Facebook Page

East to Trinidad plus the Pueblo Railway Museum and more!

by Chris Guenzler

I got the usual e-mail from Bart Jennings about the next rare mileage trips over both the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad and San Luis Central Railroad. I sent my checks for both trips then started planning how to get there. I obtained vacation days from work so I could take the trip. Amtrak would be easy to take to La Junta and I could rent a car there. Guess what? There was no rental car company in La Junta and while Enterprise would pick us up and take us to Pueblo, it would be too late Friday morning to do anything. A conductor friend of mine, Jeff, suggested JJ Motors in Trinidad. I called them and then got my Amtrak reservation changed to Trinidad. Chris Parker would be joining me for these trips. I contacted the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway and we arranged a trip for Friday at 1:30 PM. Next, I called the Pueblo Locomotive & Rail Historical Society, operators of the Pueblo Railway Museum, and arranged a tour for 8:30 AM Friday morning. Next the Pike's Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation was contacted via e-mail and a visit was scheduled for 11:00 AM the same day. I called Best Western Hotels and made reservations for two nights in Trinidad and Alamosa. Chris Parker decided to fly to Albuquerque and board Amtrak there. After the trip on Sunday, I decided I would visit the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. With that planned, all Chris and I would have to do is wait for our departure dates.

Surfliner 583 10/25/2006

First, Metrolink 686 to Irvine arrived from Los Angeles.

Once he had left Santa Ana, I heard another horn approaching from the south which meant my train would soon be crossing 4th Street.

My train came in with me taking a seat on the lower level of the cab car. The consist was Surfliner Cab Car 6905, Superliner Coach 31021, Coach 6400, Coach/Cafe 6304, Pacific Business Class 6852 and engine 459 pushing. We left Santa Ana on time and quickly stopped at Anaheim and Fullerton. We made the sprint from Fullerton to Los Angeles, arriving early at Los Angeles Union Station. A walk down, over and up took me to Track 12 and my waiting train.

Southwest Chief 4 10/25/2006

This train had engines 8, 19 and 158, Baggage 1754, Transition 39026, Sleepers 32060 and 32025, Diner 38021, Lounge 33042 and Coaches 34075, 34024 and 34085. I chose seat 19, a large window seat in the 34024. I settled in and relaxed before departure time, listening to Keith Richards "Main Offender". We left LAUPT on time with me listening to Deep Purple's "Come Hell or High Water" as I did several Sudoku puzzles. Conductor Pablo took my ticket on the way to Fullerton. There was a lengthy stop at Riverside when a drunken passenger was taken off the train and then tried to reboard as it left Riverside. The authorities were called and a Riverside station security guard sat with him as we left. I called it a night at that point. An Amish baby started to cry which was alright, but not the three passengers in our car who started talking loudly and using their cell phone, which kept people awake past Barstow. Every trip is an adventure!

10/26/2006 I woke up east of Flagstaff in the predawn hour to a very clear morning. I sat down at a table in the lounge car waiting for the dining car to open as the Southwest Chief sped toward Winslow. When it opened, I was seated at a table with Otto going to Albuquerque for the winter from Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Rob from Flagstaff also going to the same destination. I enjoyed French Toast and sausage along with some interesting conversation. Back at my seat, Rush "Vapor Trails" was my next musical selection. West of Gallup, we stopped so I switched to Jeff Beck's "You had it coming!" while we waited for a BNSF freight train before we could cross over to the station track.

After we left Gallup, we passed all of the red mesas of New Mexico. The Rolling Stones "Voodoo Lounge" was the next musical selection of the morning. At Grants, the music was switched to Jethro Tull "A Passion Play", followed by "Extra Thick as a Brick", the other Tull one- track album. That took me all the way to Albuquerque, at which we arrived ten minutes late. I detrained, first running into Conductor John Kennedy, then I saw Chris Parker. His flights via Phoenix had worked out and he took a city bus to the Alvarado Transportation Center next to the Amtrak station for just a dollar. Once we got onto the car, I showed Chris where to sit and we both returned to the 42 degree outdoor air.

We took some pictures of the New Mexico Railrunner.

While the Southwest Chief was being refueled during our station stop, Randy and his wife stopped by to visit with me. Randy rode with me on the Feather River Express earlier this year and would be doing our Saturday and Sunday trips. We talked until the all-aboard signal was given and the Southwest Chief departed Albuquerque ten minutes late. Chris went to the dining car for lunch and I went to the rear door for pictures of the semaphore signals in the Rio Grande Valley.

I forgot the signals just west of Lamy, so if all went right, I would photograph those on the return trip. We paused in Lamy before I returned to the back door for the trip through Apache Canyon through Canyoncito.

After that I went to the lounge car to visit with Chris and a few others passengers. I returned to my seat to get a dinner reservation, but could not get one because all the early ones had been given out. Since we were getting off at Trinidad, we would not be able to eat. In 956,000 rail miles, I have never, not been able to eat in a dining car on a train. Sam, the Dining Car steward, later found me, and gave Chris and I a 5:30 PM dinner reservation. After we traversed the "S" curves, I went to the back door for more semaphore action.

