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Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

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At 64 miles the Cumbres & Toltec on the border between Colorado & New Mexico is the longest heritage railway in the United States. New Mexico & Colorado purchased the line and most of the locos and stock when the Rio Grande shut down narrow gauge freight operation in 1969.

 

The railway basically climbs at 4% (1:25) for approximately 10 miles from Chama to Cumbres Pass (10,022ft), before descending on an easier gradient to Antonio

 

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"Mudhen" K27 463 descending Cumbres with the 1st Westbound train on 2016 (May 28)

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463 approaching Chama

The K27s were the first of the Rio Grande narrow gauge 2-8-2s most were withdrawn or converted to switch engines following the introduction of the larger K36 & K37 Class 2-8-2 in the 1930s

 

The Cumbres & Toltec coaches were built in house on converted standard gauge freight car underframes as the majority of the Rio Grande car fleet was in use on the Silverton line.

 

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K36 489 waiting to depart Chama for Cumbres and Antonio May 30th

Chama has retained most of its original infrastructure including depot & freight house, loco shed and coal stage, freight yard, oil and livestock stock loading facilities. The Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec have restored a representive selection of freight stock including repatriating oil tank cars exported to the White Pass & Ukon when the oil traffic ceased in the 1960s

 

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489 climbing the 4% to Cumbres

 

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Fire train following Eastbound!

 

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Windy Point from HW 17 Crossing

 

 

It gets a bit more challenging to maintain a max 4% grade on the final approach to Cumbres Pass the highway and railroad loop around approx. 180° between the final grade crossing and Windy Point (best described as the rim of a Mexicans sombrero) and the summit

 

[video=youtube;w-D00hywkBY]

 

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Inspection and water stop at Cumbres Pass

 

During the final years of freight operation the east bound load out of Chama to Cumbres was limited to approx. 20 cars with large 2-8-2 road locomotive and pusher. 1st day was spent working train in 3 or 4 sections to the summit where cars were combined into a 60-70 and worked eastwards singleheaded to Antonio and Alamosa on the 2nd day.

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[video=youtube;aU4hd9en-Zg]

 

A westbound 2 engine photo charter freight over most of the line from Antonio to Cumbres Summit. Freight cars are cut in between the two locos to spread the load over trestles. The pipe gondolas and idler cars are typical of traffic in the late 50s 60s when the railroad carried in materials to construct pipelines from the local oil fields

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The C&T has a great feel of the old West, the open range, the four legged and iron horse.

 

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Sheep on the open range approaching Lobato (Wolf) Creek Trestle

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iron Horses at Chama

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View from the Saloon

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Going home from the Saloon HW 17 Chama

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