Navajo, NM

Navajo, NM, was the site of a water tank? and bridge over the Navajo River, located at milepost 377.7 on the narrow gauge San Juan Extension.

The bridge over the Navajo River - known as Bridge 377-B to the Rio Grande - is a 120ft through truss, built in 1888 by New Jersey Steel and Iron and installed on this site around 1924. The bridge is a twin of one of the spans across the Rio Chama just north of the Chama, NM, yards. It was originally installed on the North Fork? as one of three spans in Bridge 380-A, located just west of Austin, CO?. The other two parts of 380-A (an identical 120ft span and a 110ft span) wound up in Chama in the same year, when the North Fork? bridge was upgraded.1

After the line was abandoned, the truss bridge continued to serve as a road bridge. It was taken out of service when the new paved road from Dulce, NM? and new bridge were constructed in 1995-1996.

Navajo Rock and the Wreck of 492

On 6-Aug-1963, an eastbound extra powered by K-37 #492 struck a large rock just east of Navajo. The incident destroyed 492's smokebox and took the engine out of service. The Alamosa shops quickly repaired the damage, and by 3-Sep-1963, the engine was back in service.

The incident is notable because the rock was never removed while the line was in service. Instead, the Rio Grande built a short shoo-fly? around it, and even after the San Juan Extension was abandoned, the rock sat there with rails poking out from under it. Finally, when the new paved road was constructed from Dulce, NM? to Navajo between 1995 and 1996, the rock was blasted and removed from the right-of-way.

A recounting of the incident from X492E's head brakeman, LE Trump, can be found here.

Navajo Today

Navajo lies within the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Unlike the Southern Utes and the remains at Gato, CO, the Jicarilla Apache have kept the Navajo tank and bridge in good repair. As of 2005, the two both looked as if they'd been freshly painted. The site is easily reached by driving a few miles west from Dulce, NM? on BIA road J44.

Maps and Photos

Photos of Navajo, NM


1 Post by Dave Adams on the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum: "Re: Chama bridge trivia", 25-Sep-2006 2219h. He cites a Rio Grande document entitled: "General Plan and Details of Masonry Bridge 377-B - 4th Div." dated 7-27-23, and a bridge listing entitled "Alamosa Division - La Veta to Durango - MP 190 to MP 451".

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  Last modified on September 14, 2016, at 01:49 PM
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