Big Horn, NM, is the site of a 1185 ft siding and wye, located at milepost 299.4 of the San Juan Extension. The local elevation is around 8800 feet above sea level, and the site takes its name from Bighorn Peak, a 9,442 ft. point on the south side of the track.
Big Horn was also originally the location of a Section House, though not located actually up at the wye and siding. The section house, two bunk houses?, and a few smaller related structures were located inside the radius of the lower of the Whiplash Curves?. The section house structure resembled the ones that remain at Sublette, NM, Osier, CO, and Cumbres, CO. One of the bunk houses? was similar to the one at Sublette, NM, whereas the other was a converted railcar body. All were removed by 1965 (Osterwald), though the bunk houses? were likely gone around 1952 (Glover & Wilson).
The wye was primarily used to turn snow-fighting equipment, though it was used for helper engines working up from Antonito as well. Osterwald notes that the tail was lengthened in 1953.
Today, Big Horn still sees narrow gauge trains as part of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The only remaining structure is the telegraphone booth, located at MP 299.7 and restored by the Friends? in 2005.
The Big Horn Bell
One of the more unique electrical items on the San Juan Extension was the Big Horn Bell. A small track circuit was located at milepost 300.5 which would detect passing trains, ringing a bell in the Alamosa dispatcher's office. Later, when the dispatching function was moved to Pueblo, the bell was moved into the Alamosa trainmaster's office. The system reportedly functioned right up until the end of D&RGW narrow gauge operations.
Little remains of the system today. Earl Knoob noted on NGDF back in Feb 2002 that the insulated joints were still in the rail, and the grounding rod could also be found.
Maps and Photos
Photos of Big Horn, NM