Crossing Cascade Creek. A Rio Grande Southern freight re-creation tip-toes across the iron trestle over Cascade Creek on a breezy fall afternoon. Heading up our train this day is DRGW 453, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. She's a K-27 "Mudhen" that was loaned by the D&RGW to the Rio Grande Southern, but like many such loaner engines, she was never repainted in the RGS "sunrise" herald. The RGS was, of course, owned by the D&RGW, so the sharing of equipment was common. The locomotive seen here is actually DRGW 463, owned by the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, and re-numbered for our excursion. The 463 is just one of two K-27s that survive today, the other being the 464, which regularly operates on Michigan's Huckleberry Railroad.
The iron bridge over Cascade Creek is the second trestle to exist at this location. It was built in 1889, is 408 ft. long and towers some 137 ft above the creek. This bridge was built to hold the very type of locomotive you see here, and while it is strong enough to hold larger engines such as the K-36, double-heading with any class of engine has never been allowed here, or on the similar trestle over Wolf Creek near Chama. If you ever wondered why D&RGW narrow gauge freights had helper engines cut into the middle or ends of the trains, this is the reason.
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.