Cumbres & Toltec Designated a National Historic Landmark

southparkline1 Oct 27, 2012

  1. southparkline1

    southparkline1 TrainBoard Member

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    The department of the interior has given the status of National Historic Landmark to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railway. The designation by the National Park service allows the Cumbres and Toltec to seek funding through grants meant to preserve and maintain National Historic Landmarks. There are just over 2,500 sites listed by the National Historic Landmark program.

    In case someone doesn't know what the C&TS is, it is a 64 mile 3ft. gauge line between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. It is the last remaining narrow gauge portion of the D&RGW San Juan extension mainline to Durango and it was the last major steam powered narrow gauge railroad to operate in the United States with regular traffic ceasing in 1968. The railroad is currently owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico.
    Alex
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like great news. I am sure they have plenty of projects needing attention.

    When did the Durango & Silverton line cease operations under the D&RGW?

    I have this far fetched dream the two lines could some day be re-joined...
     
  3. southparkline1

    southparkline1 TrainBoard Member

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    The Silverton Branch was operated by the D&RGW until I believe 1980, the final D&RGW ng movement was a work train on October 6th, 1980. The first train under D&SNG ownership was in March 1981 (they didn't operate winter trains yet). The near 100 miles of track between Durango and Chama were removed in 1971. Unless somebody with $$$ steps up I doubt it will happen, but it would be very cool. A new route would have to be built between the Durango yard and the point where the Farmington branch broke off just south of Durango due to Durango's growth but other than that most bridges and ROW are intact.

    A couple of interesting narrow gauge extension proposal's that have surfaced in recent years:
    The San Luis and Rio Grande Railway which operates the old D&RGW line from Alamosa to Antonito, applied for a Tiger grant to build a intermodal yard in Antonito and restore the dual gauge on the 30 miles of track between Alamosa and Antonito, the plan did not receive funding but dual gauge operations between the C&TS and the SL&RG would have been awsome for us railfans.

    Restore the dual gauge 3rd rail to at least the original Antonito depot to allow the direct transferring of passengers between sg SLRG trains and ng C&TS trains.

    The SLRG in their bid to operate the C&TS last year, which failed, mentioned they would explore freight oppurtunities if given the contract to operate the C&TS. Monero which is a short distance west of the end of track in Chama, but along the original ROW, has large coal reserves which could be utilized, but the C&TS awarded the operating contract to American Heritage Railways instead (operator of the D&SNG), but they just recently gave up after only one year of operation.

    There is a local movement in Silverton to rebuild the Silverton Northern between Silverton and Howardsville, it would be a short excursion with 5%+ grades but there is no definite plans and currently Al Harper, owner of the D&SNG does not support the plan. The Silverton Northern in reality is to short to compete with the D&SNG.

    Alex
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wow. All kinds of things happening with all of those operations. Please keep us updated!

    As to rebuilding the missing line, I do know there'd be $$$ involved. But both D&SNG and C&TS are so well known, plus there are almost literally hordes of D&RGW fans, surely there would be some noisy support. Both States know the value of these lines. I look at what has been done to re-birth the V&T, although on a smaller scale, yet with some major missing place or major damage areas. It sure can be done if folks have a mind to do so.
     
  5. Ghetto Fab.

    Ghetto Fab. TrainBoard Member

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    It can be done, but it all comes down to $$$. Dreams are awesome till someone has to pay for them. It sucks I know and I hate to be a buzz kill, but I doubt you'd get much ridership between the two points. As it is now the C&T does about a 1/4 of the volume compared to the D&SNG. The nice thing about those two roads is that they are nice ONE day trips. Thats great for the average tourist. Get the kids out and ride the train for the day and then do something different the next. I know I could spend a couple weeks out there railfanning and riding the rails, but the average D&SNG or C&T rider won't. Having driven that section several times I know there is a lot of running, but the scenery wouldn't be enough of a draw. If there was a way to make more $$$ from it, it might work.

    Of the plans discussed in this thread the only one I see as even remotely viable would be the Silverton Northern and thats questionable at best. Even if it wasn't cheaper to truck coal around cumbres pass, I doubt they'd be using steam to move it over the line. That would be a lot of wear and tear for some rare and priceless steam engines. It would be neat to see though!

    Kevo
     
  6. southparkline1

    southparkline1 TrainBoard Member

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    ^ There are a couple big issues with the Monero coal haul ideas:
    1. All rolling stock and motive power on the roster is historic (besides diesel #19 and EBT MOW car) and use in freight service would add additional wear and tear. New freight cars and locomotives would be needed.
    2. New track and loading facilities would be needed, for loading coal and transfering coal to the SG.
    3. Winter on Cumbres Pass is harsh, there is a reason the D&RGW stationed a rotary in Alamosa and Chama for use on the pass. Although OM and OY are still on property, they need work and daily use of steam rotaries, which was common some winters on Cumbres, is just not economical.
    4. The ruling grade between Chama and Cumbres is 4%, providing even more difficulties.
    5. Coal demands are falling.
    6. The Cumbres and Toltec is a national treasure, and its historical signifigance may need to be taken into account.
    Although it would be cool, the costs would provide huge challenges for the railroad and its operator.

    The Cumbres and Toltec is still investigating, despite their departure, the American Heritage Railways idea to rebuilding the Chama roundhouse (only two stalls survive today) for use as a museum, locomotive repair facility, and a Friends of the C&TS work area.
    Alex
     

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