Water for a thirsty horse. A Denver & Rio Grande Western K-36 brings her freight to a halt at Cresco Tank, approximately 4 miles and 900 vertical feet below Cumbres Pass. In days of old, the smaller D&RGW Locomotives virtually always stopped here on the climb to the 10,000 ft. high pass, because they just couldn't carry enough water to make the 14-mile journey. These days, the K-36s that haul the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad's tourist trains have very large tenders, with 5000 gallon tanks, and they can make it all the way to the top with no trouble at all. About the only trains that still stop here are the photo charters, like the one you see here, which typically eat up a lot of water doing run-bys. For them, the Cresco Tank is a real convenience, enabling them to do a lot of shooting, on the vaunted 4% grade, which is arguably one of the most exciting places to photograph steam in all of the US.
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.