Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR

Chama NM was located close to large coal and oil fields, and the D&RGW routed their new San Juan Extension through Chama in 1880 to haul the material out. It is also thought that this particular route was chosen to preclude the AT&SF from building lines into the lucrative Colorado mining areas (the track wars between the D&RGW and the AT&SF are legendary).   The San Juan Extension ran from Alamosa CO to Farmington NM, through Antonito CO, Chama NM and Durango CO, with several side tracks accessing mines and camps.

Business dwindled down through the '60s until in 1967 the D&RGW applied for abandonment of the narrow gauge San Juan Extension.  Everything from Antonito to Farmington was up for sale, the section from Alamosa to Antonito was dual gauged and was not part of the abandonment.  The states of Colorado and New Mexico created separate Railroad Authorities and jointly purchased the 64 miles of track and equipment from Antonito to Chama  in July 1970.  Only buyers for the Antonito to Chama and the Durango to Silverton sections were found so the rest of the Extension was lost, thus ending the D&RGW's narrow gauge history.  Numerous companies have operated the C&TS for the states over the years, the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec currently run the line as a nonprofit. 

You have a choice of riding from Chama NM to Antonito CO, or the other way if you prefer.  Another option is to ride half way and return.   Both trains meet in Osier CO for a one hour lunch stop, included in the ticket price.  The rolling stock returns to its origin after lunch, while the locomotives swap trains and continue through to the other end.  At the end you take a 45  minute bus ride back to your starting point.

Scenery ranges from flat sage country around Antonito, to heavy forests and mountains at Chama.  Everything on the Antonito end is new, except for the water tower.  The Chama yard is still mostly original, including one of the few remaining wooden coaling towers and a double spouted water tower.  The original 6 bay roundhouse was reduced to 2 bays by the D&RGW. 

Equipment is in good shape, service is good.

Locomotive Power

The C&TS owns three varieties of old Denver & Rio Grande Western outside-frame 2-8-2 Mikado engines.

Engine type: K-27

K-36 

K-37
Engine numbers (note 1): 463 483, 484, 487, 488, 489 492, 494, 495, 497
Builder: Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin
Year built: 1903 1925 note 2
Wheel Arrangement:  2-8-2  2-8-2  2-8-2
Weight of locomotive (lbs): 140,250 187,100 187,250
Weight of tender - loaded (lbs): 83,000 99,500 99,500
Total weight (lbs): 223,550 286,600 307,250
Weight on drivers (lbs): 108,300 143,850 148,280
Driver diameter (inch): 40 44 44
Cylinder (inch): 17 x 22 20 x 24 20 x 24
Superheated: Yes Yes Yes
Total heating surface (sq ft): 1,526 2,118 2,159
Steam pressure (psi): 200 195 200
Tractive effort (lbs): 27,000 36,200 37,100
Water (gallon): 4,100 5000 6000
Coal (ton): 8.5 9.5 9

(1) 483 out of service, stored in the Chama yard;  494, 495 out of service - on display in Antonito

(2) Built by Baldwin in 1902 as standard gauge 2-8-0's.  In 1928 & 1930 they were rebuilt into narrow gauge 2-8-2's in the D&RGW's Burnham Shops at Denver.

Diesel power is provided by #19, a 44-ton General Electric switcher built in 1943, originally owned by Oahu Railway in Hawaii.  It is a B+B wheel arrangement, with two 180 hp diesel engines.  Tractive effort is 22,000 lbs.  It was originally called 'The Pineapple" by the Chama crews, it is now know as the "Bumble Bee".  It is used for both yard duty and the occasional chartered run.

Rolling Stock

Most of the passenger cars are converted flat cars, built in Chama.  There are a variety of coaches, parlor, observation, and cabooses.  The yard is full of tank cars, stock cars, box cars, etc., most of it is in very good, usable condition, others are awaiting heavy restoration.  Lots of interesting maintenance of way equipment, to include a Jordan Ditcher, flangers and a derrick

Rotary Snowplow

The C&TS owns two rotary plows built by Cooke Locomotive Works.  Rotary OM was built in 1889 and is needing some repair.  Rotary OY was built in 1923 and is operational, being used on occasion to open the line in the spring.  Both saw heavy use when the D& RGW ran the line year-round.  These rotaries are not self propelled, rather they have to be pushed along the line by one or more engines.  The steam engine in the rotary only powers the plow blade.  A crew of three is required: two qualified locomotive engineers to coordinate forward movement of the plow and control the snow deflector, and a fireman to keep the boiler stoked.

I visited the C&TSRR in July 2006 and Sept 2009.  I saw few changes, other than 489 was out of the shop and 463 was in the shop.   492 is being stripped for work and 483 has been moved to the shop area.  I did not see 497, though she is still listed on their web site. 

These photos are sequenced from Chama to Antonito.

thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail
thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail
thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail
thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail
thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail
thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail
thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail
thumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnailthumbnail

LightBox 2 Album created with JAlbum

More info: Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Trains   Home

Copyright Notice:

This website and its content is copyrighted W Berglin 2001 - 2013. All rights reserved.
Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:

- you may print or download material for your personal use
- you may use material from this website for non-commercial use if you acknowledge this website as the material's source

You may not, except with my express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.