Bob Pierce Collection

These album photos belonged to Bob Pierce and were donated along with the Hollis & Virginia Spencer Collection. These images were taken in the Chaffee County and Lake County areas in the early 1900s.

Bob worked for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad as a ticket agent and had access to numberous train wrecks that occurred: Granite, Milt Blount, Newcastle, Pando, and Mangen.  The collection includes images of Spiral Drive being built and the first high altitude plane crash, survived by pilot Harry Crewdson, and images of the funeral for Ray Lines, the only soldier from Salida to be killed in World War I.

Bob Pierce’s obituary – Mountain Mail  Sept 23 1969

Spiral Drive was built in 1922 by the Lions Club, Warden Capp, and civic-minded citizens of Salida. The observation at the top of Tenderfoot was built the summer of 1925 by I.W. Haight who gifted it to the city. The Salida Mail reported: “Mr. Haight made this donation to the city because he loves his home town and is impressed with the value of the Spiral driveway.”

Images of the Denver & Rio Grande’s Depot and railyards

Ray Lines Funeral. Ray was the only soldier in Salida to die in World War I.

Various shots of family and friends

Salida was host to one of the first high-altitude flights in the country when pilot Harry Crewdson entertained the crowd during the 4th of July, 1919. Unfortunately, it ended in a spectacular crash when the plane lost power upon descent. Harry walked away with minor scrapes.

Bob Pierce was an agent for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and had access to any train wrecks that occurred in the area.

Granite Train Wreck – Sept. 7, 1926. Thirty people died and 54 people were injured when Passenger Train No. 2 went off the tracks about 2 miles northwest of Granite.

The wreck was spread along the tracks in zigzag fashion and most of the dead were found in car No. 3. A commissioner’s report later determined that car No. 3 was at one point standing perpendicularly in the air before coming to a rest on its side in the Arkansas River.

New Castle Train Wreck – May 7, 1920: This wreck occurred west of Glenwood Springs with no injuries. A wrecking derrick was called in from Grand Junction to remove the wrecked cars off the line so rail travel could resume.

Derricks were specially designed cranes mounted onto cars and at that time had around a 100-ton capacity. Logistically, bringing in a derrick was a considerable undertaking. It could take days for a wreck to be cleared and repairs to the rails would sometimes be necessary.

Salida Train Wreck – July 27, 1923: About 1½ miles west of Salida, the two engines of Passenger Train No. 16 were wrecked due to a rail washout on the line. The washout extended for about 100 yards, and the first engine fell in and buried itself, followed by the second engine, which rammed against it.

Before the wreck, engineer Reardon averted disaster when he noticed a cautionary headlight given off by a neighboring switch engine. Using his “customary Safety First caution,” he slowed the train down from 40 mph to around 10, saving passenger lives.

Unfortunately, there was one fatality. Fireman John Mangan was killed when the coal car crushed him and a steam pipe scalded him to death.

Pando Train Wreck near Tennessee Pass

Garfield, Colorado Train Wreck

Belden Station Wreck – April 13, 1923: Heading south from Minturn, engineer Milt Blount and his crew were clearing a snowslide at Belden Station when the locomotive they were driving hit a loosened rail and turned over into the Eagle River. Milt suffered serious injuries of scalding from the firebox and shock from his arm being pinned under the engine; his crewmates suffered head trauma, scalding and steam inhalation from the boiler.

Engineer Blount was no stranger to rail injuries. In 1908, he was testing a newly overhauled engine and ran it out to Cleora. When the engine stopped, he stepped on the main rod to examine the axle. The throttle started, which caused the engine to move.

Milt got his foot caught between the main and parallel rods, which then peeled the flesh from his foot up to his ankle nearly off. Insult to injury: The force of the throttle’s start threw him 50 feet from the engine. It took Milt three months to recover from his injuries.

Images outside of the Jack Johnson/James Jeffries boxing match at Reno, Nevada that took place on July 4th, 1910.

The Two Sisters in the Sangre de Cristos, Coaldale, Colorado:

Images at Valley View Hot Springs in the San Luis Valley:

Images of Twin Lakes and Independence Pass:

Group outing to Monarch Pass (today Old Monarch Pass):

Outing at Brown Canon:

At the Ski-Hi Stampede in Monte Vista, Colorado:

Souvenir rodeo cards: