Lava, NM, is the site of a water tank and reversing loop, located at milepost 291.6 of the San Juan Extension (approximately 10.3 rail miles west of Antonito, CO). Originally, Lava referred to the site of a a 1,055 ft. siding located at MP 290.8 (below the mesa on which the tank is located), but this was removed in 1955 (under AFE 3947) and the designation "Lava" shifted to the site of the tank.
The balloon track connects the mainline in such a way that eastbound snowplow trains can be turned back towards Cumbres Pass. It was constructed in 1922.
The water tank at Lava is not the original Lava tank. The current tank was moved from Antonito, CO, when the original Lava tank burned in 1973 due to a discarded cigarette. Both the original and replacement Antonito tanks were 50,000 gallon units of the standard D&RGW design. The tank was fed from a pumphouse located on the Los Pinos River some 500 feet below the tank. The pumping equipment was salvaged from the pumphouse in the early 1970s and Lava tank has been non-functional ever since.
Maps and Photos
Photos of Lava, NM