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    Posted Friday, June 25 2010 at 1210 h MDT
    For those of you coming here for information about the bridge fire on the Cumbres & Toltec, I'd just like to remind everyone that the railroad is still running despite the current crisis on the west end. Trains are running normally from Antonito to Osier, and there's some fine scenery on the eastern half of the line (the high desert, Phantom Curve, the Toltec Gorge - if you need more proof, go see my [489 in Green] trip report). Plus, you'll still get to eat Stephen's excellent cooking at Osier. The railroad and the surrounding businesses could really use the support right now, so if you have reservations, please still go down and ride. If you don't have reservations, then by all means - consider a ride on the C&TS if you have a spare day in your vacation plans. It's a spectacular trip on either side of the railroad. Reservations and trip details can be found on [the official website].

    Posted Thursday, June 24 2010 at 1120 h MDT
    Much of the decking on Lobato Trestle burned last night, severing the Cumbres & Toltec mainline. The initial reports came in to the fire department around 2300h, and the fire is still not out as of this morning. Based on photos shot from the highway posted on several railroad forums, it looks like the entire deck except for the southermost 50 feet is gone. Depending on the damage done by the heat, repairs may involve as little as re-decking the structure, or much more serious repairs to the beams below. Until fire crews can extinguish what's still burning, wrap up the investigation, and get a structural engineering assessment, we just won't know what work will be needed.

    Until repairs can be made, all departures on the railroad will be from the Antonito side of the line, proceeding as far as the lunch stop at Osier. Chama passengers will be given the option of being bussed over to Antonito and bussed back. The exception is today's Cinder Express train, which will run up to Lobato and back.

    The cause of the trestle fire is still under investigation. Some early reports said locals heard an explosion from up the valley. The NM State Patrol has stated that there were aerial fireworks in the area an hour or so prior, but it's not yet clear that there's any connection between the two events. Much more likely is just as you'd expect - a steam locomotives dropped something hot on a tie and it smoldering for a few hours before really lighting off. Like I said, though, investigations continue and the official cause is still undetermined, so when more facts emerge I'll post them.

    The official railroad press release can be found [here].

    Update (6/24-1036h): And we now have video, thanks to KRQE. The most interesting part is right at the end, where we see the main rails bowed out and broken. I'm guessing it got some pretty good heat at that point, as I woudl think it would take quite a bit to trigger that much distortion in the rail. The video can be found [here], and be sure to use the "Expand" button to get greater resolution.

    Update #2 (6/24-1648h): Roger Hogan posted a few photos taken last night of nearly the entire deck engulfed in flames. They're posted [here]

    Update #3 (6/24-2238h): KRQE has another video from their newscast available, this one with new angles of the damage. Take a look [here].

    Update #4 (6/25-1011h): The C&TS has Press Release #2 out [here]. Nothing really new in it for those that have been following this closely, but thought I'd post it for general interest.

    http://www.cumbrestoltec.com/img/uploaded/Lobato%20Press%20Release%202.pdf -

    Posted Tuesday, June 22 2010 at 2058 h MDT
    Roger Hogan announced a fall C&TS freight charter today on NGDF. The trip will be a two day event, as many of the fall charters have been in recent years. Since Chama Steam isn't running this year and 315 is doing Railfest on the D&S, this and the Goose are the only fall "railfan" specials on the C&TS I know of this year.

    The first day - Thursday, September 30 - will be a double-header out of Chama to Antonito, meeting a MoW train and RGS Goose 5 along the way. A bus will bring everyone back to Chama for the night.

    For day 2, a late morning bus out of Chama will get everyone to Antonito for an 1130h departure. The late departure should allow for a good number of different shots in the high desert of the eastern side of the railroad. Dinner will be Rock Cornish game hens served by Mr. Flowers up at Osier, so they're sure to be delicious. The train will then proceed on to Chama under the stars, and the evening will conclude with Michael Ripley holding a night shoot at Chama upon arrival.

    The price tag for all of this will come to $550, or $650 if you want a caboose seat. Details can be found in Roger's [NGDF announcement].

    Seriously guys, the wallet's dry and my credit cards are pleading for mercy. This had better be the last of the charter announcements this year, or I'm going to have to sell a kidney or some such to pay for it all. -

    Posted Tuesday, June 22 2010 at 2039 h MDT
    For those of you wondering what to do between Railfest and the C&TS 40th, never fear - the fine folks in Alamosa have just solved your problem. Earl Knoob hinted months ago that something was in the works for Thursday, 26-Aug-2010, and the announcement finally hit NGDF yesterday.

