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    Posted Monday, February 27 2006 at 0902 h MST
    As many of you have emailed to remind me, contrary to my predictions of gloom and doom, 5371 survived its 92-day inspection without being patched. The last Grande unit is now safe until the beginning of May, barring major failures that would send it back. I spent a couple days in Helper on my way out to the D&S 2006 Winter Photo Special, so I have photos of it both pushing a train on Friday and running up to the summit and back on a Friday work train.

    I've gotten a bit behind on the news lately - too many things in my real life to stay caught up with. Plus, I've been working on new content around here, so be patient. I've got a bunch of timetables lined up for scanning (1950s-1960s), along with station lists and some various view books, etc. I'm working on the new Routes section to give a brief history of each of the major D&RG/D&RGW segments. I've almost finished the steam roster, and I'm scanning a photo collection contributed by Nathan Zachman that has a good number of photos from the 1980s. Lots of good stuff coming in the next month or so, I promise! -

    Posted Wednesday, February 22 2006 at 0022 h MST
    I know I forgot to mention it as a news item around here, but last Sunday (19-Feb-2006) was the Durango & Silverton's Second Annual Winter Photo Special. As with the first one, I was there, camera in hand. This year was well worth going back for, as most of the photo run-bys were at new locations (including the High Bridge, the one I've been wanting for some time), and the train had 481 as power this year, rather than 473 in 2005. Photos from this year's run are posted in a new trip report. - NDHolmes

    Posted Saturday, February 11 2006 at 0101 h MST
    As reported, the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, in partnership with Dan Shank of the Denver & Rio Grande Historical Foundation (who owns the Creede Branch) ran a promotional trip over the La Veta Pass line on Thursday, 9-Feb-2006. The trip, primarily for the media and prominent local individuals, was designed to kick off two new tourist trains that will run over the railroad starting this summer. As of 24-May-2006, the San Luis Express is planned to start making regular trips over the pass from La Veta, CO, to Alamosa. A sister train, named the Toltec Gorge Limited, will provide service from Alamosa to Antonito, where it will connect with the regular Cumbres & Toltec Scenic narrow gauge trains. To learn more about the schedules or how to book your seats, keep an eye on their official website at www.alamosatrain.com. Help spread the word about this new and exciting run and help make Colorado's newest train a success.

    Of course the real press has plenty of good coverage. For example, see the Alamosa Valley Courier story, or the Denver Post version. (If anybody knows of others, please send in links and I'll add them.)

    I went down on Wednesday night and got up bright and early to capture this inaugural trip. I wound up following it all day on Thursday, both eastbound and westbound, making the complete loop from Alamosa to La Veta and back (and then back over the pass to get home). Photos from this trip, along with some additional information, can be found in the trip report. See here to start with the abstract from the trip, or get straight to the photos here. -

    Posted Tuesday, February 7 2006 at 2038 h MST
    DRGW 5371, the last Grande in pure DRGW paint, will be headed in for its regular inspection on 10-Feb-2006 (this Friday). I'm assuming this means that its last run will be on Thursday. Instructions are to get the unit patched, so odds are that this Friday or Saturday will mark the end of full-paint Rio Grande power running on home rails. Remember - get off those lazy rears, the last run isn't going to photograph itself! (Thanks to CPF for reminding me...) - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, February 6 2006 at 1614 h MST
    As most of you recall, the RGRPC called it quits at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic in early November 2005, leaving the railroad once again without an operator. Several things have happened since then that should assure a 2006 season, hopefully one that will mark a turning point. The first is that Governor Richardson of New Mexico removed Rey Medina from the Commission and replaced him with Dave Cargo on 24-Jan-2006. Cargo was Governor of New Mexico when the line was purchased from the Rio Grande, and has always been a friend and supporter of the line.

    For the first time in a while, Colorado is back in the game financially. Governor Owens of Colorado has pledged at least $500,000 for the railroad this season, as well as to look into what it's going to take to sustain the historic property over the long haul. Much of the credit here goes to Colorado State Senator Lewis Entz, from Hooper, CO, for his efforts to keep the issue in front of Owens.

    Finally, last Friday (3-Feb-2006), the Commission resolved some of the urgent issues to make the 2006 season a reality. Most importantly, they selected a new operator on a one year contract. The new operator will be a group of individuals from the Friends known as the C&TS Management Corp. Also decided were the issues of the RGRPC's assets, which will be acquired in total for $85k, and the reservations system, which reportedly will be built by the D&S's Mac Patterson. (Update 2/6 - 1845h): Apparently the reservation system is not a done deal - no more details at this time. -

    Posted Friday, February 3 2006 at 1312 h MST
    The Colorado State Historical Fund will provide $51,000 for continuing restoration work of Denver & Rio Grande Western #315, according to a press release in the Durango Herald. 315 is a narrow gauge, Baldwin-built, class C-18 2-8-0 steam locomotive being restored by the Durango Railroad Historical Society. Originally built as Florence & Cripple Creek #3 in 1896, it eventually became D&RG 425, a Class 72, in 1917. In 1924, it became D&RGW 315, and in 1950 it was donated by the railroad to the Durango Rotary Club. In 2000, the DRHS started on restoring the unit, which has been outside in a park since its original donation.

    The restoration should bring 315 back to fully operational status, and is expected to be completed this spring. According to the press release, they're hoping to have the unit ready to go for Railfest 2006. -

    Posted Friday, February 3 2006 at 1054 h MST
    I received confirmation this morning that the new Iowa Pacific-owned San Luis & Rio Grande has plans to start tourist passenger service over La Veta Pass, from La Veta to Alamosa, and then south from Alamosa to the C&TS terminal at Antonito. There will be a publicity run next week to test things out. Almost everything I've heard so far says that the run will be on Thursday, 9-Feb-2006, but a Pueblo Chieftain article printed Friday claims the run will be on Wednesday, 8-Feb-2006. The plan is for the train to leave Alamosa around 0900h, run east to La Veta, arriving around 1230h, and then return to Alamosa. I'll pass more information along as I officially receive it, but right now I'd bet on the 9th. Update (2/3 - 1107h): See yet another press release on the La Veta Cuchara Chamber of Commerce website here. - NDHolmes

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