sideof the picture. Downtown Denver is very hard to make out in this picture, but notimpossible. If you zoom in on the center of the picture, downtown is just off to theright of the center.
Rainbow Cut! This is the east end of the cut, looking east. The siding is thetrack on the left, the main on the right. If you were to follow out the remainder of thiscurve, you would be on the straight away heading for the grade crossing.
Why is it called Rainbow Cut? This is exactly why! Everyone has a differentperception of colors, but my eyes can see red, orange, yellow, blue and purple just inthis one picture. This is the cut on the (track-wise) south side of the tracks...
...and here is the cut on the (track-wise) north side of the tracks.
As one might expect, one of the largest potential danger of mountain railroadingcan be rocks on the tracks! In the high-danger areas of the Moffat, the tracks are nowprotected by slide-detector fences. If a rock breaks a wire on the fence, signals areautomatically set to red, protecting the potential danger, and the dispatcher is immediatelynotified. Here, a few rocks -- not large enough to be any threat -- lie on the groundalongside the mainline.
So one might wonder what the view from on top of Rainbow Cut looks like!From atop the cut, you can see down the straight away of the tracks toward the east endof the siding, or you can look to the west end of the siding and see tunnels 2 through4. There is also no better place for viewing the S-curve that snakes through the cut!
It is getting to be late in the afternoon on this Friday in February, but there isstill enough sunlight to produce some nice shadows. This picture is looking track-wiseeast, although it is really closer to geographic south. The house track can be seenleaving the siding, and MOW equipment can be seen tied down on it.
Here is the S-curve mentioned before. Unfortunately, there are many trees in thearea that are tall enough to effect, at least to some extent, almost any picture! Regardless,this picture is taken looking the opposite direction from Picture 12 above. The mainlineis on the left, and runs through a greaser on the (short) straight portion of the S-curve.
What a wonderful place from which to get a glance at the beginning of the tunneldistrict! Notice the white box toward the left of the picture. This is the control boxat the west end of Plain. Just right of the control box is the mouth to the east end of tunnel two. Following a line that is not quite horizontal from tunnel two, you can makeout the east portals to tunnel three and tunnel four.
We now start to head for the west end of Plain. The west end of the sidinggives the impression of being hidden away in the mountains much more than the east endof the siding does. Union Pacific appears to be in the process of replacing the communicationmethods along the Moffat Road. Southern Pacific added fiber optics to the line during the1990s, but it appears that Union Pacific may be moving to microwave. Radio towers aregoing up at many sidings and new signals are being installed!
There is a section of Plain that is well-concealed by trees and hills, towards thewest end. This picture shows that section of track. The picture is looking track-wiseeast. The tracks curve off to the left, which marks the beginning of the S-curve thatis seen so well from atop Rainbow Cut.
Here is the west end of the siding. After the concealed straight away seen in picture 15above, the tracks go around a relatively gentle curve to the right before the sidingconverges back in with the mainline. The signal for the mainline has rustedquite a bit and blends well with the red rock, but can be seen towards the leftof the picture. The dwarf, on the other had, is well contrasted with the bluesky at the right of the picture.
As mentioned before, Union Pacific is replacing some of the older Rio Grande signalswith newer signals. The west end of Plain is a prime example of this. Here, the newsignal stand for the dwarf can be seen just behind the existing dwarf. A big questionis what kind of signal will this mean? Single searchlight or three searchlight?
To facilitate the new signals and the new radio tower, a newer, slightly largercontrol box is being put in at the west end of Plain. One thing of interest is that thereis now a Control Point at the west end of the siding. The Control Point can be seen onthe new box as "CP RG025 PLAIN". The RG must stand for Rio Grande, which is a good thing!!The 025 represents the milepost...25 miles from Denver.
Finally, to wrap up this tour of Plain, is the signal at the west end of the siding,looking east. The pole at the left of the picture which leaves the view of the camera atthe top is the new radio tower. To the right of that is the new signal tower, withoutany searchlights added yet.
Date Added: 3/16/2001
Subdivision.. Moffat Tunnel
Length....... 6,530 feet
AAR.......... 23 (160.455)
House Track.. Yes -- Approx 1,500 feet
Grade Xing... One public crossing (Plainview Road)
Access Road.. Yes, Full Length (Private Property, Railroad Use Only)
Westbound......... Always On
Eastbound Main.... Approach Lit
Eastbound Siding.. Approach Lit
Eastbound......... Always On
Westbound Main.... Always On
Westbound Siding.. Always On
Last Data Update:
Last Picture Update:
Date Added: 3/16/2001
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