The Prospector

Last Update: 12/06/2008

 

 

Background:

The Prospector (trains 7 & 8) had four distinct iterations.

The first Prospector was an innovative pair of two-car self-propelled train sets produced by Budd. Initiating service on November 17, 1941, the trains were scheduled to make the trip between Denver and Salt Lake City over the Moffat route in 13 hours. They were so successful that they quickly became unsuccessful. The inability to expand the consist was one major problem as the demand far exceeded supply. The trains were rather unreliable as well. They were simply not robust enough for the service. By July 5, 1942, the trains had been removed from the time tables. While a failure in many ways, the trains did provide invaluable experience in diesels, streamlined equipment and Budd products, as well as insight into the ability of innovations to attract traffic.

The second Prospector was a result of renaming the Advanced Exposition Flyer to The Prospector and equipping the train with standard (heavyweight) cars. The Advanced Exposition Flyer was inaugurated in January, 1944. It became the coach and tourist car portion of the Exposition Flyer (which became "all Pullman"). In October, 1945, the train was renamed The Prospector and rescheduled to an overnight train, similar to the schedule run by the first Prospectors.

The third Prospector was a refurbishing and repainting of many of the cars involved in the Exposition Flyer. With these cars no longer needed for the Exposition Flyer (as a result of the new California Zephyr cars [domes and 10-6s] being used on the Exposition Flyer before the start-up of the CZ), many of the cars were refurbished and repainted into a glossy black exterior with four "Grande Gold" stripes arrayed along the full length of the car below the windows. The Pullmans that were assigned to the service also were painted in the scheme, making this (in theory) the first train that carried one color scheme from front (the locomotives) to rear. This version started May 30, 1948.

The fourth Prospector was a completely new train, with brand new streamlined equipment. This version entered service in May, 1950. The cars were all purchased directly from Pullman, and they had been ordered by the C&O as part of a massive order to re-equip their trains. When the C&O reconsidered their purchase, other buyers were found for the cars at drastically reduced costs. Never a railroad to let a good deal pass by, the D&RGW purchased 25 cars, enough to re-equip the Prospector completely, while adding new cars to the Royal Gorge and allowing for some contingency cars. These cars took their paint scheme from the narrow gauge equipment that had been displayed at the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1949. The scheme was Grande Gold above the windows, aluminum below the belt rail with 4 black stripes separating the colors. A new operational aspect presented itself as a result of the coal miners' strike in 1950, as the Royal Gorge equipment was combined with the Prospector between Grand Junction and Salt Lake City. The arrangement worked well enough that it continued for the service lives of the two trains. The Prospector was discontinued in the Spring of 1967.

Images of The Prospector:

Equipment Notes:

As with any passenger train, modeling the Prospector must be determined by the year and season that you plan on modeling. In terms of Rio Grande passenger trains, this is perhaps truer for the Prospector than any train.

Note that the following conditions are factors in determining equipment:

  • Year - obvious as to which version of the train, but with the 4th variation, the equipment began getting the single stripe scheme around 1961. Around 1963, some cars had their skirts removed for ease of maintenance.
  • Location - East of Grand Junction, it would be a smaller train, West of Grand Junction, it was combined with the Royal Gorge (see above).
  • Era - after 1962, the decline in passenger loads hit the train, and there wouldn't be a need to reserve two sleepers and 2 of the 52-seat coaches for the Prospector. After this period, some of the P-S built sleepers could also appear on the Royal Gorge, and coaches on the Yampa Valley.
Car Type Years Number / Name Description and Notes Modeling Notes (in HO)
Version 1 Prospector
Trains 1 & 2 1941-1942

JOHN EVANS - DAVID MOFFAT

HEBER C. KIMBALL - BRIGHAM YOUNG

2 car self powered trainsets

Budd built trainsets, scrapped 1945

Custom Brass
.
Version 2 Prospector
Baggage - Dorm 1945 - 1948 722, 729, 738 61' baggage modified with a dormitory compartment Not Available
Baggage 1945 - 1948 700 - 739 61' Steel Baggage Not Available
Coach 1945 - 1948 900 - 950 70' Steel rebuilt 1910 coaches Not Available
Chair 1945 - 1948 1000 - 1004 70' Steel rebuilt 1910 coaches Not Available
Diner 1945 - 1948

CASTLE PEAK

PIKES PEAK

SOPRIS PEAK

TWIN PEAK

79' steel diners Not Available.
Diner Lounge 1945 - 1948

MT. ANTERO

JAMES PEAK

MT. HARVARD

MT. MASSIVE

MT. YALE

MT. PRINCETON

MT. TIMPANOGOS

80' Steel Diner- Lounge - Observation . Not Available
10-1-1 1945 - 1948 LAKE *, ISLAND *, CHIEF * Pullman Plan 3873A. Branchline - check air conditioning 5510, 5511, 5599
10-1-2 1945 - 1948 PENALOSA, PIZARO Pullman Plan 2585E