We met the westbound Southwest Chief at Sands.

I photographed semaphore signals until just west of Las Vegas. I returned to the lounge car while we did our station stop then returned to the rear door for the remaining semaphores.

Later we neared the edge of a storm which was supposed to be a blizzard in Colorado.

Wagon Mound.

Our train went by Wagon Mound and I photographed the last of the semaphores as we neared Colmer. I returned to the lounge car as the Southwest Chief headed straight into the blizzard. We arrived in Raton at 5:30 PM. Chris went outside into the snow and I went into the dining car to get seated for dinner. I was seated with Marcia and Bill going to Chicago, and Chris soon joined us. He had the Half-baked Chicken and I enjoyed the Pork Chop.

The snow continued to fall fast, getting deeper and deeper as we sat in Raton. The wheels of the Thruway Bus for Denver were just spinning and it provided an interesting show during dinner since it could not leave the platform. We left Raton and I finished up in the dining car just as the train entered the Raton Tunnel. I was back in my seat as we exited into Colorado and down the grade to Trinidad. Interstate Highway 25 was snowbound with traffic stopped, blocking the paths of the snowplows trying to open the road. Our train, on the other hand, had no problem making it up and over Raton Pass and all too soon Chris and I were standing downstairs with Conductor John Kennedy, as we pulled into Trinidad, where we detrained.

Trinidad 10/26/2006

Walking on the platform required boots and I was careful where I stepped, watching out for ice and water. At the parking lot, I the found the person from JJ Motors with the car, a Hyundai Sonata, with the trunk open. We were good to go and after we loaded our luggage in the trunk, he led us up the hill right to the Best Western Trinidad Inn. We checked and received a downstairs room. Someone else was trying to get a room since he could not go south, but got an offer of $150 at another hotel in Trinidad. We watched the Weather Channel with a "Big Go" for tomorrow's forecast which was sunny and clear. We relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the evening as the storm ended in Trinidad.

10/27/2006 We woke up and looked out the window saw a clear day for our trip north from Trinidad this morning. After a continental breakfast, we checked out of the Best Western Trinidad Inn and drove north on Interstate 25. Just outside of Walensburg, we spotted a northbound BNSF coal train and decided to take a picture of it.

We took Colorado Highway 10 and set up east of town for the train which looked great in the bright sunshine running over the fresh snow. After a couple of pictures, we were back on Interstate 25 bound for Pueblo. We exited at 1st Street which we took west to Union Avenue and turned left. At B Street, we turned right and there was Pueblo Union Station. We parked and walked to the north end where we found the Pueblo Railway Museum.

Pueblo Railway Museum 10/27/2006

A CB&Q {C&S} 10538 Wooden Caboose and sign welcomed Chris and I to the Pueblo Railway Museum.

A unique looking box car

A Great Northern Express Car 2649.

DOT U-30-C 001.

A Colorado & Wyoming {C&W} 100 Caboose is also the gift shop.

C&W GP-7 104.

A short C&W caboose 3.

A narrow gauge wooden box car.

Passenger cars from both Via Rail of Canada and Amtrak.

A USRA Test Car.

C&W GP-7 103.

UP power switching one end of the Pueblo Yard.

CF&I GE 44 Ton Switcher.

Santa Fe 4-8-4 2912.

CF&I GE 25 Ton 3 foot narrow gauge switcher.

Another view of C&W GP-7 104.

Observation Car.

Rio Grande Box Cars 67508 and 67996

A former US Army 284 Crane.

A Rio Grande Caboose 1432.

Missouri Pacific Caboose 1234.

C&W Caboose 3.

Overview of the museum area.

BNSF 95168 Dining Car.

An ASFX Car also used as their Haunted House

BNSF 95164 Kitchen Car.

An ex Amtrak car.

Amtrak Slumbercoach Toledo Harbor ex NYC 10379.

After these views, I wanted a larger view of the museum area and noticing the bridge to the east, I walked around some buildings and up to the bridge. I took a picture from the Union Avenue bridge over the tracks and the Arkansas River. After I took these pictures, I saw Chris speaking to someone so I hurried back and saw Chris up in the cab of C&W GP7 104. Inside, I met Ron of the Pueblo Railway Museum. We talked about the museum and their plans for a new home and more track for their excursion run. He had tried to start 104 earlier this morning so we could get a ride but the engine would not kick over because of the cold temperatures. We thanked Ron for having us and had to leave this very interesting railroad museum.

Chris needed to call the business he runs so we drove around Pueblo until we spotted a telephone. After he finished we headed north up Interstate 25 stopping at a Shell station in Fountain where I got a candy bar and Chris sent a fax. We drove north into Colorado Springs, exiting on Fillmore Street, then turned right over the Joint Line and right again onto Steel Drive Road, until we reached the end at the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway.