Trail derails in Glenwood Canyon | VailDaily.com
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Trail derails in Glenwood Canyon

Ryan Graff/Special to the Daily

GLENWOOD CANYON – An eastbound Union Pacific coal train derailed Sunday in Glenwood Canyon, toppling cars onto their sides and dumping their contents.

The train derailed at about noon between the No Name and Grizzly Creek exits on Interstate 70.

The derailment caused all trains scheduled to go through the canyon to be re-routed, including Amtrak.

Union Pacific didn’t know as of Sunday evening what caused the derailment, said George Maddalone, a Union Pacific track inspector. A train had passed through the canyon just 20 minutes before the derailment with no problem, said Maddalone.

Union Pacific officials could not be reached for further comment on Sunday.

Motorists on interstate slowed to look south across the Colorado River at the overturned coal cars, and some pulled over onto the shoulder to take pictures.

As many as 10 coal cars looked to have derailed, along with two Union Pacific engines.

Five cars had turned on their sides, spilling their loads onto the tracks and riverbanks. The dark black coal covered large patches of snow on the banks, but neither the cars nor their contents looked like they reached the river’s edge.

Some of the derailed coal cars were completely perpendicular to the track, and the sides of the cars had bulged and bowed into “S”-shaped bends.

Train buffs and photographers pulled over in the Grizzly Creek and No Name rest areas to walk down the canyon bike path to a vantage point across the river from the site of the derailment. Most were turned back by the deep snow covering the path.

One train buff who drove to Grizzly Creek after he got a phone call about the derailment was Steve Kafka of Gypsum.

“I’ve been chasing trains through here for 25 years,” said Kafka.

Though Kafka admitted he was no expert and just a train buff, he said it looked like the train’s engines had been pushing at different speeds.

The train had a pair of engines at the front, middle, and end of the train. Kafka said if the middle pair of engines was pushing too hard, it could cause the train to derail.

Kafka also said the warm weather and melting snow could have played a part in the derailment because it causes the ground to become spongy, which makes the track unsteady.

Amtrak buses passengers

The train depot in Glenwood Springs was filled with waiting Amtrak passengers Sunday evening.

Lynn Miller was in Glenwood Springs for the weekend from Bluffton, Ohio, to attend a conference and ski.

“I love this kind of adventure,” said Miller at about 5:30 p.m.

His Amtrak train was scheduled to depart at 12:52 p.m., but when he got to the station at 12:30 p.m. he was told that there had just been a train derailment in the canyon.

At 5:30 p.m. he was still waiting for a bus Amtrak had arranged to come pick up him and other passengers.

Miller said the bus would take him as far as Dotsero, then he would board an Amtrak train on to Ohio.

Despite the long wait, Miller was still in high spirits.

Miller spent the day talking to Union Pacific workers who were assembling at the Glenwood station, and “just enjoying the excitement,” he said.

Miller said he takes Amtrak whenever he can, and usually rides the train a couple of times a year.

“Amtrak starts with “a’ – that’s for adventure,” he said.


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