In September and October 2007 I had the chance to head out west and ride two of the narrow gauge railroads in the Southwest.
On Saturday September 29, 2007 I was able to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad that runs from Chama, New Mexico to Antonito, Colorado. The narrow gauge railroad runs through some very scenic areas plus it climbs some pretty tough grades. The day we rode we left Chama with a steam doubleheader. With a full train of passengers the doubleheader was necessary to make it up some of the stiff grades coming out of Chama up to Cumbres. Click Here to see Photos from Cumbres & Toltec
On Sunday September 30, 2007 I got the chance to ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. When we left Durango, Colorado the temperature was only 31, but it was sunny and stayed that way the rest of the trip. The scenery on the Durango & Silverton is FANTASTIC. Plus when the train winds through the Vallay of the Lost Souls it is a sight to see. The town of Silverton is also a great place to visit. With alot of its western flair still in place it is a great place to eat lunch and spend some time before returning to Durango.
#487 our locomotive for the trip steams in the early morning at Chama, NM
#484 the helper for our trip gets a fill up of water in Chama, NM
#487 gets topped off with coal
#484 sits by the old coaling tower which unfortunately is not used anymore.
#484 gets topped off with coal for its helper assignment
Our doubleheader is coupled together and ready to pull the train out of Chama
Doubleheader back together after crossing Lobato Trestle. Weight restrictions allow only one loco on the bridge at a time
Doubleheader working hard to climb the sometimes 4% grade up to Cumbres at over 10,000ft
After being cutoff the #484 sits on the wye track at Cumbres
A good old fashioned cattle drive on the plain. Any cattle left behind could die due to the large amounts of snow in the valley
At Osier the lunch stop. The east and westbound trains meet and are serviced while passengers enjoy an all-u-can eat lunch of turkey or meatloaf
Ready to depart the westbound train waits for the dining passengers to finish up dessert and head west for Antonito
#488 from the eastbound train passes on its way to the water tower.
Some scenery from the train. The Toltec Gorge just starting to see the Aspens turning to bright yellow
More scenes from the train. Splashes of yellow are the Aspens starting to turn. Unfortunately a cloudy day hid the sun and the bright colors
Getting closer to Antonito a lone water tower stands sentinel trackside
Arriving in Antonito, CO to a light drizzle the ride was complete. Now the bus ride back to Chama, NM
Back in Chama a doubleheader was ready for a Photo Special set to start that evening.
The depot at Durango, CO. The temperature on this sunny day was 31 degrees.
We would be riding in the open gondola. It was cool for the first part of the trip, but eventually it warmed up and the jackets came off.
Some beautiful scenery not to far out of Durango, CO
"Riding the Rim" as the train nears the bridge over the Los Animos River.
Still on the edge of the cliff the narrow gauge train eases through
The locomotive "blows down" as it crosses the trestle over the Los Animos River and the Valley of the Lost Souls
After coming down from the cliffs much of trip runs alongside the river with great scenery
Stunning scenery from the train to Silverton, CO
Words at times can't describe the beauty of the area
Coming into Silverton, CO an abandoned mine greets the train
The trains pretty much pull up right onto Main Street in Silverton, CO Then it will back out and be turned and serviced
Main Street in Silverton, CO it is also the only paved one in town.
More spectacular scenery from the return trip to Durango, CO
All in All both the Cumbres & Toltec and Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge railroads were definitely worth a visit and a ride. They both have there own personalities and specialites. If one is ever out to the southwest part of the USA make sure to visit these living and breathing museums of narrow gauge railroading.
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All Photos above were taken by Keith Schmidt Copyright 2007
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