DRGW History and Information  

  Trip Report: A Narrow Gauge Weekend - Chapter 1
  Friday on the D&S
Friday, 4-Dec-2009
  From: A Narrow Gauge Weekend Dates: December 4-5, 2009 Author: Nathan Holmes


Photo 1
Running a bit behind on the drive over from Alamosa, we meet the daily Cascade Canyon train between Home Ranch and Hermosa, next to this half-frozen pond.
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Photo 2
K-36 482 has been temporarily relettered from the usual Durango & Silverton for the railroad's yearly Polar Express theme trains.
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Photo 3
Friday morning was cold, even by the standard of winters in the Rockies. When we got in the car in Alamosa, it was nine below. By the time we took this at Hermosa, I believe it was above zero, but not by much. The cold temperatures do wonders for causing the exhaust steam to instantly condense into a thick plume.
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Photo 4
Rounding a curve just below the US Hwy 550 bridge, between Hermosa and the Shalona crossing
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Photo 5
A wider view of the previous shot. The extreme southern light that happens this time of year makes shooting north/westbounds a tough proposition this time of year.
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Photo 6
Pulling through Rockwood under beautifully blue skies. There will be no stop here today - the train is headed straight through the cut and on to the High Line. For us, it means it's back to Steamworks in Durango for lunch.
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Photo 7
Following the Cascade train will be maintenance of way in DSNG pop car 9003. They're loading up batts of insulation for some sort of winterizing project up the line.
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Photo 8
Also at Rockwood is the D&S's ballast regulator, receiving some work on the rear axle.
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Photo 9
482 brings the train back from Cascade Canyon along the famous High Line.
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Photo 10
Just a slightly wider shot on the High Line
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Photo 11
We'd heard the train crew ask about water availability at Hermosa on the way up (and they hadn't stopped), so we assumed they'd be taking water on the way back and we'd get a nice long telesmash of them at the tank. Wrong assumption - they highballed right through the Hermosa, causing us to rethink our setup.
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Photo 12
A quick recomposition gave me this image of 482 emerging from the end of the wooden pony truss just south of Hermosa
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Photo 13
Just across the flats after leaving Hermosa for Durango
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Photo 14
Running across the valley floor, the line and the highway make one small turn between Hermosa and the north end of Durango. While normally I don't shoot it, it provided a nice afternoon head-on shot thanks to my 100-400.
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Photo 15
Pacing the 482 at track speed as it approaches Home Ranch siding
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Photo 16
At Home Ranch siding, you can see what a beautifully clear afternoon it really is in southwestern Colorado. Note that the Needle Mountains are plainly visible in the background.
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Photo 17
Beautiful light showing off the 482 in Polar Express lettering against the red cliffs behind Home Ranch
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Photo 18
And then departing the south end of the siding, headed towards the north end of Durango
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Photo 19
One last shot in the fading daylight, taken on the lesser-shot side of the Animas River bridge just north of downtown Durango.
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Photo 20
On the way into Durango that morning, Nathan Z had noticed a string of narrow gauge cars sitting in somebody's yard north of US 160. After the chasing was done for the day, we stopped back by for some photos. This is D&RGW narrow gauge stock car 5627.
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Photo 21
In the middle of the string is D&RGW 784. Fellow gon 899 is way back in the guy's yard, nearly out of sight.
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Photo 22
And bringing up the south end is boxcar D&RGW 3000. Best I can tell, all of these cars were sold at auction by the DSNG several years back when they cleaned out the north yard. No idea whose yard they now sit in, but the two that are all fixed up are nicely done.
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Photo 23
We also detoured to see the former DRGW Florida River span, now in use as a county road bridge.
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Photo 24
A low view in the afternoon light, showing the limestone abutments and wing walls underneath.
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Photo 25
The Royal Gorge Route logo is still visible on the west end of the bridge. That's it, folks - on to Chama!
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Creative Commons License This work is copyright 2010 by Nathan D. Holmes (maverick@drgw.net), but licensed under a Creative Commons License. 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 40D using either a Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS/USM, Sigma 18-50mm, or a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS/USM.