When starting on a grade, trains will often times use sand to help them gain traction and start (or keep) moving. Engines have nozzles that aim right between the wheel and the rail and can blast sand out at the point where they meet. Due to the 2.3% grade at the east end of Minturn, nearly every train would need sand to help it start rolling. So much sand, in fact, that there is still plenty of evidence of it along the siding twenty years later!
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