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  • Topic: The Tale of the Sad Monkey Railroad; a tourist ride on.

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    • February 7, 2016 6:55 PM EST
      • Holiday Inn Express, School of train repair
         
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      The Tale of the Sad Monkey Railroad; a tourist ride on.

      Palo Duro State Park is located in the Texas Panhandle about 30 miles South of Amarillo. Originally the site of the JA Ranch owned by Charles Goodnight and John Adair it was purchased by the state of Texas in 1933. It immediately became a project under the Civilian Conservation Corp who built the first roads down to the floor as well as cabins and office space that would later become the Ranger facilities. It opened to the public in October of 1934 still unfinished. Public works projects would go on for years as roads were paved, campsites built and archaeological sites excavated.

      At the base of the main road the State installed an amphitheater, future home of the longest continual running musical production in the nation, "Texas". Nearby was an even more impressive (at least to train enthusiasts) facility, The Sad Monkey Railroad.

      Constructed in 1955 it ran over two miles of winding track across the canyon floor. The twenty minute ride featured a narrative provided by the engineer which included both historical and geological points of interest. Passengers waiting at the main station could could get a frozen custard, a hot dog or cold soda at the adjoined terminal.

       

       

      It was a very popular tourist attraction especially for kids in the area. Operating from 1955 until 1996 it never had a single accident. It did however have one notable crime. In 1972 an over exuberant eight year old young man leapt into the unattended cab of the running engine, hit some levers and stole the train!!! The thief was apprehended less than 100 feet from the station but it was a valiant effort. I believe I remain the only person ever to be banned for life from the railroad but on the upside I am also its youngest engineer.

       

       

       

       

      I don't know much about the technical aspects of the train, but I believe it had a motor in the tender which ran on gasoline and used a centrifugal clutch. It pulled eight cars which were flat beds with benches attached.

       

       

      The train got its name from a rock formation that resembled a sad faced monkey. It is just to the right along the top edge. It unfortunately does not exist anymore as erosion undermined the outcropping and sent it into the canyon floor below in 1997. The same year the original owner of the railroad passed away.

       

       

      In 1994 The Texas legislature changed how the state parks and wildlife department operated. The emphasis shifted to a more bureaucratic mandated set of rules rather than individual agreements with vendors and landowners. The owner/operators of the Sad Monkey Railroad were unable to meet the new requirements. These rules addressed concerns of liability. It was a thin argument on the state's part as Texas could not be sued due to Sovereign Immunity and the railroad carried  a 1 million dollar insurance policy. Never the less the railroad was removed in 1996 and sold for scrap.

       

      Even though it was a sad day for the sad monkey the railroad was not dead. Purchased by a local rancher the train and some of its track were moved to a nearby pasture. It would sit there for the next twenty years before getting a new lease on life.

       

       

       

       

       

      In 2015 the train was purchased by Barbara Logan of Canyon Texas for $10,000. She then donated it to the city of Canyon. Together with some volunteers it was brought to the grounds of the Randall County prison where convicts worked to restore the engine and three cars. While it will not run again the train now sports a fresh coat of paint and a shiny new brass bell. It is now being moved to the city park and on July 4th 2016 will be dedicated to all the children that once enjoyed it.

      This post was edited by Boomer K. MOGWAI at March 6, 2016 1:24 PM EST
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      Boomer

       

      These Bachmann connies are great but you gotta hit'em jusssst rightttt!

       

    • February 7, 2016 7:08 PM EST
      • Vail, Az
         
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      nice

       

       

       

      This post was edited by John Caughey at February 7, 2016 11:09 PM EST
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      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • February 7, 2016 7:52 PM EST
      • YYC, CANADA
         
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      Great story   glad to hear it did not end up scrap ! 

       

      4-6-4 ?

       

      Did you get to work on it during its later refurb',  ya "thief"  ;)

       

      "...from a rock formation that resembled a sad faced monkey. It is just to the right at the top edge. " 

      Personally,  can see a sad monkey looking right ... almost in middle top with a 'smokey the bear face' straight on, to its left  :)     Is this formation per chance where they might have practiced for that mt rushmore thingie .

       

      doug c

       

       

      This post was edited by Doug Cannon at February 7, 2016 7:55 PM EST
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      " G-Gauge may not RULE, but it  GROWS  on Ya !! "    djc'99

    • February 7, 2016 7:54 PM EST
      • Holiday Inn Express, School of train repair
         
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      Forgot this. Enjoy the ride.

       

      This post was edited by Boomer K. MOGWAI at March 6, 2016 1:23 PM EST
      ____________________________________

       

      Boomer

       

      These Bachmann connies are great but you gotta hit'em jusssst rightttt!

       

    • February 7, 2016 8:01 PM EST
      • Right here 'X', Pa
         
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      Great tidbit of history there Boomer. Another well done post.

    • February 7, 2016 9:04 PM EST
      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
         
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      Doug Cannon said:

      Great story   glad to hear it did not end up scrap ! 

       

      4-6-4 ?

       

      Did you get to work on it during its later refurb',  ya "thief"  ;)

       

      "...from a rock formation that resembled a sad faced monkey. It is just to the right at the top edge. " 

      Personally,  can see a sad monkey looking right ... almost in middle top with a 'smokey the bear face' straight on, to its left  :)     Is this formation per chance where they might have practiced for that mt rushmore thingie .

       

      doug c

       

       

      Was Boomer a convict in 2015?

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    • February 8, 2016 7:19 AM EST
      • high desert California
         
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      Very interesting.  Thanks for posting . . . . .  

    • February 8, 2016 7:35 AM EST
      • Phippsburg, Maine
         
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      Boy can that guy talk!  Quite a little railway they had set up and some good western scenery. 

    • February 8, 2016 8:39 AM EST
      • Tolland County, Ct.
         
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      Very cool, Thanks for posting Boomer. 

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      RRR#2...........Linville Jct. RR

      RRR#2...........Linville Jct. RR

       Live steam.

    • February 10, 2016 8:21 AM EST
      • Easton , Massachusetts
         
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      I believe I remain the only person ever to be banned for life from the railroad but on the upside I am also its youngest engineer.

      Boomer you rascal you!

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      The light in the tunnel might not be an engine , but a light in the caboose of my own train on my Roundy Round Rail Road !    My empire is complete...I think...

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