Friday, June 21, 2013

Color that you can see from the air

Bright orange red color.

Years ago, in the wreckage of the Black Forest Fire, I encountered a encouraging point of light,  offering hope and the possibility of renewal, in an otherwise dismal landscape.

By Rob Carrigan,

Out there among the charred tree trunks, wreckage, incinerated dreams, ash-strewn memories, dust, and heartbreaking despair — I noticed some color.
Bright orange red color.
Ben Robinett, with his green jeans stained black, from days sifting around in the ash of what used be his home, the owner of that color had been looking for his car keys.
He waved us over when we noticed the bright spot, during a media tour Friday, June 21.
Black everywhere, but here, more than little bit of bright orange red.
Robinett, a Fort Carson firefighter by trade, says it is color, he has been told, that you can see from the air.
The color takes the form of a 1968 Ford Galaxy.
"I have had it for about a year and a half. Worked on it constantly. My dad was an auto mechanic, and I love to work on it for old times sake. Painted it (even inside the engine compartment, ) shined it up. It was about three quarters done. I know all about it. I was the fourth owner."
And that bright orange red was for a reason.
"We called it 'Birdy.' I am a big St. Louis Cardinals fan."
Robinett was off shift when he learned the fire was burning and he and his family needed to evacuate.
"Needed to get my six-year-old out of here. I had a trailer right over there and thought I might need it for a place to stay, and my 16-year-old drove her car out."
So, it was bye-bye Birdy, he thought.
He had to leave it in the forest, in the minimal protection of the little hut.
He expected to lose everything he had left behind.
But today he is talking with the tow company, and despite looking through what are now the ashes of his house, he hasn't found his car keys. It melted the gun safes, everything.
The cover of the building is gone. And there is a little blistering of the paint on the passenger-side flank of the Galaxy. The five-gallon buckets nearby, are melted through. All-in-all however, good shape. The paint is burnt off the license plate in back, but hardly any damage to the car itself.
What a wonderful spot of color she is? Bright Orange Red.
Cardinal Color. A bright spot, among the shades of gray and black.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Woodland Park benefactor enjoyed the dance

 Bergstrom had his hands in about everything, Woodland Park

By Rob Carrigan,

Jim Curlee of Cleburne, Texas, had the following recent remembrances, shared with me by email.
"Bert Bergstrom was a good friend of mine when I was stationed in Ft. Carson from '60 to '65. He did not associate with many soldiers but he did me. Bert kept me supplied with elk meat for many years.
He was the Game Warden when I knew him."
Curlee described how he befriended Bergstrom.
"Bert drove a Jeep station wagon with a rope winch on the front bumper. He used the winch to pull Elk up and down the hill in the High Country. It was a three-quarter inch treated Sisal rope I scrounged up for Bert and it filled the drum. Bert was proud of that rope. He used to lead people outside to show them the rope."
Curlee noted that the big Swede liked to dance.
"I travelled to Woodland Park one night a week and every weekend because it was cheaper to drink there. Bert loved to dance and he would pick up the girls and carry them around the floor. Their feet struck him about at his knees."
He also remembered the good times in then in Woodland Park.
"Bert donated the land for the Ute Trail Stampede just across the street from the bar. You could sit in the grandstands and watch the Rodeo or you could lift your eyes and watch Pikes Peak."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"War Baby" once ran in Cripple Creek

Los Angeles Railway PCC Car No. 3101

One of the "War Babies"

By Rob Carrigan,

Presidents' Conference Commitee (PCC) cars were built for many cities from 1936 to 1951. The PCC cars ordered by Los Angeles Railway were narrow guage (3 feet, 6 inches). Production of PCC cars was halted when the United States entered World War II.
In 1943, an exception was made and Los Angeles Railway received 30 cars to transport workers employed in critical war material industries.  No 3101 was the sixth of these "War Babies" and began operating in late November 1943,  under Los Angeles Railway colors. By 1945, it had become a Los Angeles Transit Authority car until 1958, then later as Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority car, when its last run was March 31, 1963.
It was 20 years old and in need of a general overhaul.
Shortly after retiring, it was moved to Cripple Creek for Gold Camp Railway and Museum where it ran for a short time on 900 feet of track until it was purchased in 1969 by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club and moved to the Colorado Railroad Museum. It was leased in 1994, to the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation (PPHSRF) and then purchased by that group in 2006.
Of the 30 "War Babies" built, only two have survived the scrapper. The other car is in operation at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California.
As far as Car No. 3101, "Plans are to overhaul the car for daily transit operation in Colorado Springs in due course," according an information sheet in the window at the Pikes Peak Historic Street Railway Foundation and Museum at 2333 Steel Drive, in Colorado Springs.