DRGW History and Information  

  Trip Report: San Luis Express - Chapter 2
  La Veta and Return
The Festivities at La Veta and the Return Trip to Alamosa
  From: San Luis Express Dates: Feb 9, 2006 Author: Nathan Holmes


Photo 18
First on the agenda after arriving was another ribbon-cutting ceremony with local and railroad officials. Here's Steven Perkins, President of the La Veta Cuchara Chamber of Commerce, with the mic. Ed Ellis, President of Iowa Pacific (the SL&RG's parent company) is on the right in the blue blazer.
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Photo 19
With the crowd starting to thin after about twenty minutes, they back up to move onto the siding for turning the train around.
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Photo 20
Backing onto the wye with the Caritas. The wye tail is only long enough for the car, so the power will drop it and then come down the other leg to tie on for the return trip.
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Photo 21
Down the wye they go... As for the mystery guy with his rear in the shot, he was some sort of official videographer along for the trip.
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Photo 22
All turned and coupled up, they're ready to pull around the wye and back into the depot to pick up the guests returning to Alamosa
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Photo 23
Here we go - the ILSX 1389 (ex-Kennecott GP39-2 797) is slowly brought over the light 90 pound rail on the west leg of the La Veta wye
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Photo 24
Back on the main at the depot platform, they start loading up the returning passengers. The depot is the original 1876-1877 D&RG structure, now the town hall.
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Photo 25
The south side of the La Veta depot
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Photo 26
And the north (track) side, looking southeast. The banner reads: La Veta Welcomes SL&RG!
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Photo 27
A few of the NARCOA folks are here too - the Rocky Mountain Division is trying to work out a motorcar ride over the La Veta line in the near future.
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Photo 28
Out of La Veta at 1430h, we see the train starting upgrade a few miles west of town.
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Photo 29
With the Caritas blocking the crossing, the train comes to a stop. (Yes, I'm the guy that tripped over the wire buried in the weeds and went flying only to land shoulder first on the gravel road.)
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Photo 30
Turns out, one of the Caritas' generators needs a jump. Unfortunately, I didn't have any jumper cables, but Becky Osterwald (daughter of Doris Osterwald, author of the D&S and C&TS mile-by-mile guides) was able to help out.
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Photo 31
All hooked up, it apparently works after a few minutes of charging and the train is off westward again
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Photo 32
Nearly two hours later, at 1630h, the train comes into view once again where US 160 and the railway join up on the west side. They pull to a stop to let two passengers down from the cab so they can catch a ride back over the pass by car.
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Photo 33
A few miles to the west, the line rounds an impressive few curves while following the Sangre de Cristo Creek watershed.
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Photo 34
While the line might be almost to the valley floor, there's still some impressive scenery just east of Fort Garland.
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Photo 35
Here's a piece of 85 pound CF&I rail from 1896 in the siding at Fort Garland. This was likely installed even before the line was converted to standard gauge!
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Photo 36
Coming into Fort Garland, passing over the east switch
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Photo 38
Here we are west of Blanca, where the San Luis Southern used to interchange with the Rio Grande. Today, a few tracks remain in the weeds, and the SLS's one-of-a-kind homebuilt diesel rusts away in the weeds a few hundred yards south of here.
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Photo 39
While waiting on the train between Blanca and Alamosa, the sun finally slipped behind the mountains. I just happened to like the shot, so I threw it in. Honest, it's a sunset, no matter how much it looks like somebody nuked Antonito.
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Photo 40
Once the sun goes, it goes very quickly because of the mountains. However, when 1389 showed up a minute later, there was still sun hitting the top of Blanca Peak in the distance.
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Photo 41
Passing the last few miles in twilight
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Photo 42
The day's special run gets back to Alamosa at 1745h. Waiting in the yard is the eastbound turn that will run over to the UP interchange at Walsenburg.
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Photo 43
Back at the downtown Alamosa yard, Caritas pulls across State Street. Literally a minute after they clear the switch, 804 and crew will head east with the day's freight.
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Creative Commons License This work is copyright 2006 by Nathan D. Holmes (maverick@drgw.net), but licensed under a Creative Commons License. This allows and encourages others to copy, modify, use, and distribute my work, without the hassle of asking me for explicit permission or fear of copyright violation. I encourage others to consider CC or other Open Content-style licensing of their original works.

All photographs in this trip report were taken with a Canon EOS 20D using either a Canon 28-105mm USM or a Canon 75-300mm f4-5.3 IS/USM.