Comanche & Indian Gap Railroad
The Comanche & Indian Gap Railroad is a private track located near Comanche, Texas. It was built by Roy Pickard and family and friends.
2016 Spring Ops Meet
The annual Spring Operations Meet was held the week of March 6, 2016. In spite of heavy rain the meet was a great success.
Danny Click wrote the following:
- We started the re-building of the C&IG in late February of last year. In 12 months we have re-laid and refurbished over 3,000' of C&IG mainline.
- 1,500' of steel rail. Mainly on the outside rail of the curves.
- Nearly 4,000 EP plastic ties, 500 concrete ties. Plus about 500 new wood ties.
- Over 18,000 screws.
- About 35 tons of ballast and another 30 tons of road base.
- We have some really good track now in some critical areas around the railroad, however, this place is huge we have several more years to go. That is just fine with us because for the Friends of the C&IG the journey is the fun! Stay tuned.
Danny Click posted on Facebook, August 2016:
- While working on the railroad, we always marvel at what Roy was able to build and accomplish. It is truly amazing. We will complete a section of the railroad and think about how much we accomplished that week look around and realize how big the railroad is! I wanted to see exactly how much of the railroad we have touched so far so I grabbed a track plan and highlighted the areas we have re-built or re-furbished in the last year and a half. The photo is below. I know Roy would enjoy the progress we've made and laugh out loud at the looks on our faces each time we look up covered in sweat and dirt and realize how far we have to go!....and love every minute of it! Most folks don't work as hard as we play!
From Brian, posted on Chaski.org:
- Roy and Marylin Pickard began this railroad way back in the late 70's - early 80's. It is the first point to point live steam railroad built and designed exclusively for operation, with dispatchers, radios, freight trains, and passenger trains running via timetable.
- It takes a great amount of effort nearly year-round to maintain and then prepare the railroad for the runs in the spring and fall. The irregulars provide service from cutting brush, repairing and maintaining right of way and trackage, building and maintaining signals, and servicing and rebuilding rolling stock. We have folks that come from all over, and some of the gypsies have recently rebuilt one of the major steel bridges and a turntable.
From Tom, posted on Trainorders.com:
- In the late 1970's Roy Pickard bought a ranch near Priddy, Tx. He went to Texas A&M to learn how to raise cows so that he could get a agricultural tax exemption on the land. His real purpose was to build a live steam railroad, the Comanche and Indian Gap. It would be spread over about 150 acres of rolling land, some heavily forested and other parts out in the open.
- Roy and his son built about 80% of the railroad moving a lot of dirt and rocks to provide a right of way. Word spread about it and some came to see what he had done before it was finished. Some said he was crazy, others just thought he was a little nuts. But, in spite of that some started helping and the railroad main line was finished. It had to cross some creeks, one in particular called Cowhouse Creek which required a 120 ft bridge that ranged to a height of 10 ft over the Creek,and rise up some tough hills with plenty of curvature. Some parts such as the "raceway allowed you to "come out" on the throttle if only for a 150 yards, then it was back to curves and grades.
- Roy wasn't just building a live steam track, he was building a railroad complete with many passing tracks and sidings for freight trains to work. It was to be operated as a real railroad, dispatched by radio controlling train movements and meets. Roy made use of concealment of the track in wooded areas. In some places you would be close to another part of he mainline of the railroad and not even know it when trees and bushes were leafed out. The track ran from 3 terminals, West Yard, Comanche Yard, and Indian Gap each with a turntable and water spouts. It had tower 17, a tall structure that seated the dispatcher and a CTC machine for the Zuni (Tower 17) tracks and wye. It was the nerve center of the railroad. Radios were early radio shack 5 channel radios with only 1/4 miles range and not really good at that.
- Roy's wife has said she will keep the meets going as long as she lives. All maintenance is now done by a small group of men who come to the track about 4 weekends a year plus all those who come to meets work on track Monday-Wednesday, and then run the rest of he week. The tracks 31 year history has almost a complete turnover in those who now come to the meets. Many of the original group have passed away and others are so old now they just don't travel the long distances to get there anymore. Even I don't come but a couple of days now. Knees just can't do what they used to do. Father time can be a little cruel.
