Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

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Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
Posted by Yard Limit on Saturday, October 07, 2017 6:56 AM

The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad was originally part of the San Juan Extension of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.   D&RG also pushed west from Walsenburg, Colorado over La Veta Pass by 1877. At the time the 'Uptop' depot on La Veta Pass, rising over 9,500 feet  in elevation, boasted the highest elevation for a narrow-gauge railroad. The railroad reached Alamosa by 1878. From Alamosa, a line was pushed south through Antonito eventually reaching as far south as Santa Fe, New Mexico, and west as far as Creede, Colorado. 
From Antonito a line was built over the 10,015 foot Cumbres Pass, along the Colorado-New Mexico border, reaching Durango, Colorado in August 1881 and continuing north to the rich mining areas around Silverton in July 1882. A line was also constructed in 1902 as a standard-gauge line, perhaps in anticipation of possible standard gauging of the entire line, south from Durango, Colorado to Farmington, New Mexico. Originally hauling mainly agricultural products and serving as a deterrent to the Santa Fe building up from the south, the line was converted to narrow gauge in 1923, and later delivered pipe and other construction materials to the local oil and natural gas industry into the 1960s.
The Sherman Act in 1893 had a devastating effect on the silver mining industry and traffic over the San Juan Extension failed to warrant conversion to standard gauge.  Over the ensuing decades it became an isolated anachronism, receiving its last major upgrades in equipment and infrastructure in the 1920s. A post-World War II natural gas boom brought a brief period of prosperity to the line, but operations dwindled to a trickle in the 1960s. 
Portions of the Alamosa-Durango Line survive to this day. The Walsenburg-Alamosa-Antonito line survives as the standard-gauge San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad, with passenger excursion trains provided by the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. Two narrow-gauge segments survive as steam railroads, the Antonito-Chama line as the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad and Durango-Silverton as the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Glen Brewer, a renowned railroad historian, visited Chama in 1965 and took these wonderful photographs which he has been kind enough to let us use.  The structures and much of the rolling stock seen in these pictures are still present today.
It’s an early fall morning in Chama New Mexico and the crews are getting Engine 489 ready for its run to Antonito, Colorado.  After filling the tender with water, the engine backs down to the switch and moves forward to the coal pile.  A front end loader tops off the tender and the engine is backed up to the passenger cars and coupled.  At precisely 10 AM, the train departs east for its journey to Antonito.

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 12:35 PM

Great video.

Significant birthday next year.  

Note to self: 2018 WILL be the year to get to C. & T. S.

Thanks Yard Limit for giving me the push.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, October 07, 2017 1:42 PM

And you will completely enjoy it. The ride which ever you choose is fantastic. They give you or did at the times I been good Access to yard. I spent a good 4 hours walking thier yards.  You can get up close and personal when taking pictures of the train. I always spend a day chasing the trains. Plenty of good locations to get the pictures you want. If you can make time to see it, I urge you too.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, October 07, 2017 8:37 PM

The place labeled Osier looks like Cumbres.

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Posted by Yard Limit on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 11:18 AM
Thank you. You're really going to enjoy it!
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Posted by Yard Limit on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 11:19 AM
Access to the yard is definitely true. I asked one of the switchmen if I could move to a different location to shoot and he said I could go anywhere I wanted as long as I didn't get in the engine! Can you imagine that anywhere else?
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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 11:51 AM

Yard Limit
Access to the yard is definitely true. I asked one of the switchmen if I could move to a different location to shoot and he said I could go anywhere I wanted as long as I didn't get in the engine! Can you imagine that anywhere else?
 

 I got thier about six am Walked the round house area, watch as they prepare and service the locomotives, got great shots of the the inbound and outbound trains. Then walk the entire yard taking pictures of freight and passenger cars not in use.  ( All at no charge ). It's a rail fans Paradise.

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Posted by wrrsends1 on Monday, October 16, 2017 5:06 PM

I've ridden it twice - once mid summer and in late Sep, late Sep is the better time.  On the Sep ride we were double headed and the track was slick from interrmittent rain/freezing rain and sanders on one of the locos wasn't working well.  On most of the Left turns under load there would be a lot of wheel slip really made for a great narrow gauge railroad adventure.  Reccomend this ride for every Train buff.

 

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Posted by CandTS Volunteer on Monday, October 16, 2017 10:16 PM

Great work on blending the scenes and the sound.  Beautiful weather for your video and well-planned shots.  Only issue was that you labeled the Cumbres Section House, standpipe, and highway crossing as Osier twice.

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Posted by Sunnyland on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 6:00 PM

I rode C&TS this past June from Antonito to Chama with friends. What an awesome ride. I was the only one who had also been on D&S when it was still owned by D&RGW in 1970 and this was more impressive.  D&S High Line is spectacular, but C&TS has more wide open vistas spread out across the horizon.  I recommend it to any railfan or steam fan.  What a ride !!!

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 1:00 AM

Responding to the first posting, the standard gauge of the Durango - Farmington line was in anticipation of connecting to an AT&SF branch projected to Farmington.  But the AT&SF really planned to go all the way to Durango.  When the D&RGW built their line, the AT&SF abandoned their project, and then the D&RGW converted the standard gauge line to narrow.

That is my understanding if my memory is correct.

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Posted by Muralist0221 on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:44 PM

Rode it three years ago. The Durango Narrow Guage is heaven, the Cumbres was beyond heaven. While sticking my head out the window, thought I was stung by a bee. Turned out to be a cinder. Later, wiped my forehead, towel was black from soot. Those were the best parts of the trip. The volunteers and engineer bent over backwards to make the trip enjoyable. The engineer explained they used 7000 gallons of water to go 60 miles. No wonder the railroads dieselized.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Friday, October 20, 2017 7:02 PM

   Muralist, one of the best parts of the trip was getting burned by a cinder?   Actually, I understand fully.   One of these days, I've got to get out there.

_____________

   My mind's made up.   Don't confuse me with the facts.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 5:24 PM

daveklepper

Responding to the first posting, the standard gauge of the Durango - Farmington line was in anticipation of connecting to an AT&SF branch projected to Farmington.  But the AT&SF really planned to go all the way to Durango.  When the D&RGW built their line, the AT&SF abandoned their project, and then the D&RGW converted the standard gauge line to narrow.

That is my understanding if my memory is correct.

 

My understanding was that the line was built partially on the right of way staked out by the other railroad.  The line was built to try to keep the other railroad out of D&RG's "territory".  They thought if the matter went to court and they lost, they would have to abandon the line.  If they built it standard gauge, they thought they might be able to recoup their money by selling the line.

I would have to pull out my books, but I think the other railroad was an SP subsidiary, not ATSF.  I recall reading no one actually knew if the proposed line was actually going to be built or just a feint, but after EHH* died the project withered away.  Eventually the line was converted to narrow gauge.

Jeff

*EHH in this case is Harriman, not Harrison.

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Posted by nyc#25 on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 7:19 AM

Where do the Cumbres & Toltec and Durango & Silverton buy their coal?

Tags: coal
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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 8:30 PM

I wonder if they are still getting their coal from the mines in Monero, along an abandoned part of the line west of Chama?

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