Historic 1913 steam crane acquired by Granby’s railroad museum

The historic 1913 Denver & Salt Lake steam crane rolls out of the west portal of the Moffat Tunnel Saturday afternoon. The crane is now resting on tracks behind its future home at the Moffat Road Railroad Museum in Granby.
Sawyer D’Argonne / Sky-Hi News

Granby’s long awaited Moffat Road Railroad Museum took one giant step closer to completion last weekend with the arrival of a 225,000-pound 1913 Denver & Salt Lake steam crane.

The crane and its historic boom car were hauled to Granby on Saturday from the Forney Museum of Transportation in Denver where they were being held for the local museum. A crew of Union Pacific workers moved the multi-ton crane and boom to Granby from Denver via railroad, taking the historic items through the Moffat Tunnel.

The trip took roughly six hours with the crane and boom car, which were transported by two diesel locomotive engines, reaching speeds of just 15 to 20 mph. The new acquisition by the Moffat Museum was a labor of love for the museum’s director, Dave Naples, who was effusive with his gratitude for all those who made the move possible including several officials from Union Pacific and multiple men from the local area.

The crane and boom car, which are resting on the railroad tracks just north of the museum in Granby, will eventually be moved into position on the museum’s grounds. Naples said the next task is to construct four separate 39-foot railroad track panels that will allow the crane and car to be moved into place; each panel weighs 7,000 pounds.

The crane is especially historic in Grand County.

According to Naples, the crane obtained by the museum was the actual piece of equipment used in Grand County to help clear obstructions and wrecks that occurred on the rail line through Middle Park. During its operational life, the crane was stored at rail yards in Denver while not in use.

“They called it the big hook,” Naples said. “Dispatch would call in the big hook, grab the maintenance away crew and bring it up here.”

Naples welcomed local citizens to check out the crane and boom car at their current location behind the museum, but cautioned that no one should climb onto the equipment.

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