Volume 2, Issue 2 - April 1999
1914 Annual Report
Rio Grande Southern Railroad Company
Recollections of the Narrow Gauge
- Bill White-
Special thanks to Will Cheshire and Warren Cotts for information and help with this issue.
Again for this issue two different subjects are presented. First is a copy of the 1914 Annual Report for the RGS. It is presented here in total using the PDF format that allows the publication to be viewed or printed as hard copy. There are also some comments on the report by Will Cheshire. Will is the controller of a charter bus company, and as an accountant who works in the transportation business is uniquely qualified to give us some insights into the railroad's financial health or lack thereof. I think you will find his comments interesting. The second item is a letter sent to me by Warren Cotts recounting his experiences on the Silverton Branch as a boy in the 1940's. While this isn't RGS, it still gives the flavor of what it was like to ride the trains in the last decade of the Southern's existence.
1914 Annual Report of the Rio Grande Southern
The report is presented here in the PDF file format. PDF stands for "Portable Document Format" and it is read by software called Adobe Acrobat. This format is uniquely suited to this type of presentation because it will display and print the report page by page just like the original. My suggestion for this is to open the file (it will take awhile) and then print a hard copy. What you will have in your hand will be virtual a photocopy of the real report. It will be somewhat smaller (the real report is about 9 by 11.5 inches) and the paper will be different, but the information on each page will be the same. When you are done with the Annual Report, use the "back" button on your browser to return to this page.
Those of you with newer web browsers will probably be able to open the Annual Rerort without any problems. If you are unable to open it, please go to the Adobe Web Site and download the Adobe Acrobat Reader. It is free and loading it will allow you to receive the Annual Report file plus any other PDF files you may run across on the web.
Will's comments are contained in a normal and separate HTML file. If you are a numbers cruncher and you have some thoughts on the report after reading it please pass them along. The report is a unique and somewhat clinical look at the railroad and gives some interesting insights to its operation, especially if you are able to read between the lines a little.
Recollections of the Narrow Gauge
Warren Cotts grew up in Durango during the 1940's. In his letter to me he recounts what it was like to ride the narrow gauge to Silverton. I know this isn't the RGS, but I think it is interesting and fun to read. So much of what we know about the RGS comes from black and white photos and written histories published in books. Despite our efforts, we loose so much of the color and flavor of the railroad. It becomes so much less than what it really was. Like a pale shadow. If you read Warren's letter and then close your eyes, it isn't so hard to imagine the worn musty velvet of the seats or the damp acidic smell of coal smoke. You can picture yourself sitting in a virtually empty car, while your few fellow travelers who aren't train buffs and are probably bored and wishing the trip would get over with sooner rather than later.
It's so different from the crowded camera-toting crowds that we are used to today. Perhaps the best way to experience what it was like to ride the Silverton Mixed, or an RGS goose in the forties, would be to go ride a Greyhound Bus foraday. The sights and sounds would be different, but the feel would probably be very similar.
If you have similar memories of the narrow gauge, even if they aren't from the RGS, please think about sharing them. You perhaps don't realize how much those of us who have no firsthand knowledge of the narrow gauge, envy those of you who do.
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