Friday, June 3, 2016

6/1 Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chama, NM

OK. Another confession.  I usually make reservations many months in advance because I like the security of always having a place to stay and things to do.  So I had planned to take this narrow gauge train trip from the small town of Antonito, Colorado, so I made my reservations and also made reservations to spend the night at the nearby town of Alamosa, CO.

I arrived at my campground in Alamosa, got settled in, and had some dinner.  Then about 6:00 pm, I got out my train trip reservations to check on the time I had to be there the next morning.  Oops.  Instead of leaving from Antonito, which was 27 miles away, the trip I had reserved left from the far end of the line in the town of Chama, NM, which was 77 miles away.  And I had already checked in and paid for the next night at this campground, which meant I would end up driving 77 miles back here that night!

Thankfully, I got a refund from the campground for the next night, and left the next morning for Chama at 7:00 am to board the train at 10:00 am.  Whew! 

Anyway, it was a very pretty drive up and over a 10,500' pass.  Still a bit of snow up there, and since there has been rain lately, the rivers are full.

Passed the rails the train will be riding on later.  No crossing guards, but there was a sign telling you to look out for trains.

I had upgraded to the tourist car, which had tables and chairs instead of bench seats.  Also, we had got a muffin and souvenir mug, plus drinks served all day.  Since the car was not full, I had the table to myself.

I took a photo of the first class or parlor car.  The advantage here is that the seats have a little more padding and all face the windows.  They also get drinks and snacks.

This open car was right behind my car so it was easy to go out and take photos.  Got a bit sooty, however.

We are headed uphill to the track seen above the road here.

The train crosses the highway at several points, so people had stopped to take photos at many of these crossings.

This little car follows us to make sure that cinders from the coal-fired train does not start fires.

Takes a lot of steam to get us up the grade, which averages a steep 4% on this route.

But a terrific view from the top.  We are at 10,000' here and you can see the road and train tracks headed east.

This is the old section house where we stopped to fill up with water and to drop off some hikers who are on their way from the Mexican border to Canada!   

Pretty river. 

The building in the distance is where we will have lunch, which is provided with our tickets. It is in the middle of the route from Antonito to Chama.  We meet the train coming from Antonito. It continues to Chama, and our train goes on to Antonito.  Some passengers will take the bus back to one of those towns, others will continue on, and some of us will switch trains to return to our starting point.  Lots of choices.  Lunch was turkey or meat loaf dinners, or a salad bar with soup.  The crews ate outside and chatted, and we all ate inside.  Actually, it was very good food, but served very fast since we had only an hour break.  

This is the train from Antonito that I will take back to Chama.

Nice cowcatcher.  We could have used it earlier this morning when the cow elk raced us and crossed the track just before the engine.  Dumb thing for her to do, but at least she made it.

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