Terry McGrath wrote, 5 May 2014:
- I attended the spring meet at the C&IG, rode the trains, walked the mainline, spent some time in the West Yard. I found concrete ties and new wood ties, expanded ballast work along portions of the main line and working signals. Trains had little trouble with derailments and I noticed a lot of retainer walls to keep mud from sliding onto the mainline during rains. While the railroad needs much more work, I have concluded that the C&IG is going to be around for many years to come. Peter is very enthusiastic about the future of the railroad, and has said the Pickard family is committed to keep operations going forward. If you are thinking of going to the C&IG's fall meet in October, right after the Terrell meet, consider taking your engine and some cars, as there will be even more work done on the railroad this summer.
In 2018 Peter Bryan put together a list of key people responsible for the development of the railroad. Please not that this list is not complete.
- Gene Allen
- Joe & Gwen Baily
- Lee Balkum
- Harry "Scorcher" Bean
- Rick Bierman
- Hank & Myra Blossom
- Bob Blyth
- Ken Casford
- Billy Chaffin
- Doug Chancey
- John Enders
- Tom Enloe
- Harry Haas
- Truman & Vera Hefner
- Ernest Gerloff
- Alex, Grace and Nick Hitzfelder
- Jack Green
- James Goodson
- David Hannah III
- Ralph Howels
- Loren Jennings
- Walter Johnson
- Tom Keenan
- Ed & Jean Leatherwood
- Jack & Shirley Lucks
- Lee Lyons
- Ed McCamey
- Terry McGrath
- Jim Murray
- Art Olds
- Jack & Lyrette Owen
- Roy Pickard
- Ben Pearlman
- Ed Rains
- Lynn Ratliff
- Joe & May Robertson
- Harry & Shirley Simpson
- Dan Spiner
- Mike Spoor
- Fred Springer
- Harold Staples
- C.T. Sumrall
- Jim "Tweetie" Tolson
- Julian Van Sickle
- K. Volrath
- Curt Werner
- Richard Wilms
Comanche & Indian Gap Railroad, Slo Order Bridge, photo from Lee Balkham website
Seven-year-old Garrett at the throttle of his grandfather's (Harry "Scorcher" Bean) 1.5-inch Southern Pacific consolidation #3420X pulling out of the Indian Gap yard on the Comanche & Indian Gap Railroad in 2001. From DiscoverLiveSteam.com
by Tom Stamey
Roy had named a lot of spots along the railroad, some for individuals, the bridge over helper, town of Gotebo, passing track of Lehnis, etc. We dept asking what he was going to name Pickard. He said absolutely nothing because if he did it would be kind of self serving and he was not into that because too many other people had helped.
The loop around Comanche had been a thorn in his side for years. He had tried everyway under the sun to cut through and could not. Dick Parker of Chicago came up with the idea of people chipping in to pay for a BIG bull dozer to come do the work. $100 a person was asked and paid. All without Roy knowing what was going on until the money had been collected and he was told about it (becuase he would have to get someone with a dozer out there). Truman Hefner and I paid for a plack to be made naming the cut "Pickard Gap" and surprised Roy with it at a ceremony regarding the last rail being laid in the gap. Jack Lucks videoed it.
Texas Live Steam
Robinson and Associates published a video titled "Texas Live Steam" in 2008. The following description of the C&IG is from their website:
- Robinson takes us to Roy Pickard’s Comanche & Indian Gap. Even though most of the railroad is just a few hundred yards from the rest of the railroad there is a wide variety of landscape in miniature. Portions of the railroad run through rolling hills with deep cuts and high fills. There are thick patches of bushes and small gnarled trees that make very believable scale woods. Other areas evoke a sense of broad grassy prairies with sun scorched earth.
- For the last hundred years the most common form of live steam “operations” has been heading out on the mainline loop and making sure you didn’t run into the train ahead of you. From the beginning Mr. Pickard wanted a railroad that would more closely replicate the activity of the prototype. This was a rather revolutionary idea in the live steam world thirty years ago. And the C&IG deserves credit for being a pioneer in live steam railroad operations.
- "The Comanche & Indian Gap RR", Peter R. Bryan, Model Railroader, July 1997, Vol 64, Issue 7, page 74
- Tom Moody comments and photos on C&IG
- 2010 Operations on C&IG The Drail