Seeking relief, if only for a while, from the current depressing news, the following put a smile on my face and brought back pleasant memories.
My late father was a Section Foreman for the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad for ten years during my early childhood. The constant cutbacks in personnel and seven moves in those ten years lead him to leap at the chance to get back into ranching and horses.
It was fun to be a kid along the tracks doing things few other kids ever had a chance to do.
Somewhere around 1952 my parents took a trip to the San Luis Valley area. A that time the line over Cumbers Pass was a working line for the D&RG. As we climbed the pass in our car, we saw two steam locomotives nose to nose on the tracks. One had derailed the front guide wheels and the crews were attempting to pull it back on the tracks. All they had to work with was a large rope they had around a tree above the derailed engine. Each time the other engine would back up, the derailed wheels would almost go back on the tracks. Then the rope would break.
We watched for close to an hour. They would tie the broken ends together and try again. Same result. Finally the rope was too short for them to use so we drove on. My father was enjoying himself immensely. Someone else in the shit instead of him. I’m sure it took a lot of restraint on his part not to climb down and offer his advice. Maybe the steep snow covered incline and wearing cowboy boots was a factor.
The Cumbers and Toltec is the only one still operating with coal. The more well known Durango to Silverton is steam but diesel fired. The Georgetown Loop operates both steam and diesel. They also use Shay type locomotives.
In addition to the Cumbers and Toltec, a train runs from Alamosa over LaVeta Pass to Walsenburg using 50’s vintage diesels and passenger cars. They occasionally run steam engines when they can keep them repaired.
A diner train runs through the Royal Gorge from Canyon City to Salida and back on the mothballed Tennessee Pass route.
There are others. If you are a rail buff you can make a great vacation around them.
Still not sated? Visit the model railroad museum on your way to the Union Pacific Museum in Cheyenne.
Hope you enjoyed this little diversion. I know I enjoyed putting it together.
On my bucket list is to ride the Amtrak California Zephyr from Denver to Emeryville. I only want to do it when I can afford a sleeping cabin. I'm way to old to sleep in a seat, even if it reclines.