jhwThe Lost Creek and Dolores Railway Company was incorporated in the state of Delaware on June 9, 1911. Its founding officers included John Hamish Watson, Chairman of the Board, pictured here; Colonel Sam Ralston, Treasurer and Comptroller; James McMarren, and C. W. Farrelly, Directors. These last two gentlemen, successful mine owners, were investors in the company and long-time cronies of Colonel Ralston. Aside from lending their money to the Corporate treasury and their names to the Corporate letterhead, they had no actual duties other than to consume the Corporate whisky and cigars, which they did with skill and dedication. The majority of their railroad experience consisted of waving at the trains passing by their office in Dolores.

millThe company planned to build a narrow gauge railroad between the Lost Creek mining district, in the San Isabel Mountains of southwest Colorado, and the city of Dolores, there to interchange with Otto Mears' Rio Grande Southern Railway, connecting with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in Durango and Ridgway.

shaythumb1Sam Ralston, whose colonelcy was both brevet and brief, deriving from his service in the 3rd Nebraska Volunteer Light Infantry ("The Fighting Corn Cobs") during the Philippine Insurrection, convinced messrs. McMarren and Farrelly that once the LC&D connected with the RGS at Dolores, they would be able to have their private "business cars" coupled to trains of any railroad and travel gratis throughout the United States. The distinction between "narrow gauge" and "standard gauge" (a matter of 201/2 inches at that time and place) being lost on these two less than perspicacious gentlemen, they were easily persuaded to invest their profits from the famous Floozy Gal mine in the otherwise undercapitalized and moderately unnecessary railroad.

Corporate offices were established in the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, with Operating headquarters in Dolores. Named as Superintendent of the Operating Department was James "Kettle Head Jimmy" Ridgway, who was not related to Arthur, or any other noteworthy Ridgway. James came by his sobriquet during the Spanish War when, as a Major in the 1st Colorado Volunteer Infantry, his unit came under intense and distressingly accurate Spanish fire outside Santiago de Cuba. He said to his aide, Captain Werner Warner, "By God, Captain! Get these kettle heads out of my way! I'm needed at headquarters!" (NB: The "kettle heads" in question were Jimmy's own troops.)(NB: Rarely, oh so rarely, is a Major of Volunteer Infantry needed at headquarters on short notice, and at the height of the battle.)

turntableMaster Mechanic for the new railroad was Creed Leon "Old 3-Finger" Pausch, an artisan who had over 35 years experience with steam engines of many kinds, but whose only railroad experience was as an engine wiper on the Pottawatomie and North Western, shortly after he was dismissed from the service of the Missouri and Montana Steam Navigation Co. His responsibility in the Empress of the Missouri disaster was never clearly established.

work train
Track construction began at each end of the railroad on August 23, 1911 and halted for the winter on December 9, with a total of 37 miles of railroad having been built. Construction resumed in April, 1912, and the remainder of the main line was completed in September of that year. Work from the Lost Creek end of the line was overseen by "Kettle Head" Ridgway himself. The crew working from Dolores went largely unsupervised, Roadmaster Marvin "Marvin" Royster having decided to hold himself aloof from the actual work process. "Marvin", the brother-in-law of Director Farrelly's niece's husband's second cousin, was entirely unqualified to supervise railroad construction and decided that he would contribute the most by contributing the least.

Construction was significantly delayed by the need to re-survey eleven miles of main line. It was discovered that the original survey, made by Demetrius "The Mad Geometer" Van Gelder, was fatally flawed. Under a series of aliases, Van Gelder had surveyed the west for over twenty-five years, mislocating properties in nineteen states and territories. Van Gelder is responsible for most of the "Lost Lake", "Lost Creek" and "No Name Creek" place names in the Rocky Mountain West. He also named Right Here, Nevada.

In the case of the LC&D, Van Gelder, calling himself W. Amos Peebles, sent the railroad through Wet Lake, below Nekkid Lady Peak. By way of explanation, "Peebles" pointed out that his route saved more than ten miles and, anyway, the lake didn't appear to be especially deep.

jimsThe fascinating story of this wholly superfluous rail line will be continued as soon as the necessary research materials have been decontaminated. Many boxes of records, diaries, and official documents were discovered in the basement of Kettle Head Jimmy's house, but, alas, Jimmy failed to consider the fact that marmots living in the basement would ummm...relieve themselves in the boxes.

Jimmy Ridgway was a notorious pack rat who saved every piece of paper that crossed his desk. Some historians believe that Jimmy's voluminous collection of records was meant to be used for purposes of blackmail. While your writer will not pass judgement on the merits of this idea, it may be safely observed that the theory would explain Jimmy's continued employment by the LC&D.

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