Finally the West Portal Alpine Tunnel

July 20, 2004

We were thirsty when we hit Pitkin and stopped at a little gas station, quick
mart for cold canned pop. For some reason I took no pictures of Pitkin, which was
a shame becaues it is a lovely little town. On the way up we were often annoyed by
a flock of extremely noisy dirt bikers, which could be heard echoing off
the canyon walls for miles in every direction.

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While still deep in the forest, we pass an old Denver South Park & Pacific water tank that's been preserved and restored.

This area is called the palisades .

The old railroad bed was lumpy and bumpy and sometimes we had to send a working
party out front to rearrange small boulders in the path of my car. Here, we are
near the top, paused to admire one of the lovely stone retaining walls beneath a cut.

Here's what this place looked like 100 years ago when the railroad tracks were still
in place and trains still passed thru Alpine Tunnel on their way to Gunnison.
(Photo courtesy of HistoGrafica.)

Chris took this pic very close to the same location as the above photo.

We're at the Tunnel area. This was an important facility there and appropriately named
Thunder Station... very clean but again with interesting breezes from below while in use.

A bit North of the Thunder Station, I climbed around a necessary gate to keep wheeled
vehicles out of this beautiful alpine park. The rest of the party is out of sight.
The remains of the old engine house can be seen to the right of the roadbed ahead.

GFred is pretty happy to be here. But then so was I. Chris has disappeared into the tunnel entrance.
The place was a virtual paradise... bright sunshine and beautiful flowers everywhere.

Well maybe he didn't disappear into the entrance... this is a picture he took of it. Seems
reasonably collapsed. I think the logs in the lower right used to be part of the snow shed.

Some group has laid tracks and partially rebuilt the old turntable (that's Gfred among it).
In the background you can see that 95 years of falling rock is covering the old roadbed.

I propped my camera on a rock for a self portrait.

The wildflowers were phenomenal.

Heading back to the car. You can see the Thunder Station in the background.

More to come soon... er... someday

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This page updated September 8, 2010