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Rio Grande Scenic Railroad 7/19/2008

by Chris Guenzler

After I got up and worked on stories I checked out of the Best Western Alamosa Inn and meet Bob and Chris at the car. We all drove down to the Rio Grande Scenic Alamosa station to pick up our tickets. We then went outside to wait for our steam train to La Veta to board.

The train for Antonito was first to depart this morning. This train allows a connection to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad and a roundtrip from Antonito to Osier.

Next a Rio Grande & San Luis light engine passed in front of the Alamosa Station.

The Alamosa Station.

Next the Rio Grande Scenic 18 came out and then backed onto its train for the trip to La Veta.

The Rio Grande Scenic 18 then pulled the train into the station and a few minutes later passenger boarding started. Our consist for the trip to La Veta was Rio Grande Scenic 2-8-0 18, Full Dome RPCX 554 Eklutna, Full Dome RPCX 551 Kobuk, SLRG Coach RPCX 5067 and SLRG Coach 2. I was seated in the Eklutna. The train departed Alamosa at 9:05 AM.

After leaving Alamosa, the train crossed the Rio Grande River.

The train headed across the San Luis Valley heading east for the mountains.

Looking north towards Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Three scenes crossing the San Luis Valley.

Smoke blocks out the view of Blanca where Chris Parker and I did some ghost railroading of the former San Luis Southern Railroad.

A moment later, I caught where that former operation was based.

Blanca Peak was off to the north.

Still heading east across the San Luis Valley, which is the largest Alpine Valley in the world and larger than the state of Connecticut.

Agriculture plays the main part of the San Luis Valley economy.

A city park with an airplane on display in Fort Garland.

A few miles east of Fort Garland the train takes the first of many curves on the climb to Fir, the summit of La Veta Pass.

The train took more curves as we move closer to the mountains.

The greater the curve the more of the steam engine you can see.

The steam engine makes nice sounds as it moves along the route.

The little stream that we follow into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The train was twisting and turning to gain elevation in its climb towards the summit.

The train ran by the vegetation as we passed through Wagon Creek Junction and leave most of the photographers behind on the highway.

Now the grade starts and our engine will be pulling hard to get as up and over the pass.

Every curve provides a good view of our hard working steam engine.

Tank cars were in the siding at Sierra as we headed east.

The train was climbing the grade as it takes us deeper into the mountains.

A look back at Mt Maestas and Mt Blanca.

Looking forward as our train climbs the grade.

The view to our rear becomes more beautiful by the second.

The engine sounds great as it works up the grade.

The view behind increases in beauty.

The engine continues to work hard.

The view behind is enjoyed.

The engine is working hard.

Mt Maestas just watches our climb.

The train works up the grade.

We get our last look at Mt Maestas.

Views as the train climbs the grade.

Our train nearing Fir.

Ahead of our train you can see the upper level at Fir.

Two views of the old turning track at Fir.

The train took the horseshoe curve at Fir.

This is the stage for the High Altitude Concert Series in which special trains bring concert goers to the show here.

Looking down the former turning track at Fir.

The train takes the final turn into Fir which has a siding.

In the siding we meet the train from La Veta and we will be able to detrain for about twenty minutes this morning.

Our train waits at Fir.

San Luis Scenic 18 at Fir.

In this view has the Antonio train in the picture. I reboarded and since the steam engine would not be working down grade, I will wait until the return trip to take more pictures and I would just relax.

Taken as I got on the train.

The train drifting down the grade to La Veta. I called Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio Show and talked with them just as I was getting off the train for lunch in La Veta.

The former Rio Grande Station in La Veta.

Our train in La Veta.

We walked down the road to Sammie's Restaurant for lunch during our two hour layover in La Veta.

Click here for Part 2 of this story