A Ride on the Cumbres & Toltec

September 2007 – A Ride on the Cumbres & Toltec

In September, 2007, while on a rail odyssey out west visiting family and friends, my wife and I spent two days riding the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Here's a narrative of the trip, along with some of the better photographs.

The trip started here at Antonito station on a sunny September morning.

This is our train.

Our loco - a D&RGW K-36 2-8-2.

The business end of the K-36's power train.

The clattering old air compressor that adorns the side of Number 487.

And we're off!

What a gorgeous day for an open gondola ride! We streaked along at 15-20 miles per hour most of the way, with occasional bursts of speed to about 28 mph.

Welcome to New Mexico! We crossed the state line back and forth about eleven times on our way to Chama.

As we begin climbing into the mountains, we see more and more rock cuts. This was a small one.

Trailing along behind us was this speeder, towing a small water car. His job was to put out any hot spots our loco's cinders might cause, before it can become a full-fledged forest fire!

An absolutely gorgeous day! This is what heaven must be like.

The re-created little hamlet of Sublette.

Get those heads inside! Tunnel!

We're now approaching Osier, where the train coming from Chama meets ours. The Chama train is already here waiting.

Everyone is treated to lunch at Osier - it's part of the ticket price. The food was amazingly good.

After lunch, as our train begins to move, we pass by Osier station.

A bit further on down the track and we come to Cumbres Pass, the highest point on the rail line - over 10,000 feet in elevation!

The scenery was pretty spectacular from up here!

Just in case ya thought the last shot was a fluke.


The big white puff of steam over the car is a toot on the whistle in progress.

A look at the right side running gear.

Blowing down again, and leaving a rainbow in its wake. Something poetic about that, isn't there?

Dropping out of the mountain now. Chama is getting closer.

Look familiar? Young Indiana Jones swung from the horizontal pipe in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." The structure was built just for the movie - it isn't historic (at least, not to the railroad).

We've arrived in Chama, and the soon-to-be-setting sun casts slanted rays on the Chama yard.

The next morning we're getting ready to leave Chama for the return to Antonito. This loco wasn't our motive power - it was just sitting there making us think it would be. We'd have good ol' 487 on the head end again.

Our ride for the day - the Parlour Car! Tickets are more expensive for this little extra, but it sure added a touch of class to the trip back.

Hangin' out at Chama station, waiting for the call to board. How many times was this repeated in the past?

We're on our way, and sure enough there's our friendly little water speeder, trundling along behind.

From the back of the Parlour Car I got great views of where we had just been.

This was a really comfortable way to ride!

We just passed this water tower. Apparently the loco wasn't thirsty yet.

The Colorado Rockies are sure pretty!

The lower line outside the window is a highway. The upper one is where we'll be going.

We're back at Cumbres Pass again.

As we take on water, our speeder pulls up close behind.

Another blowdown! The crew does this when the loco needs it, but I think they also try to do it where they'll put on the best show for all us tourists.

Maintenance goes on constantly in the summer. Here's some new ballast.

A great view of the right side of the train.

We're passing over the tallest trestle on the line.

Approaching Osier from the other side. Time for another great meal!

Hmpf! Didn't anyone check the coupler heights?!

WOW! Talk about different eras! As we waited at the train after lunch, suddenly this high-tech C-130 passes a few hundred feet over our 1930s train!

The train leaving Osier in the other direction.

Almost close enough to scrape the paint off!

We'll be popping out of this tunnel in just a few seconds.

Oooo! Scenery!

Ooooo! More scenery!

We'll be on the track down there in about 15 minutes.

Back at the station in Antonito, Colorado. This is my late wife, who hated having her picture taken. Sadly, she passed away in late 2015.

And this is the friend from Colorado Springs who went with us on this adventure into yesteryear.

We're back in Antonito, and I got a chance to wave goodbye from the cab! What a fun trip that was!