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September 28, 2020

Tickets for Aug. 1 ‘Pub Crawl’ Fundraiser Available at Museum


Over 80 years after it left the Lake City train station, narrow gauge Combination Car No. 211 has belatedly returned to its home port.
In the intervening years, much has changed. The railroad tracks on which the combined passenger and freight car plied the miles are long gone, torn up and salvaged in the wake of World War II. Likewise now vanished is the cottage-esque-style Lake City Depot which was dismantled for its building materials shortly after the last train departed.
Rather than the Henson Street depot, now the location of Lake City Fire Station which is built in a style reminiscent of the old train station, home base for Car 211 on its belated return to Lake City is Hinsdale County Museum on Silver Street.
As reported in last week’s issue, the 8’-wide, 42’-long train car was delivered here on June 28 and will open to the public as an interactive museum display following several years’ refurbishment.
As the first step in the restoration project, Hinsdale County Museum is hosting its first “Wet Your Whistle” Pub Crawl on Wednesday afternoon, August 1, as a fundraiser for Car 211.
Following in the steps of similar successful pub crawl fundraisers which are held in both Crested Butte and Gunnison, Hinsdale County Museum’s Pub Crawl sets off from the museum at 3 p.m. on Colorado Day, August 1, after a discussion on the impending restoration by museum volunteers
Jesse Kendall and Scott Campbell. From the museum, Pub Crawl attendees will receve commemorative beer glasses at the start of a walking tour which will take them to three Lake City watering holes: Packer Saloon, Restless Spirits, and Lake City Brewing Co.
Beer samples will be provided at each of the bars as precursor refreshment while three knowledgeable historians give 15-minute presentations on various aspects of Lake City history.
Renowned Gunnison Country historian Dr. Duane Vandenbusche, a fixture at Western State University in Gunnison for over 50 years, will give an entertaining lecture on the history of the Lake City branch of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad at Lake City Brewing Co.; historical society president Grant Houston will be stationed at Restless Spirits Saloon to speak on an overview history of the Lake City and environs; and movie house entrepreneur Phillip Virden will be at Packer Saloon to share insights into Lake City’s social history.
Tickets for the walking pub crawl are $40 per ticket and are limited to a maximum of 75 tickets which include the commemorative glass, beer, wine or soft drink samples at each of the bars, and the three lectures. All proceeds from the event will go toward the start of restoration of Car 211.
Tickets are now available at the museum, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Lake City artist Kathryn A. Sisson DuChene has created a watercolor landscape which features Car 211 as it might have appeared in its palmier days en route to Lake City. The artwork has been reproduced in limited, signed edition suitable for framing which will be available for sale at the museum.
Since the railroad car’s delivery to Lake City late last month, museum directors were pleased to learn that its structural integrity is much better than earlier thought. Don Bayer, who works in railroad car reconstructions for Friends of the Cumbres-Toltec Railroad between Antonito, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico, toured Car 211 last weekend and believes much of the car’s original wood is sound and can be preserved.
Bayer is scheduled to return to Lake City in early August to provide a more detailed assessment of what the refurbishment will entail.
Car 211 started out as a 44-seat narrow gauge passenger coach which was built by Jackson & Sharp for use by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) in 1881.
It was reconfigured in 1900 into a combination car with 24-seat passenger compartment and 16’x7’ baggage and freight compartment. The reconfiguration is indicative of dwindling revenues on some of the D&RG’s branch lines and the desire to maximize use of existing railroad cars.
Unique features of Car 211 were a 3’11” toilet cubical, pot belly wood stove and coal storage, and water cooler with spigot for passenger use. The passenger portion of the car was equipped with 11 2-person seats with reversable backs allowing passengers to face the direction in which the train was traveling. The separate freight and baggage compartment also included a pot belly stove and coal storage, as well as locker and small bunk for train personnel.
The freight area of the car was accessed by two 2’6’x5’9” sliding doors, while access into the passenger compartment was made through a small arched and paneled door.
Interior lighting was provided by 12 windows in the passenger compartment, together with a series of small, rectangular ventilation windows which are part of the sloping “duck bill” roof design.
A major part of the anticipated renovation is re-creation of the platforms at either end of the car which, with hardware including couplers, were removed after Car 211 was retired from service in 1940. Also to be replicated is supporting metalwork beneath the car which, once reinstalled, will be attached to the car’s two three-ton wheel trucks.

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