Bruce A. Collins

Bruce Collins developed an interest in railroads early on, playing with his grandfather’s basement tinplate empire, watching the Lehigh Valley’s westbound Black Diamond Express during its daily stop at the Geneva, NY, depot, and especially during hours of watching mainline Pennsylvania Railroad late steam and diesel assaulting the first significant hill between Chicago and Pittsburgh through his home town of Wooster, Ohio. After obtaining that most precious of all documents, a driver’s license, he spent endless hours at Big Run Tower, the “armstrong” interlocking plant at the base of Wooster Hill. His interest in narrow gauge was piqued by the long-abandoned right-of-way of the Ohio River & Western nearby and, fascinated by pictures and stories of the fabled (and then-far-away) Rio Grande 3-ft empire, he wrote an in-depth paper on the then-present state of the D&RGW slim gauge for his history minor at the College of Wooster in 1964.

Traveling west to Golden, Colorado, for graduate work at the Colorado School of Mines, Bruce spent, in his words, “More time at the Colorado Railroad Museum than on M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geology combined.” With Robert W. Richardson as a mentor, he developed a deep and abiding appreciation of the work that was accomplished by the pioneer railroaders and miners of the Rockies. Bruce’s hands-on experience with the iron ponies of the Rio Grande narrow gauge led naturally to an interest in its history that only grows as time goes on.

With a 25-year career in the coal mostly behind him, Bruce now concentrates on minerals evaluations and other studies for conservation easements and open-space acquisitions. He lives with his wife Betty near Silt, Colorado (opposite m.p. 380.0 on the ex-Rio Grande main line). Daughter Bethany is a research lab technician in Boulder and son Brian is a high-tech equipment installation and service technician based in Telluride, although he lives in Montrose.


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