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Cumbres Toltec Railroad End of the Line – My Shot of the Day – September 3, 2013

cumbres toltec railroad

Cumbres Toltec Railroad

I mentioned in the MY SHOT of the Day from Sunday that kids and I rode the Cumbres Toltec Railroad Friday with my father and his wife at the end of last week. The ride is just a blast and I’ll have a little photo essay about this ride on the Cumbres Toltec Railroad and a little reminisce on the time I walked along the Cumbres Toltec Railroad tracks for four days from Chama, New Mexico to Antonito.

Coming up ASAP.

The Cumbres and Toltec is highly regarded by both railfans and historians due to its relative authenticity and surviving historic fabric. Chama houses one of the most physically complete railroad yards from the steam era in the US. Although portions of the roundhouse, warehouses, and parking lots have been changed, the railroad yard has the ambiance of pre-1960 railroad operations. The yard tracks contain authentic rolling stock and structures of the Denver and Rio Grande indigenous to the railroad line.

All the steam locomotives at the C&TS were built for and operated their entire careers for the Denver and Rio Grande Western. All 2-8-2 Mikados, these range from the relatively small K-27 “Mudhen”, #463, once owned by Gene Autry, to the large K-37s, originally built as standard gauge locomotives. The mainstays are the venerable K-36 fleet, produced by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925. The only two Surviving D&RGW rotary snowplows are onsite and both have operated for the C&TS.

As Denver & Rio Grande Railroad San Juan Extension, the railway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The boundaries of the NRHP listed area were increased in 2007.

The railroad was featured extensively in the 1969 film The Good Guys and the Bad Guys, and was used in the opening sequence of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.

We started from and returned to the little Colorado town of Antonito. Antonito is one of the two home bases of the Cumbres Toltec Railroad. It is an all day ride and we were exhausted at the end of the it so we took a room at the Narrow Gauge Railroad Inn.  Given that Taos and home was only an hour drive away, it was probably a mistake.  While the owners were extremely nice people the other guests were hell-bent on a party.  I’m not much one for parties anyway but I dont really care if anyone else wants to party.  Unless that is, I’m trying to sleep.

I took this photograph of a large storm that built to the west just before sunset and used this technique to get the shot I wanted.

The people on either side and down below waited until about 10pm to start partying. A bunch of others joined in.  I asked them several times to stop given that I had two kids trying to sleep and they would drift into thier rooms politely…only to drift back out again 15-20 minutes later.  By 2am they were fighting down in the parking lot.  The owners of the hotel could care less.  Isabella laid in her bed and said several times…we should have just gone camping for tonight.  Spot on girl.

Of course Ilan slept through it all. I was jealous.

We will definately be back on the Cumbres Toltec Railroad…and then we will find a nice little patch of grass somewhere in the aspens for our tent.



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