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A Winter Trip to Colorado 12/1983

by Chris Guenzler

Bill and I decided to make a pre Christmas Trip to Colorado to take picture on Tennessee Pass. We drove to the Motel 6 in Flagstaff the first day then made our way to Pueblo making the Motel 6 there our headquarters.

We Railfanned along the way, catching the Santa Fe 3820 East at Darling, AZ.

Further east in New Mexico we caught the Santa Fe 3817 East splitting the Semaphores at Onava, New Mexico.

The next morning, we headed west on our way to Tennessee Pass. We went through Canon City then crossed the ridge on US 50.

We got the west end of the Royal Gorge and near Texas Creek here came the Rio Grande 3008 East.

We went east on US 50 for a second picture. From there we drove west to Salida where US Highway 24 took us north.

We caught the Rio Grande 5351 East with four Missouri Pacific SD-40-2's in its consist. Heading further northwest, we crossed the summit of Tennessee Pass and started our descent. Bill decided to switch gears we hit an ice patch and spun out into a snow bank. We both got out to see how we would remove the vehicle from the snow bank. Just then a Rio Grande Maintainer drove up and offered to pull us out using the wrench on his truck. He freed us with no problems and after thanking him we drove down to Minturn. We checked in at the Rio Grande Offices and learned there was an eastbound heading towards Minturn. After taking a few pictures of the helper units waiting for their next assignment, we headed off west in search of the train which we found near Avon.

Near Avon.

We followed him east taking our next picture just west of Minturn.

The train cut its helpers in mid train and we caught him again at the overpass just outside of Minturn. From there, we made our way to Pando for our next picture.

We followed the train as it climbed towards the 10,020 foot high Summit Tunnel, the highest railroad crossing in North America. With the sun having set and no reading on my light meter I shot this picture hoping it would come out which it did. We returned to Pueblo for the night.

We woke to a bitterly cold morning with the radio stating it was minus forty degree wind chill out.

We headed east to Avondale catching this Santa Fe 3675 in the heavy snow. We went east to NA JCT to hopefully get either a Santa Fe or Missouri Pacific train. Neither came, so we stopped in at the Missouri Pacific Station in Avondale and the operator gave me a MOPAC System Timetable. We returned to Pueblo before heading to Bragdon on the Joint Line to catch a few trains in the late afternoon.

The next cold morning we headed north up the Joint Line catching this BN coal train with the 5564 on the point heading south.

Further north at Colorado Springs, the Rio Grande GP-30 3010 was switching the city's power plant.

We headed north to Palmer Lake setting up at the grade crossing there and waiting patiently. The first train was the Santa Fe 3806 West.

That train was followed by Rio Grande 3174 with the lead unit still in Conrail Blue as the Grande bought the unit second hand.

A while later, the Rio Grande 5392 East showed up and after a picture at Palmer Lake we went towards Monument catching him curving onto the railroad overpass across the highway.

Further south at Academy, we watched the 5392 pass south with a BN train in the hole there. We walked down to talk to the crew who gave me a Rio Grande, Joint Line and Union Pacific timetables. Back up to the vehicle, next came the Rio Grande 5379 West. We returned to Pueblo for our last night there.

The next morning, we took Interstate 25 south passing a BN wreck in the process of being cleaned up and a northbound coal empty. We made our way to Trinidad where we found the BN 7177 East about to leave town.

We followed him out grabbing a quick picture before we headed out of town to an overpass where we recorded a picture of him. Heading southeast along this line on local roads, we entered New Mexico and at Des Moines we joined Highway US 87 which we would follow the railroad to Dalhart, Texas.

Along the way there at Greenville we caught the BN 7135 East running beside the ice covered wires. We got to Dalhart and staked out the crossing of the BN/SP catching a few trains there. We took US 54 south back into New Mexico catching up to a westbound train. At Tucumcari we returned to Interstate 40 heading west to Grants and the Motel 6 for the night.

The next day we Railfanned our way home ending a winter trip top Colorado.