Sunrise at Lava Tank. A Denver & Rio Grande Western freight making an early morning run from Alamosa to Chama charges through the loop at Lava Tank as the sun peeks over the hills to the east. Of course, getting a shot like this back in the old D&RGW freight days would have required a long hike and an enormous amount of luck. With a photo charter, there's just a tad more under the control of the photographer...lol. The location pictured here is really quite remote. Lava Tank situated at the apex of a loop of track located on top of a lava-capped mesa...hence the name "Lava Tank". Back in the day, this tank got its water supply from the Rio de Los Pinos, about a mile to the southeast of this location and about 500 feet lower in elevation. A pump house located along the river pumped water up to the tank location. Like many of the historic structures on this line, Lava Tank is no longer used....except as a prop for dramatic photos! The original tank that stood here during the D&RGW era was actually destroyed by a fire in 1971. The tank on the site now was formerly located at Antonito, CO, but was dismantled and brought here to replace the tank lost in the fire. Lost in the history books someplace, is a clear, concise explanation as to how a water tank could be destroyed by fire!
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.