The Rocket Cars at the Pueblo Railway Museum

What are the "Rocket Cars"?

              The Rohr                       The Grumman                     The Garrett          


The Dilemma

After serving their duties in the 1970s* of validating their technologies and determining the costs for deploying the technologies, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Test Track donated the Rohr TACV, Grumman TACRV, and Garrett LIMRV vehicles to the City of Pueblo. The only facility large enough to accept possession of the vehicles was the newly formed Pueblo Aircraft Museum situated on city property at the Pueblo Airport. The vehicles remained at the aircraft Museum (now called the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum) until the 2000s when the museum needed to relocate the vehicles to make room for an additional hanger for preserving numerous aircraft that were suffering in the high-country weather of Pueblo, Colorado. While the Grumman and Garrett vehicles did not directly impact the Museum's expansion in 2008, the Rohr's location was directly in the path of the new hanger. Both the City of Pueblo (the property owner) and the Aircraft Museum approached the Pueblo Railway Museum to quickly accept possession of the Rohr or it would be scrapped.

A New Location.

For many years the Aircraft Museum had been requesting that the vehicles be acquired by the Railway Museum, but the Railway Museum did not have a location for the vehicles. In the mid-2000s, members of the Rio Grande Yard LLC acquired property near the Pueblo Railway Museum collection, and gave the Railway Museum permission to use the property and the building on the property.

Transfer of Possession.

While the new location was being determined, the Railway Museum had been working with the Aircraft Museum on the process to transfer the vehicles to Railway Museum. As often is the case, this looked easier to do than it was. Since the DOT had donated the vehicles to the City of Pueblo, they had become city property. Like doing a title search on an automobile, both museums needed to provide documentation of the DOT transfer, and the intention of both museums to transfer possession before the City could proceed with an official declaration**.

The First Deadline - The Rohr.

The Aircraft Museum was very successful in raising funds for the new hanger, and the City of Pueblo provided the approval to build the facility. But the approval came with a time-limit. Previously, the Garrett LIMRV had been loaned to an organization in Newcastle, PA for a research study. This removed it from the path of the heavy equipment that would be building the new hanger. Luckily, the Grumman's location adjacent to the northeast fence placed it out of the way of the construction. But, the Rohr was in the most danger of being lost to history since it was directly on the site of the new hanger. This caused the the Pueblo Railway Museum volunteers to accelerate the efforts for "saving the Rohr". But, this was not an easy nor inexpensive undertaking.

Rohr Funding.

While the Aircraft and Railway Museum are both 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, neither had the funds to pay for the transport of any of the 3 vehicles. Funds were provided as a loan from several Railway Museum members.

Locating a Trucking Company.

But luck took a sudden change of direction when the expected trucking company was unable to provide the transport. After many phone calls, a new company was located. The plus side was their experience and having the equipment involved in moving large pieces of equipment.

Lifting the Rohr.

To avoid any damage to the Rohr, a plan needed to be executed on how to lift the Rohr so it could be placed on and off the transport. This was especially challenging, but luck was with us as many engineering drawings had been stored inside the Rohr. A drawing was found on of the 4 lifting brackets used when the Rohr arrived at the Test Track and then later moved to the Aircraft Museum! Unfortunately, an extensive search of the storage rooms inside the Rohr, the Aircraft Museum archives, and the Test Track Facility could not find the actual brackets. Using the bracket drawings, the members of the Railway Museum donated their time and materials and fabricated the brackets! (These remain on the ROHR today!)

Facility Modifications.

It seemed all was gaining as planned: City declaration underway, lifting brackets being built, and a trucking company located. But, where to place the Rohr at the Railway facility was an unresolved issue. Again, through the help of the Railway Museum members, the fence line of the property was extended to accommodate the length of the Rohr, and then a concrete slab poured.

[To be continued]

*Articles about High Speed Rail efforts

** Pueblo City Council donates the Rohr and the Grumman to the Pueblo Railway Museum