Miracles happen here. Here's a rare look inside the Chama Shop building, where the steam locomotives that serve the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad are serviced and maintained. The railroad operates four of the mightly K-36 engines, all of which are 87 years old. From May until October each year, these engines charge up the 4% grade to Cumbres Pass on a daily basis with their tourist trains, arguably working just as hard as they did back in the days when freight paid the bills. As you might imagine, when you push these old machines that hard, things break. Over the years, the crew in Chama has spent many a long night, knowing that if they didn't pull off a miracle, there would be no train to Antonito in the morning. Time and time again, they make it happen. Among the guys who've worked here, there are enough miracles to make a few dozen saints. On this night, things are quiet. The 488, which worked a photo freight earlier in the day, now sits on the south side of the house. She has just been washed and will shortly come inside, where she will be greased and oiled. When that's done, she'll come out on the north side, where the night hostlers will take care of her until dawn...when her fire will be cleaned, and she'll be watered and coaled for another trip up the mountain.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are all that remains of the legendary Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge system. Here you'll find some of my favorites from these two beautiful railways.