Teeny, Tiny Little (Rail) Cars: NARCOA!
In some ways, it looked like a kid’s amusement park, as over thirty teeny, tiny rail carts made their way up the Arkansas Valley, all in a row. But for those who may have caught a glimpse of these compact vehicles gathered outside the old railroad roundhouse up in Poverty Flats, what you were seeing was an official NARCOA excursion.
Never heard of them? It’s the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) whose group was on an excursion, with over thirty carts taking their own private trip on the rails, in between the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad’s regular daily trips.
For railroad buffs, this is The Indy 500 for trains, as NARCOA members operate their own privately owned railroad motorcars on railroads throughout the United States and Canada during railroad-sanctioned NARCOA excursions. Members travel through some of the most picturesque areas of the North America, with excursions varying from one-day, 25 mile trips between two towns to multi-day, 1,000 mile trips covering several states or provinces!
ABOUT NARCOA (from their website)
North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) is a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation and the safe, legal operation of railroad equipment historically used for maintenance of way. Railroad motorcars or ‘Speeders’ were used by the railroads to inspect the many miles of track for defects and to handle track maintenance.
Speeders have been phased out by the railroads in favor of Hy-Rail Vehicles, which are standard road vehicles with retractable guide wheels that can operate on road or rail. Railfans bought the scrap speeders and organized NARCOA in the mid 1980’s, although some members also own and operate the modern Hy-Rail vehicles as well.
According to the NARCOA website, “Running a speeder costs considerably less than boating or golfing although some think it’s a hot, noisy and smelly hobby!”
Membership Information – NARCOA has over 1,700 members worldwide. Membership in the Association is open to anyone. To obtain membership information, visit the “How to join NARCOA” page on the NARCOA web site (www.narcoa.org ) where you can download a membership form.