    The announced trip will consist of SLRG 18 (the former LS&I 2-8-0) and 4-5 heavyweight cars. The train will leave Alamosa at 0700h and head for La Veta on an all-day photo special. The price for this? An absolute bargain at $58, and that even includes a box lunch. See [this NGDF thread] for Earl's full write-up. -

    Posted Tuesday, June 22 2010 at 1412 h MDT
    Yes, the ATCS feed is down. No, I can't fix it right now - I'm out of town on vacation. The machine that serves it out of my house died last night about 2147h, and attempts by a friend of mine to revive it haven't gone well. So, until I get back and get a few spare hours to rebuild the machine, it's just down. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, June 22 2010 at 0215 h MDT
    While catching up on news from home, I noticed there's a wildfire burning east of Parkdale in the western part of the Royal Gorge. Based on the pictures in some of the news stories, the fire seems to extend from track level (on the Royal Gorge line) all the way up to the north canyon rim and beyond. Reports are that several structures, including one house, have already been lost, homes and businesses on the north rim have been evacuated (including the Royal Gorge park), and that US Hwy 50 is closed through the area.

    [KKTV's article] indicates the Fremont County Sheriff's Office told them that the fire started as several fires along the railroad tracks, so it's possible (though not yet confirmed) that the fires are related to railroad operations. The fire started around 1400h today, and currently has burned about 700 acres. -

    Posted Sunday, June 20 2010 at 0139 h MDT
    Fritz Klinke posted Thursday to NGDF that trackwork in Silverton has resumed to reconnect the Silverton Northern enginehouse to the Durango and Silverton. Photos can be found [here].

    315, upon return from Chama, will apparently be spending time in Durango having some work done and then be displayed in the D&S museum until Railfest. At the end of Railfest, it will take up residence in its new Silverton home. -

    Posted Sunday, June 20 2010 at 0133 h MDT
    For anybody who might be flush with cash and have the burning desire to own a former Grande T-2, Union Pacific will be selling (through their usual partner, Blackmon Auctions) nearly a hundred locomotives out of Denver on July 14, 2010. The list consists almost exclusively of SW1500s and SD40T-2s (many UP SD40-2TR rebuilds). The full list can be found [here].

    Former Grande SD40T-2s in the list include:
    • UP 2882 (ex-DRGW 5342)
    • UP 2883 (ex-DRGW 5344)
    • UP 2884 (ex-DRGW 5346)
    • UP 2885 (ex-DRGW 5351)
    • UP 2886 (ex-DRGW 5355)
    • UP 2888 (ex-DRGW 5357)
    • UP 2891 (ex-DRGW 5364)
    • UP 2894 (ex-DRGW 5366)
    • UP 2653 (ex-DRGW 5367)
    • UP 2697 (ex-DRGW 5369)
    • UP 2900 (ex-DRGW 5382)
    • UP 2901 (ex-DRGW 5396)
    • UP 9871 (ex-DRGW 5401)
    • UP 2934 (ex-DRGW 5411)

    Here's a few photos of the deadlines: [UP 2888 / ex-DRGW 5357], [UP 2891 / ex-DRGW 5362], and a [general dead line shot]. (Note: These were all taken deep within UP property with appropriate permission, safety gear, and escort last Friday during a Rocky Mtn Railroad Club tour of Burnham. Most of the dead lines aren't readily able to be photographed from public property.) -

    Posted Sunday, June 20 2010 at 0052 h MDT
    Union Pacific suffered some bridge trouble on the former Rio Grande main in Utah last week. A small bridge at 713.47 (the east end of American Fork, UT) sunk about five inches either late Monday or early Tuesday. The bridge was taken out of service, disrupting Amtrak's California Zephyr for several days. Fortunately the Utah Transit Authority's new commuter rail bridge - located immediately adjacent to the defective structure - was complete. As a temporary fix, UP installed shoo-fly trackage on Tuesday to route traffic over it instead while the former Grande structure is repaired/replaced.

    For Trainorders members, there are a few photos of the shoo-fly in [this thread].

    Posted Thursday, June 3 2010 at 2301 h MDT
    UP 5964 was leading an empty coal train at Hotchkiss, CO, today when it struck a bottom-dump semi trailer at the east end of town, where Colorado Highway 133 crosses the North Fork Sub. The truck driver stated that he found his braking was inadequate to stop the truck before the crossing, so he decided to try to get across instead. It didn't work out so well - the Eagle Pass (TX) to West Elk Mine empty struck mid-trailer and pushed the rig 100 yards down the line. Neither the crew nor the driver were injured, but the driver was cited for failure to stop at the crossing. The story can be found on the Grand Junction Sentinal website [here], and there are a number of pictures of the wreck on Flickr [here]. - NDHolmes

    Posted Thursday, June 3 2010 at 2108 h MDT
    Bill Gould has reported on NGDF that the June 18-21 RGS Goose 5 runs on the C&TS have been canceled on account of low ticket sales (apparently eight total). This seems to be confirmed by the absence of the trip on the C&TS' "Specials" page. The fall runs during the 40th Anniversary celebration are still on the site, though, so presumably there's still a chance to ride RGS 5 on the C&TS this year. - NDHolmes

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