Giving Tuesday

Posted by Justin Franz
on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Signs like the one at Dalton help preserve the historic feel of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic and it wouldn't be possible without volunteers. Photo by Justin Franz.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic has long been on my list of “must see” railroad attractions. This fall, I finally had the chance to visit the railroad and within a few minutes of arriving on the property, I came to understand why so many love it.

Watching a Denver & Rio Grande Western K-36 storm up Cumbres Pass with a freight train, I had to wonder if it could get any better and if the C&TS was the pinnacle American railroad preservation. But it’s not just those epic scenes of a hard-working steam locomotive working on a mountain grade that makes the Cumbres such a special place. Sprinkled around the yard at Chama, New Mexico and along the 64 miles of mountain railroad are little details that transform the old Rio Grande into a steam-powered time machine. Things like the restored section buildings at Sublette and the repainted station signs along the right-of-way make it appear as if the old Rio Grande never left.

None of those signs and building would exist without the hard work of the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic. While in Antonito, Colorado, I got a chance to see the Friends’ restoration facility and came to appreciate just how much work the group does. While the railroad itself works to maintain locomotives and revenue-producing rolling stock, the Friends group busies itself with projects to help maintain the railroad’s historic character like rebuilding a working pile-driver or restoring an oil loading facility at Chama. During the group’s annual summer work weeks, numerous volunteers head out into the mountains to restore and repair dozens of historic signs and mile markers.  

Each and everyone of us that goes out and enjoys the fruits of that labor owe a debt of gratitude to those hardworking volunteers. As I wrote last year, it’s up to us to support these efforts and days like “Giving Tuesday” are a prime opportunity to do just that with a donation to your favorite preservation effort.

Here are a few of the groups whose hard work I enjoyed in the last year or so and was sure to support. Share some of your favorites in the comments below and don’t forget to donate.

Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic

Friends of SP 4449

The Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad/Brooks Preservation Society

Center for Railroad Photography and Art

Nevada Northern Railway

Wiscasset Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum

Colorado Railroad Museum

Market Street Railway

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