DRGW History and Information  

  Trip Report: Riding Over La Veta Pass - Chapter 1
  Alamosa to the Top
Riding Friday's Train from Alamosa to Fir
  From: Riding Over La Veta Pass Dates: June 9, 2006 Author: Nathan Holmes


Photo 1
As I pulled into Walsenburg about 0800h, I found the Alamosa-Walsenburg job still in the yard, but starting to pull westwards
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 2
Turns out they were just pulling a long cut of cars out, and weren't ready to get going yet. Here are the two lead GP39-2s in front of the old power plant.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336
  Report Chapters  
   1 - Alamosa to the Top
   2 - Fir to La Veta
   3 - Return Trip and More
  Site Navigation  
   Back to Trip Reports Index
   Back to DRGW.Net

Photo 3
Arriving in Alamosa, the SL&RG's office is darn hard to miss with the big sign on top.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 4
The train schedule signs, posted on each side of the building.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 5
After picking up my ticket, I wandered into the back, where there was a local coffee vendor set up. In addition is this interesting relic of a wall, almost certain from the Grande days.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 6
About half an hour before departure, the crew starts moving cars around with F40M-2F #455
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 7
What's an F40M-2F? It's an ex-Amtrak F40PH that was rebuilt for freight service on the now-defunct Canadian American Railroad up in Maine. The SLRG now has four. Here's a better look at SLRG 456 in Walsenburg.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 8
All put together and ready to pull up to the depot. The train for the day is SLRG 455, RPCX 2948, RPCX 2968, and High Iron Travel's Caritas.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 9
While the Alamosa depot is no longer a railroad building (it's now offices for the county), passengers for the SL&RG still board off the old platform behind the depot.
400x600 640x960
1000x1500 2336x3504

Photo 10
Yup, this is the only way to travel. From the time it served on the initial press run in Feb 2006 until Monday, 12-Jun-2006, High Iron Travel's private car Caritas was on the SL&RG, and was an option for passengers willing to pay an additional premium on top of the usual fare.
450x600 720x960
1125x1500

Photo 11
The Rio Grande, like many railroads, was named after its goals, not necessarily where it went. Just outside of Alamosa is one of the very few places at which the D&RGW crosses the Rio Grande, its namesake river.
400x600 640x960
1000x1500 2336x3504

Photo 12
The first few miles through the valley is rather flat and dull, but the track is good and soon you find yourself on the east side of the San Luis Valley.
400x600 640x960
1000x1500 2336x3504

Photo 13
Here's the wide side of Mt. Blanca, as seen from the Caritas as we pass through Blanca (the town)
400x600 640x960
1000x1500 2336x3504

Photo 14
Once you part ways with US Hwy 160, the line starts winding back into the beautifully remote Forbes Trinchera area - normally an area off-limits if you don't either own property up there or know someone who does. Here we are climbing towards Sierra.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 15
And here we are at Sierra siding, approximately MP 214.8 and looking west.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 16
Here's our train, working upgrade through Sierra.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 17
Past Sierra, the line starts to climb from the valley up through the pines towards the summit. That's Mt. Blanca off in the distance.
400x600 640x960
1000x1500 2336x3504

Photo 18
Throughout this stretch, we kept stopping due to engine problems. Later conversations with the crew revealed that as they'd try to notch up, one of the breakers would pop and the unit wouldn't load. This probably happened three times, and then went away.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 19
Another view out the rear at the steep, winding track behind, this one taken around MP 210
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 20
Near the top, the line makes a huge horseshoe to gain elevation towards the west end of Fir. Here you can see our track, the upper level off to the right, and the remnants of the old connection between the two that was used for turning snowplows.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 21
Around the loop at MP 208.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 3504x2336

Photo 22
A look at the lower part of the loop from the upper level, as well as the old balloon track, stock pens, and dilapidated snow fence.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 2544x1696

Photo 23
The other half of the loop, looking straight back down the track on the upper side of the loop.
600x400 960x640
1500x1000 2544x1696
[<< Previous]   Chapter 1   [Next >>]
Creative Commons License This work is copyright 2006 by Nathan D. Holmes (maverick@drgw.net), but licensed under a Creative Commons License. This allows and encourages others to copy, modify, use, and distribute my work, without the hassle of asking me for explicit permission or fear of copyright violation. I encourage others to consider CC or other Open Content-style licensing of their original works.

All photographs in this trip report were taken with a Canon EOS 20D using either a Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS/USM or a Canon 75-300mm f4-5.3 IS/USM.