DRGW History and Information  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Anyone who's been following my trip reports for any length of time knows I have a fascination with the smaller, more obscure railroads, and when the opportunity came up to make two trips to New Mexico and Arizona within a few months, I jumped on it. A little over a year ago, I published a trip report on some of the the copper hauling shortlines of the Southwest. However, there were still several interesting little railroads that I didn't get a chance to touch on. The two top ones on my list were the Santa Fe Southern and the Grand Canyon Railway. Both of these lines owe their current existance, at least in part, to hauling a Southwest shortline's other best friend - tourists!

The first of the two unique shortlines we'll be visiting in this trip report is the Santa Fe Southern, or SFS. The SFS was born in 1992 of the ATSF's 18-mile, 125-year-old Santa Fe branch, running between its namesake town and the Raton main connection at Lamy, NM. While the corridor was recently sold to the State of New Mexico for trail and possible future commuter train use, the SFS continues as the designated operator, continuing to provide their successful tourist and freight service. Today, they have two first generation diesels, which, depending on the season, run a variety of pure passenger and mixed freight and passenger trains. During the winter, they run two of these mixeds every week. I was on my way to Phoenix, AZ, for work in late January, and stopped by Santa Fe to photograph the mixed on Saturday, 29-Jan-2005.

In the second half of the report, we'll take a look at my two visits to the Grand Canyon Railway. The GCRy is a remarkable rebirth story, taking the ATSF's former Grand Canyon line and rebuilding it into a wildly successful tourist hauler. The line was originally built to serve copper mining interests, but when those failed to pan out, the Santa Fe saw the tourist potential of the Canyon and began aggressively developing that potential. By the late 1960s, though, passenger service fell to only a few thousand people every year, and service was discontinued. The line was given up for good in 1974, and sat essentially idle until 1988. In that year, a local investor got involved, purchased the line, and turned it from sixty-five miles of weed-infested, abandoned track to a world class, steam-powered tourist railroad that hauled nearly 200,000 passengers in 2004 alone (almost three times the Santa Fe's best year). It has to be one of the most remarkable comeback stories in modern North American railroading.

We'll take two looks at the GCRY. The first time I stopped was on the return leg of my business trip to Tucson, where I managed to catch the northbound run, powered by a rare FPA-4 and FPB-4. Four months later on Memorial Day Weekend, my wife and I returned on vacation as customers, riding behind GCRY 29, an Alco 2-8-0, to the Grand Canyon and back. In addition to the rare fleet of Alcos, both diesel and steam, you'll see the GCRY's newest piece of power, a rebuilt ex-Amtrak F40PH #239 charged with pulling a section section of the daily train. The route is rather difficult to photograph, as it doesn't follow many roads, making following by car difficult, and is largely straight with broad curves, making it difficult to photograph from the train. Still, I've managed to assemble a decent set of photos to give you a general idea of the trip.

Thrown in for general interest and some relation to the area are looks at the excavation of the old ATSF engine house and first depot in Santa Fe, a few photos from the Copper Basin Railway, some of the BHP Arizona (former San Manuel Arizona) actually moving around in San Manuel, and a few other oddities of interest. I've tried to assemble some backstory on both of major lines in this report based on sources I had handy, and while I think they're correct, I'm always open to correction when I have errored. As usual, I hope you enjoy the trip report.

