Vanishing Varnish Limited edition #168 signed by Gregory LePak HC Red Cover

Vanishing Varnish Limited edition #168 signed by Gregory LePak HC Red Cover

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Vanishing Varnish Limited edition #168 signed by Gregory LePak HC Red Cover
Vanishing Varnish Limited edition #168 signed Hard Cover 256 pages by Gregory LePak
By 1872, the little railroad boasted of transporting some 25,168 revenue passengers for an average of 80 people per day -excluding an ignominious figure of some 300,000 miles of travel credited to free passes! Needless to say, the Rio Grande abolished the free passes in 1873. In 1874, confident of transcontinental aspirations, the Rio Grande initiated several safety devices for passenger equipment. Miller platforms, Westinghouse straight air brakes and an early primitive, practical automatic coupler were features installed on that early varnish.
When the mainline had reached Canon City in the summer of 1875, the two trains per day schedule from Denver was designated EXPRESS trains #1 and #2. Though trains #1 - #2 suggested an expeditious movement of passengers it still required some ten hours to complete the 160 mile journey to Canon City! General Palmer purchased three larger passenger locomotives, (Baldwin built 2-6-0s) capable of attaining speeds of 20 m.p.h. with a normal consist of one baggage and two coaches-thus providing a more efficient mode of travel.
During the summer of 1877, the mainline had attained four percent grades and crossed 9,393 foot Veta Pass and progressed across the San Luis Valley to Alamosa in July of 1878-some 250 miles from Denver. The construction pace slowed at Canon City while General Palmer and his Chief Engineer John McMurtrie encountered competition from the previously uninterested Santa Fe Railroad. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Company had beaten Palmer to Raton Pass while simultaneously surveying the entrance to the Canon of the Royal Gorge west of Canon City. Recalling that the original letters of incorporation expressed the intention of the D. & R.G. to roughly follow the river of its namesake to Santa Fe and on into El Paso and old Mexico, Palmer's railroad not only lost its southern route, but, was now engaged in a two-year court battle over possession of the gorge, whose narrow confines would only permit single passage. The Treaty of Boston in 1880, settled the legal encounter by calling for the Rio Grande to make financial restitution of $1,400,000 plus interest for construction costs in the gorge including the famous hanging bridge designed by civil engineer C. Shaler Smith and built by the Santa Fe. It was later estimated that the A. T. & S.F.'s costs for all right-of-way work only amounted to some $566,216. In return for this financial settlement, the Santa Fe agreed not to intrude west of the Rio Grande's established main-lines in Colorado while the D. & R.G. was prohibited from intrusions over Raton Pass and into New Mexico.
With the riches of Leadville awaiting his steamcars, Palmer reclaimed possession of his property in the gorge and swiftly moved westward to the carbonate capitol. In 1880, Leadville, lavishly attired with all manner of bars, dance halls, and houses of ill repute-resplendent in a facade of an early Egyptian masque, offered numerous incentives for entertainment for its 14,000 inhabitants. Leadville possessed two fine, pretentious hotels, the Grand and the Clarendon. H.A.W. Tabor favored the Clarendon to luxuriate with numerous accompanying ladies in an atmosphere of imported champagne and caviar. All 125 bars in Leadville were scenes nightly of shootings and stabbings or lesser violence. Along with universal gambling, one's entire fortune could be lost or found-depending on one's honesty! Mining establishments included the Matchless, the Little Pittsburgh, the Vulture, the Robert E. Lee and the Carbonate-all providing millions of dollars a month in silver. The period 1880-1885 saw Leadville diggings average some 300 tons of pure silver per year. Horace Tabor would lament when he awoke in the morning he would be yet another $5,000 dollars richer than he had been the previous evening! Licentious, remote and incredibly rich, Leadville awaited the opportunistic Palmer.

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