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  Trip Report: San Luis Express - Chapter 1
  Eastbound to La Veta
Morning with the San Luis Express from Alamosa to La Veta
  From: San Luis Express Dates: Feb 9, 2006 Author: Nathan Holmes


Photo 1
0830h finds our train at the old D&RGW Alamosa Depot, with ILSX 1390 and 1389 on the front. The guests are starting to gather on the back side of the equipment.
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Photo 2
The passenger car for today's trip will be 800045, High Iron Travel's Caritas
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Photo 3
Everything coupled together - let the ceremonies begin!
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Photo 4
A sign on the flank of 1390 announces the two new trains to start this summer - the San Luis Express over the La Veta line, and the Toltec Gorge Limited, linking Alamosa to the C&TS connection at Antonito
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Photo 5
Alamosa speeches and ribbon-cutting over, the train gets underway eastbound around 0930h. Here it is just east of the Alamosa east yard.
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Photo 6
The first 25 miles out of Alamosa look roughly like this - arid, nearly desert-like plain covered in scrub.
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Photo 7
Before entering the mountains on the east side of the valley, the line traverses two small towns - Blanca (seen here) and Fort Garland
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Photo 8
East of Blanca, it's still flat, but at least the mountains are just ahead.
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Photo 9
East of Fort Garland, the scenery starts to change as the line follows Wagon Creek up towards Veta Pass
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Photo 10
Near here, the old narrow gauge route used to branch north to go over old La Veta Pass, near where the highway is today. Very near here was Russell - the second one, the original being up the narrow gauge a few miles.
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Photo 11
The new route launches off to the south, passing through remote, beautiful (but private) property with few roads. This is the last we'll see of the train until the east side.
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Photo 12
The first sighting of the train on the east side is high on a hillside above Occidental.
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Photo 13
The railroad makes a long u-turn through the canyon at Occidental to descend from the pass. Here, on the eastern side, the train runs along in the shadow of the westernmost of the two Spanish Peaks
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Photo 14
Just another fill on the way down from the east side of the pass.
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Photo 15
Nearly down, the brakes are showing they're a little hot from the trip. The nearly perfect pyramid mountain (at least from this angle) in the background is Mount Mestas.
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Photo 16
I didn't quite beat them back to the crossing in La Veta, but here's the special at the very western edge of town.
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Photo 17
Arriving at La Veta, the whole area seems very excited about this new train, and it seems everyone for miles around turned out for the event. Parking was at such a premium that I had to park three blocks away and missed the train coming in...
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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.