NEW NEW *** Knights of the Narrow Gauge *** NEW NEW

20 Aug

Congratulations to DB Dakota on his new release from GSP, Knights of the Narrow Gauge.



Knights of the Narrow Gauge is an account of each and every narrow gauge railroad that came and went from 1870 on in Colorado and surrounds. Twenty-one railroad lines, total. Meticulous, colorful, it’s about the innovative men who dreamed and built the impossible network. It acquaints us with the stouthearted Irish who operated the baby systems. It’s a one-source narrative, light, layman, non-academic narrative for train enthusiasts, who are plentiful and perennial. Racing across the plains, notching into mountainsides, the iron fingers of narrow gauge railroads flexed and slithered over alpine passes or poked holes through them and squeezed through the canyons of Colorado. Tough steel replaced rusting iron. The tracks of numerous three-foot wide railroads groped their way to new boomtowns in the Rockies. Freight trains and passenger trains, led by little iron ponies with peanut whistles, beckoned the pioneers to live beside them along the rivers and creeks.


While goin’ the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo,
                                While goin’ the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo,
                                        A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye,
                                                 A doleful damsel I heard cry,
                                                   Johnny, I hardly knew ye

Ah, ’twas a while short that we knew ye, in ’n out, ’n up ’n gone, ye were, but we loved ye, Johnny, we loved ye then and we love ye still, ye knight on the horse of burly iron. So sing ye of the waves and waves of Irish stouthearts of yore who birthed the roads and roads of ballast and tie to spike in place the rail that gold rode on. Gold and silver and lumber strong and coal and grain and men with coin and time to kill. Lordy, those were the days. Those were the places where never to be found was ever a man of cowardly pace. Colorado, the new thing out West, was nothing but itchy for something to haul stuff in. And people brave to step aboard the creature some called a train. But it was so little, so narrow and short with no room for heads, and smoked and stank and scared the cows. Hurroo, hurroo, for the times of yore when waves and waves of Micks with luck in their veins raced across the plains, notched into mountainsides where they would hang the iron fingers of their narrow gauge railroads.

They flexed and slithered, those rails of iron, over alpine passes and through holes below peaks of historical height, and plunged and squeezed through the canyons narrow, no room for rails and angry waters, too, so floods at night would wash them away. Something had to give, and did. Tough steel replaced rusting iron, not because of weather, but economics.

The tracks of numerous three-foot wide railroads groped their way to new boomtowns in the Rockies. Freight trains and passenger trains, led by little iron ponies with peanut whistles, beckoned the pioneers to live beside them along the rivers and creeks. They displaced wagon trains and pack animals that, for the while, served well, but nothing to write home about. Those slo-mo forerunners couldn’t keep up, could not be depended upon to haul the ever increasing yield of resources. They roller-coasted a state’s riches to the smelters and helped add a new star to Old Glory. Little is left of a picturesque past with the excitement, danger, legend and romance chronicled by these far-reaching fingers of steel.

No more than an echo away from one point in the Rockies, civilization could behold itself before and beyond all written history. A panoramic worldly pageant converges in Colorado. The resultant mysteries of our predecessors, man’s attempts to be sociable, the wonders of mechanization; these manifestations are all encompassed within the San Juan Basin. Know where that is? Heard of Purgatory Ski and Telluride Ski and Ouray Hot Springs and that one and only leftover train that you can ride all day, just about, and get cinders in your eyes? More later on Durango’s Train to Yesterday. Know about Camp Bird mine and the Anasazi Ruins? That region of absolute splendor. Well, the unveiling, passing parade, then, would mark time as the retrospective calendar comes to the year 1870.

Gold discovered!

Newspapers, months old by the time they arrived from Denver, told of an infant railroad being planned for the West, to crowd out the wagons hauling away newly-found wealth. Little did they know it would be a dozen years before the iron horse would come snorting into the San Juans.

Up to that time, the early settlers figured they had the best they could hope for . . . stages, coaches on wheels, those movie-set stages, for mail and passengers, and creeping, high-priced ore carts to drag the minerals out; nuggets headed for resurrection in white-hot fusion at the smelters.

To lay crossties and rails on long, roundabout routes in the remote, rugged areas would be expensive construction. To operate trains over these tracks would be even more expensive. To get fuel for locomotives, new coalfields would have to be tapped. Ties would have to be hand-hewn at tie-camp villages in the forests. Roadbeds would have to be gouged out in cliffs, some of them a thousand feet high. Canyons had to be spanned by trestles, those neck-craning structures made out of toothpicks, straddling gorges. Everything to support a railroad would have to be put in place and tunnels had to be cut through granite peaks.

About the author:

The author’s first love was the lady in Sir Walter Scott’s opus; a chapbook about her merited an A+ in English. Music manuscripts submitted to a publisher were passed over, but motivated him to compose the class song for graduation.

Twenty years of railroading, military service and broadcasting followed. He dashed off shoestring commercials for budget television clients, scripted industrials, and TV shows about the gold rush and railroading, then got out Land of Legend, a history book.

Readers Digest rejected his true story about the passenger train wreck he almost caused as signal operator by pushing the wrong button. The account is a sidetracked cliffhanger. Liability for lives, he balked at it, at the burden, and quit railroading. His license to operate radio stations turned into television directing. Sitting there in the dark he’d watch a zillion things at once and talk fast—no wrong buttons.

Fleeing video for the corporate client universe, he tagged credits to film documentaries about atomic bomb production and security with a Q-clearance; ski patrol safety; broadcasting; mental health rehab; the Air Force Academy; and shoots for national clients.

Career change: Ad agency copywriter, graphic artist; award winning spots, jingles, sightseeing Denver in a Day history guidebook, tech monographs. Next, an art gallery, a challenging enterprise for a restless creative to unveil the worlds of detectives, miners and pre-historics. His attic is stuffed with unpublished novel and short story manuscripts.



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