Rio Grande Scenic troubles...

John Barnhill Jul 26, 2007

  1. John Barnhill

    John Barnhill TrainBoard Member

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    Tourist train in trouble after second year in operation
    [​IMG]posted by: Colleen Locke , Producer
    created: 7/21/2007 3:53:24 PM
    Last updated: 7/21/2007 3:59:20 PM

    [​IMG]
    LA VETA (AP) - The town of La Veta has given the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad a reprieve through this tourist season.

    It will continue to sell the railroad water for its steam engine, manufactured in 1901 and recently renovated, but will use treated water instead of raw water as planned, the Pueblo Chieftain reported.

    Mayor Mickey Schmidt says the train will have to find another source when the current contract ends Oct. 31.

    Steve Gregory, vice president of the railroad's service, said that waiting to discuss options could leave the railroad in a lurch.

    The company plans to run the steam engine to La Veta daily for the 2008 season, but a lack of water could cause it to consider other options, including other destinations. Roundtrip fares range from $33 for children to $48 for adults.

    The standard-gauge train travels from Alamosa over scenic La Veta Pass, 9,413 feet, to the small town.

    Gregory said the company doesn't want to have to purchase a tank car, which could cost as much as $60,000.

    The trouble began last week when when local Water Commissioner Doug Brgoch informed the town that the water it was selling to the railroad to run a steam engine on the weekends was for agricultural use only.

    He rejected a request that the operation be allowed next year, saying a new plan must be found. "It's your responsibility to figure out a plan and bring it to us," Schmidt said.

    Gregory said the company plans to run the steam engine to La Veta daily for the 2008 season, which would require more water and could affect whether it continues to serve the town.

    "It's our strong belief that the operation of the train is a benefit to the town," Gregory said. "When the steam engine runs, ridership doubles." The line had previously used a diesel engine.

    Business owners in the crowd agreed said the train was bringing business to the town.

    "I really don't care if this helps the train and I'm not basing any decisions on whether it helps the businesses," Schmidt said. "I don't care if anybody makes one red cent from the train."

    Some who attended the meeting said they were worried the town would not have enough water to supply the train as well as its residences and businesses.


    (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)
     
  2. wig-wag-trains.com

    wig-wag-trains.com Advertiser

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    Where did this article come from?
     
  3. bravogjt

    bravogjt TrainBoard Member

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    That same article from The Associated Press was published in our paper. That is too bad. Has anyone from the TrainBoard rode the steam engine on La Veta pass? I'm considering riding it this year if I can get the time off.

    Ben
     
  4. wig-wag-trains.com

    wig-wag-trains.com Advertiser

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    We have a group of about 40 people riding Labor Day Weekend.
     
  5. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    :( :( :( :(

    From what I heard/read the Mayor needs to get recalled. Does he not understand this is something that needs to get resolved as something his city wants to see work!
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wow! Talk about government being arrogant. Am certainly happy I don't live where they elect someone like this joker! He's completely disconnected with how tax revenues are generated.

    :thumbs_down: :zip:

    Boxcab E50
     
  7. John Barnhill

    John Barnhill TrainBoard Member

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    The water commisioner and mayor both seem to be out of touch and way out of line! :(
     
  8. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I wish I knew more about the water supply issue. Is the problem that they are on a dwindling aquifer and that they are having trouble getting enough to drink and flush their toilets in the town?

    The attitude of the mayor and water commissioner, as portrayed, is not the give-and-take that is necessary for negotiations or good government.
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Citizens who are foolish enough to keep such a government, will also be the first to scream- When their taxes jump up, to cover the differences for both tax revenues lost from RR operations, and also monies not coming in via sale of that water.

    Hopefully, enough businesses will be hard hit, to kick the bums out, and set up something fair with the railroad. It simply cannot be that difficult.

    :thumbs_down:

    Boxcab E50
     
  10. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    This joker doesn't have a clue. If the steam train goes under, does he realize how much tourism would plummet? Not that there's anything else up there between LaVeta and Alamosa that would attract tourists. It's a barren desert.
    Some sort of compromise needs to be made--steamers are thirsty beasts. I would ride this line, if I were closer, and I would definitely railfan it, at its higher elevations as well. Under diesel power, it's nowhere near as enticing. That steamer needs to keep operating, or the tourism business in the town will be where it was before the SLRG began steam service. Or worse.
     
  11. wig-wag-trains.com

    wig-wag-trains.com Advertiser

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    La Veta is TINY.
    The water system may be barely able to keep the town in showers. Filling a 10000 gallon tender may be way beyond the capacity of the system to replenish in a reasonable time.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    And likely their tax base is small. Perhaps lacking. Thus, all the more reason they'd need to work out a plan with the railroad. Rather than create a door slam in the face perception. If "TINY", they need those train riders to come and boost business. Help the town's economy. Which tax revenues could then help upgrade their water supply. Or help repay a loan used to add water capacity.