Brass - PSC #16290 #17336 & Oriental Limited 0897

Note - these cars have varied windows in the aisles - PSC is correct for the PENALOSA, Oriental is not. CHECK A/C

10-1-2 1945 - 1948 LAKE * Pullman Plan 3585. Branchline 5299, Walthers 932-10551 - Check air conditioning
Observation 1945 - 1948

SPANISH FORK CANON

GRANITE CANON

70' Steel Observation-Lounge

Rebuilt from 1910 coaches

 Not Available
Observation 1945 - 1948

GLENWOOD CANON

RUBY CANON

OGDEN CANON

EAGLE CANON

ROYAL GORGE

80' Steel Observation-Lounge

Rebuilt from 1910 buffet-library cars - GLENWOOD CANON further modernized

Not Available
.
Version 3 Prospector
Baggage - Dorm 1945 - 1950 722, 729, 738 61' baggage modified with a dormitory compartment Not Available
Baggage 1945 - 1967 700 - 739 61' Steel Baggage Not Available
Coach 1945 - 1950 900 - 950 70' Steel rebuilt. Not Available
Chair 1945 - 1950 1000 - 1004 70' Steel rebuilt 1910 coaches Not Available
Diner 1945 - 1950

CASTLE PEAK

PIKES PEAK

SOPRIS PEAK

TWIN PEAK

79' steel diners .. . Not Available.
Diner Lounge 1945 - 1950

MT. ANTERO

JAMES PEAK

MT. HARVARD

MT. MASSIVE

MT. YALE

MT. PRINCETON

MT. TIMPANOGOS

80' Steel Diner- Lounge - Observation . Not Available
1-1-2-12 1948 -1950 ELM/BEECH GROVE & PARK Pullman Plan 4158 Not Available
10-1-1 1945 - 1950 LAKE *, ISLAND *, CHIEF * Pullman Plan 3873A. Branchline - check air conditioning 5510, 5511, 5599
10-1-2 1945 - 1950 PENALOSA Pullman Plan 2585E Not available except brass
10-1-2 1945 - 1950 LAKE * Pullman Plan 3585. Branchline 5299, Walthers 932-10551 - Check air conditioning
Observation 1945 - 1950

SPANISH FORK CANON

GRANITE CANON

70' Steel Observation-Lounge

Rebuilt from 1910 coaches

 Not Available
Observation 1945 - 1950

GLENWOOD CANON

RUBY CANON

OGDEN CANON

EAGLE CANON

ROYAL GORGE

80' Steel Observation-Lounge

Rebuilt from 1910 buffet-library cars - GLENWOOD CANON further modernized

Not Available
.
Version 4 Prospector
Baggage 1950 - 1967 1210 - 1212 Streamlined full baggage Palace Car (brass), NKP Car, Union Station Products
Baggage - Mail 1950 - 1967 1200 - 1202 Streamlined baggage-express-mail Palace Car (brass), NKP Car, Union Station Products
Coach - Dorm- Baggage 1950 - 1989 1230 - 1232 Streamlined coach-baggage with dormitory compartment added by railroad Palace Car (brass), NKP Car, Union Station Products
Coach 1950 - 1965 1240 -1247 Streamlined coach. 1240 modified to business car 1951

Palace Car (brass), NKP Car, Union Station Products

Coach - Dome 1949 - 1967 1248 - 1250 Dome-coach-observations built for the C&O, modified to mid-train use at Burnham Palace Car (brass)
Diner Lounge 1950 - 1967

1280 MT. TIMPANOGOS

1281 JAMES PEAK

Streamlined diner lounges Palace Car (brass), NKP Car, Union Station Products
Lunch Counter 1950 - 1967

1290 CASTLE GATE

1291 ROYAL GORGE

Streamlined Lunch counter, buffet, lounge Palace Car (brass), NKP Car, Union Station Products
Lunch Counter 1950 - 1967 1292 EAGLE CANON Streamlined lunch counter, buffet, lounge, bought from the Pere Marquette order Palace Car (brass), NKP Car
5-6-5 1950 - 1967

1270 - JOHN EVANS

1271 - DAVID MOFFAT

1272 - BRIGHAM YOUNG

1273 - HEBER C. KIMBALL

Sleeper 10 Roomette 6 Bedroom cars modified to 5 Roomette, 6 Bedroom, 5 Section cars.

Palace Car (brass), NKP Car, Union Station Products

Note: This page is still under construction and will likely be continually updated as models and more information come forward.

 
 

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