  May-2013 Reports
   Posted 24-May-2013 by NDH
  Dec-2012 Reports
   Posted 15-Dec-2012 by NDH
  Aug-2011 Reports
   Posted 09-Aug-2011 by NDH
  Jan-2011 Reports
   Posted 30-Jan-2011 by NDH
  May-2010 Reports
   Posted 30-May-2010 by NDH
  Mar-2010 Reports
   Posted 29-Mar-2010 by NDH
  Jan-2010 Reports
   Posted 03-Jan-2010 by NDH
  Nov-2009 Reports
   Posted 08-Nov-2009 by NDH
  Jul-2009 Reports
   Posted 12-Jul-2009 by NDH
  Jun-2009 Reports
   Posted 19-Jun-2009 by NDH
  May-2009 Reports
   Posted 03-May-2009 by NDH
  Dec-2008 Reports
   Posted 27-Dec-2008 by NDH
  Nov-2008 Reports
   Posted 29-Nov-2008 by NDH
   Posted 03-Nov-2008 by NDH
   Posted 02-Nov-2008 by NDH
  Sep-2008 Reports
   Posted 14-Sep-2008 by NDH
  Jul-2008 Reports
   Posted 13-Jul-2008 by NDH
   Posted 11-Jul-2008 by NDH
  Jun-2008 Reports
   Posted 10-Jun-2008 by NDH
  Apr-2008 Reports
   Posted 26-Apr-2008 by NDH
   Posted 15-Apr-2008 by NDH
  Mar-2008 Reports
   Posted 30-Mar-2008 by NDH
   Posted 13-Mar-2008 by NDH
  Dec-2007 Reports
   Posted 27-Dec-2007 by NDH
   Posted 02-Dec-2007 by NDH
  Oct-2007 Reports
   Posted 21-Oct-2007 by NDH
   Posted 07-Oct-2007 by NDH
  Sep-2007 Reports
   Posted 02-Sep-2007 by NDH
  Jun-2007 Reports
   Posted 06-Jun-2007 by NDH
  May-2007 Reports
   Posted 01-May-2007 by NDH
  Feb-2007 Reports
   Posted 22-Feb-2007 by NDH
   Posted 07-Feb-2007 by NDH
  Jan-2007 Reports
   Posted 13-Jan-2007 by NDH
  Dec-2006 Reports
   Posted 21-Dec-2006 by NDH
  Nov-2006 Reports
   Posted 13-Nov-2006 by NDH
  Oct-2006 Reports
   Posted 22-Oct-2006 by NDH
   Posted 02-Oct-2006 by NDH
  Sep-2006 Reports
   Posted 23-Sep-2006 by NDH
  Aug-2006 Reports
   Posted 28-Aug-2006 by NDH
   Posted 04-Aug-2006 by NDH
  Jul-2006 Reports
   Posted 15-Jul-2006 by NDH
   Posted 08-Jul-2006 by NDH
   Posted 02-Jul-2006 by NDH
  Jun-2006 Reports
   Posted 06-Jun-2006 by NDH
  May-2006 Reports
   Posted 08-May-2006 by NDH
  Mar-2006 Reports
   Posted 05-Mar-2006 by NDH
  Feb-2006 Reports
   Posted 21-Feb-2006 by NDH
   Posted 10-Feb-2006 by NDH
  Jan-2006 Reports
   Posted 19-Jan-2006 by NDH
  Oct-2005 Reports
   Posted 16-Oct-2005 by NDH
  Sep-2005 Reports
   Posted 21-Sep-2005 by NDH
  Aug-2005 Reports
   Posted 31-Aug-2005 by NDH
   Posted 11-Aug-2005 by NDH
  Jul-2005 Reports
   Posted 23-Jul-2005 by NDH
  Jun-2005 Reports
   Posted 28-Jun-2005 by NDH
   Posted 15-Jun-2005 by NDH
  Apr-2005 Reports
   Posted 26-Apr-2005 by NDH
   Posted 11-Apr-2005 by NDH
  Mar-2005 Reports
   Posted 03-Mar-2005 by NDH
  Oct-2004 Reports
   Posted 08-Oct-2004 by NDH
  May-2004 Reports
   Posted 31-May-2004 by NDH
  Apr-2004 Reports
   Posted 04-Apr-2004 by NDH
  Jan-2004 Reports
   Posted 11-Jan-2004 by NDH
  Nov-2003 Reports
   Posted 19-Nov-2003 by NDH
  Sep-2003 Reports
   Posted 24-Sep-2003 by NDH
  Aug-2003 Reports
   Posted 13-Aug-2003 by NDH
  Jul-2003 Reports
   Posted 30-Jul-2003 by NDH
  Jun-2003 Reports
   Posted 21-Jun-2003 by NDH
  Apr-2003 Reports
   Posted 19-Apr-2003 by NDH
  Feb-2003 Reports
   Posted 22-Feb-2003 by NDH
  Nov-2002 Reports
   Posted 11-Nov-2002 by NDH
  Oct-2002 Reports
   Posted 27-Oct-2002 by NDH
  Sep-2002 Reports
   Posted 28-Sep-2002 by NDH
  Aug-2002 Reports
   Posted 07-Aug-2002 by NDH
  Jun-2002 Reports
   Posted 22-Jun-2002 by NDH
  Apr-2002 Reports
   Posted 21-Apr-2002 by NDH
  Feb-2002 Reports
   Posted 19-Feb-2002 by NDH
  Jan-2002 Reports
   Posted 14-Jan-2002 by NDH
  Oct-2001 Reports
   Posted 06-Oct-2001 by NDH
   Posted 04-Oct-2001 by NDH
  Sep-2001 Reports
   Posted 02-Sep-2001 by NDH
  Jul-2001 Reports
   Posted 26-Jul-2001 by NDH
   Posted 16-Jul-2001 by NDH
  Jun-2001 Reports
   Posted 23-Jun-2001 by NDH
   Posted 15-Jun-2001 by NDH
   Posted 03-Jun-2001 by NDH
  May-2001 Reports
   Posted 22-May-2001 by NDH
  Apr-2001 Reports
   Posted 02-Apr-2001 by NDH
  Mar-2001 Reports
   Posted 10-Mar-2001 by NDH
  Feb-2001 Reports
   Posted 26-Feb-2001 by NDH
   Posted 18-Feb-2001 by MDP
   Posted 13-Feb-2001 by NDH
   Posted 04-Feb-2001 by NDH
  Dec-2000 Reports
   Posted 02-Dec-2000 by NDH
  Nov-2000 Reports
   Posted 24-Nov-2000 by NDH
  Oct-2000 Reports
   Posted 27-Oct-2000 by NDH
   Posted 26-Oct-2000 by NDH
   Posted 14-Oct-2000 by NDH
  Sep-2000 Reports
   Posted 30-Sep-2000 by NDH
   Posted 03-Sep-2000 by NDH
   Posted 06-Sep-2000 by NDH

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: First, we are absolutely a not-for-profit organization. We are also in no way affiliated with the former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, except for being fans. If you need transportation services on former Rio Grande lines, please contact Union Pacific. Our eventual goal is to provide a site which will host a variety of railroad information, both for railfans and modellers alike. Thanks to Benn Coifman for the Rio Grande font - it's available at RailFonts. Want to know more about us? Check the ABOUT page...