    If presently in such a condition, eventually they'll need to jump this hurdle. Railroad, or not. Sounds like sooner, rather than later. I know what "TINY" is in reality. I also know what can be done, with good leadership.

    La Veta is three times the size of my old home town! And, unincorporated, we got a loan, then completely upgraded our system. So well, the town is now far more than ten times that size of my youth. It's system is still more than adequate. Plus, it daily loads tanker trucks of water. Out for bottling, then resale.

    Boxcab E50
     
  13. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    That just goes to show that it can be done, with the right leadership.
    LaVeta and Alamosa need to seriously consider someting similar.
     
  14. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I don't understand why they don't just say something to the railroad like, "hey, we like to take showers once in a while. Our water system ain't all that grand. How about we come to some sort of agreement where you help us pay for a water system upgrade and you can have all the water your boiler needs."

    I bet the mayor's office is a volunteer position, and probably something the guy does only on evenings and weekends. Some of these small town mayors really don't know how to think outside the box. Thinking outside the box cuts into the time they need to watch "Trick my Truck." As an involved member of my own community, I know it can take a lot of time, but that's no excuse for just slamming the door in people's faces. If you start getting burnt out, you just start inviting interested parties to come help you.

    You don't have to go to college to learn this stuff.

    Adam
     
  15. Night Flyer

    Night Flyer E-Mail Bounces

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    Perhaps someone close to the mayor and the commissioner will point out the political opportunities and economic advantages that could be achieved by embracing the railroad and the tourist dollars it can bring (especially with steam loco instead of diesel) and some creative methods for dealing with the water problem.

    If increasing capacity locally is not viable, searching out creative alternatives could help extend some public service careers. Oh, and it might even be an actual service to the citizens of the communities involved - what a novel idea!
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yup. This the type of scenario I'm hinting at.

    For my home town, (the example used earlier), several individuals stepped up, volunteered. Placed the financial and performance liabilities squarely upon their own shoulders. And showed how to LEAD. When they did so, others stood up, and joined in the project. At the beginning, those who made the loan, were skeptical. After seeing the outcome, they were surprised and delighted. Yes. I even had some involvement. The man who initially took charge? Was my next door neighbor.

    Exactly. What is that old saying? "Common sense is an uncommon virtue?"

    Boxcab E50
     
  17. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I live in a large-ish city, but in a neighborhood that in many ways still functions as the small town it once was (before annexation in 1915). We have all types here. We have the hard-working volunteers who take on things without grumbling and work to achieve consensus. We also have the sideline complainers who like to moan and groan but suggest a grass-roots effort (that may involve a little bit of sweat equity in the ol' neighborhood) and they disappear. We also have some of the burned out types who prattle on about how nobody else's ideas will ever work because so-and-so tried something like that in 1986 yadda yadda yadda.

    Some people have no vision. Some people have no sense of compassion. Some people have no ability or no desire to achieve consensus. Some people won't accept facts or will pick and choose only those that suit their own viewpoints.

    I SINCERELY hope that this town can get something worked out with the railroad. I think I can understand the engineering side of the problem now that Wig-Wag-Trains has given a little more background, but almost nothing is impossible when it comes to engineering.

    There I go again. Maybe I should have been an engineer (the structural or civil type) instead of an architect who wants to be an engineer.
     
  18. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have to wonder is the mayor playing hardball because he wants something or this is his style to start with "no" forcing the other party to do the work. He comes out smelling like a rose. Could be he alwready knows what "yes" is but will force them to get there.
     
  19. david f.

    david f. TrainBoard Supporter

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    hi guys,
    there is an important detail to remember here (and i am NOT defending the mayor or anyone else in la veta, on this subject). but ... water is scarce in colorado. as populations moved west they claimed the water rights along the way. by the time they came to the head waters (origin) in colorado, all the waters was committed and had to LEAVE the state.

    the only way a community can HAVE water is to replace what they use by owning water rights (and water rights are "rationed" so to speak). a town like la veta has enough to live on, but where do they go to get more for extra activities or development? there ISN'T more water to be had, just allocations -- so la veta will have to buy someone elses water rights in order to have "more".

    at this point in colorados population increase and economic development, people are scrambling for supplemental water - and it ain't cheap (or easy to get). we have a saying in colorado: "water flows to money".

    i doubt anyway is really against the train. i suggest they are up against a wall and there's no more (extra) water for the steamer. notice that they didn't have any arguments with the city fathers when the diesels were running.

    fyi. (please don't shoot the messenger). just offering something to consider.
    dave f.
     
  20. Frank Campagna

    Frank Campagna TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you, david f. I was going to chime in that point, and I don't even live in the area. I don't believe it is a game either, but a real problem. People don't seem to realize that. It is a growing problem throughout the southwest. Frank
     

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