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Steam Over Cumbres

Steam Over Cumbres

This premium restoration railroad crosses the border of Colorado and New Mexico 11 times climbing to the top of 10,015-foot Cumbres Pass, the highest point reached by any steam railroad in North America.Step back 50 years and learn more about this amazing preservation effort to save Rio Grande narrow gauge steam in the Rockies. Steam Over Cumbres includes brand-new stories looking at this beautiful restored national landmark.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
R 149,75

in this issue

1 min
chasing rainbows & time

2020 MARKS a major anniversary in the history of American railway preservation, the seemingly unachievable 50th anniversary of the famed Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. A legacy from the Rio Grande’s vast narrow gauge empire, the C&TS is a magnificent gem with many facets: • A glimpse into mountain railroading 100 years ago. • A living time capsule of the American West. • A true national treasure. TRAINS magazine covered the end of the Rio Grande’s freight operations and the beginning of the C&TS. We’ve recorded good times and bad. We’re delighted to offer this collection of photos and stories from a half-century of our pages. We’re equally excited to bring the story forward with the restoration of Ten-Wheeler No. 168 and the operation of rotary OY. And we eagerly look forward to the…

10 min
cumbres freight finale

Following World War II, the Denver & Rio Grande Western accelerated plans to abandon its remaining narrow gauge lines in the Rocky Mountains as soon as possible. The growing popularity of tourist trains on the Silverton Branch, along with increasing traffic generated by the significant expansion of the oil and gas fields in northwest New Mexico delayed the abandonment of the San Juan Extension from Alamosa, Colo., to Durango, Colo., and the branch to Farmington, N.M. Indeed, as described by Philip R. Hastings in the April 1956 issue of Trains magazine, by the mid-1950s narrow gauge trains hauling oil field supplies to Farmington via Cumbres Pass and Durango were running on a 24/7 basis all year round, even in the dead of winter. It all came to an end in…

9 min
the nation's newest narrow gauge

IT WAS A COMBINATION OF a carnival and a happening. The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad’s narrow gauge line, for which permission to abandon had been received on July 14, 1969, came back to life. A group of railroad fans with little organization and little practical experience in railroad operation fumbled through and got the line running again. On July 16, 1970, the Rio Grande Railroad gave deeds to the state railroad authorities of Colorado and New Mexico for 64 miles of 3-foot-gauge track between Antonito, Colo., and Chama, N. Mex., in exchange for $547,120. Included in the sale were nine locomotives and 130 pieces of rolling stock. Soon afterward, a group of about two dozen volunteers set to work clearing rockslides from the line, for the trackage had not seen…

3 min
since the first run…

After the first operations of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad on Labor Day weekend 1970, No. 483 moved equipment over Cumbres Pass to Chama on succeeding weekends and some weekdays until October 21. Equipment often was moved in relays. No. 483 would take a dead engine and several cars, drop them off at Big Horn, Sublette, or Toltec, and go back for another load. Then, usually on a Sunday, the engine would run all the way from Antonito to Chama, picking up equipment set out on the sidings en route, and tie up in Chama for the rest of the week. When operations ceased, junker locomotives 494 and 495 and rotary OY, along with 6 gondola cars, had been left behind in Antonito. Because of the difficulty encountered in moving…

15 min
saving the cumbres

ON A COLD, SNOWY DAY LAST DECEMBER, Terri Shaw stood on a bluff above a small New Mexico town and gazed down. Blissfully ignoring the swirling snow, she smiled to herself as she looked at yard tracks filled with narrow gauge freight cars, steam locomotives huddled around a brick enginehouse, and a passenger station with its lights on. “Isn’t it magnificent?” she asked, not really caring if her visitors agreed or not. Who would dare disagree? Below that bluff is the largest collection of Rocky Mountain narrow gauge railroad equipment on the face of the Earth, at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, N.M. And this is no static display, but a real railroad 64 miles long. Shaw, as president of the all-volunteer Friends of the C&TS, had spent her…

1 min
saving the chama coal tipple

Long an icon of western narrow gauge railroading, the Chama, N.M., coal tipple was the recipient of the 2005 Trains Magazine Preservation Award. The annual $10,000 grant went to the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Inc. to make repairs that will ensure the 1924 structure’s survival. It also launched a long-term effort to return the tipple to use for special events in servicing the Mikados that powered Denver & Rio Grande Western’s vast 3-foot-gauge network. The Friends’ project was chosen from among 59 applicants. The tipple was the last major structure constructed in the Chama yard, built to service the K-36 and K-37 steam locomotives that brought the railroad into the era of modern steam power and remain today on the preservation railroad. The Rio Grande used the…