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On a cloudy afternoon, we catch C&TSR 484 arriving at Cumbres Pass and then making its way down the grade to Chama, New Mexico.
The Denver and Rio Grande Western K-36 class are ten 3 ft. narrow gauge, Mikado type, 2-8-2 steam locomotives built for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (DRGW) by Baldwin Locomotive Works. They were shipped to the Rio Grande in 1925, and were first used along the Monarch Branch and Marshall Pass, but were later sent to the Third Division out of Alamosa. Of the original ten, four are owned by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG) and five by the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS). Number 485 fell into the turntable pit at Salida and was scrapped in Pueblo in 1955, with many parts being saved.
The locomotives are of outside-frame design, with the driving wheels placed between the two chassis frames which support the boiler, but with the cylinders, driving rods, counterweights and valve gear on the outside. This general arrangement is shared with the earlier K-27, K-28 and later K-37 Mikado engines. The K-36s were used primarily as freight locomotives out of Alamosa to Durango, and to Farmington, New Mexico, as well as out of Salida to Gunnison (over Marshall Pass) until 1955 and to Monarch on the Monarch Branch until 1956. They were built with special valves to allow brake control between locomotives while double-heading, and were commonly found between Alamosa and Chama, New Mexico. They were heavily used during the pipe boom in Farmington, and hauled long freight trains between Alamosa and Farmington.
In 1937, 3 K-36s, 482, 483, and 489, were equipped with steam heat and signal lines to haul passenger trains like the Shavano and the San Juan Express. Eventually in 1945, 484, 485, and 488, were also equipped, too.
 


On August 3, 2019, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in conjunction with the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec and the Durango Historical Society ran a photo train from Antonito, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico.
D&RGW 315 was built in 1868 and restored by the DHS between 2001 and 2007. It is on loan to the C&TSR until 2022 where it is used on special excursion trains such as this one.
Special thanks to Stathi Pappas, Director of Special Projects on the C&TSR for talking to us about 315 and many other things that the Special Projects group is working on!
The opening was shot at Osier, Colorado while we were waiting for 315 to arrive. Typical of the mountains, thunderstorms developed, rain and hail poured down, and we left before the train arrived. The road to Osier is ten miles of rocky, rutted, dirt road that becomes problematic in rain. It was still wonderful hanging out there and enjoying the peace. Cowboys herded their cows up a distant hillside and watching the storms develop was interesting.
Later that afternoon we went back to Cumbres Pass and shot video of it passing through the forests and meadows. Thousands of sheep were grazing, watched over by a lonely cowboy on his horse and his two trusty dogs.
As Stathi says, everything about this railroad has much good flavor!
 


The Siemens Chargers return to New Mexico on the eastbound Southwest Chief. Seen in Lamy on August 1, 2019, these engines are being tested providing power for the first time on Amtrak 4.

 

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