Servicing in the Cumbres Yard. After a pretty arduous climb up the 4% grade out of Chama on wet rails, we see the Durango Railroad Historical Society (DRHS) crew servicing their locomotive at the Cumbres Pass standpipe. One crewmember is capping the tender tank, while another shuts off the water to the standpipe. Shortly, the crew will begin a series of switching moves, assembling an eastbound train that they brought up here in a couple of sections.
This operation, staged at the 2016 C&TS Narrow Gauge Rendezvous event, was very typical of the way in which the old Denver & Rio Grande Western operated back in the early 20th century, when narrow gauge freights were common over these rails. Several cuts of cars would be shuttled from Chama to Cumbres, often using several locomotives to get the job done. In the days when little Consolidations such as 315 were the primary power, there were often 3 locomotives on each Cumbres Turn, and given the limited power of each engine, even those multi-engine trains weren't all that long. After several dozen cars were assembled on the pass, a single train was put together, and a single locomotive would take the resulting consist east down the much shallower grade to Alamosa, Colorado, where a connection to standard gauge trains could occur.
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.