DRGW History and Information  

  Trip Report: D&S 2006 Winter Photographers' Special - Chapter 2
  Sunday Afternoon
Up to Needleton and Back to Durango
  From: D&S 2006 Winter Photographers' Special Dates: Feb 19, 2006 Author: Nathan Holmes


Photo 18
Next photo run-by - Tall Timber Resort! Here are most of the special's 130 passengers
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Photo 19
Tall Timber was a tough shot due to the harsh light from an awkward angle. The train is very near the spot of the staged crash in the 1951 movie Denver & Rio Grande that destroyed D&RGW 319 and 345.
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Photo 20
About a mile below Cascade is the concrete wall. The 1970 flood obliterated the grade through here, and the D&RGW built this retaining wall to protect the track during future flooding.
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Photo 21
Another, wider view of the concrete fill area. On the first take, the wind blew the smoke over the train, obscuring it from view. This is the second take.
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Photo 22
Continuing north, the train passes through one of the many tight curves in the canyon above Cascade
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Photo 23
The next run-by was at the Needleton Slide area (mp 482.8). This is a famous avalanche spot, often finding the tracks buried under 40-60 feet of snow during years of heavy snowfall. There's no such danger on this dry year.
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Photo 24
The second pass at the Slide area, as seen from the northwest side. The sign in the background reads - "Needle Creek Canyon"
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Photo 25
This is one example of the majestic peaks found to the east of the railway through this stretch, as part of the Needle Mountains
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Photo 26
A surprise photo stop at mp 483.7 - this is Dieckman's Curve, honoring the engineer that encountered a sun kink near here in 1951 and put D&RGW 473 in the river. Nobody, including the 473, reportedly suffered any lasting harm from the incident.
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Photo 27
Near the run-by site is this old, very light piece of rail, ripped from the railway and washed into the Animas decades and decades ago by some unknown flood.
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Photo 28
Believe it or not, this is nearly the same spot as the previous two, except much closer to the track and looking south as the train backs up.
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Photo 29
Needleton Tank is the only other original wooden water tank on the route, besides the oft-photographed Hermosa
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Photo 30
481 pulls up under the spout. The spout doesn't do a darn thing, last I knew. Needleton Tank was replaced by one of those ugly but functional tank car tanks (like Tank Creek) about 200 feet up the track. The D&S and CHS cosmetically restored the original tank in 2004.
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Photo 31
After reaching the northernmost point for the year's excursion - the Needleton tank - we stopped for another run-by at a curve about 1.5 miles south
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Photo 32
481's blowing a little black smoke as she charges through the photo shoot
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Photo 33
The Brakeman helps position the train so that he can get us all loaded back on board. After that, we'll be in for a long reverse shove to the Cascade Creek wye in order to turn around.
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Photo 34
A look back at a few of the Needle Mountains
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Photo 35
This restored telegraph/telephone/telegraphone (one of the three...) shack remains between Cascade and Needleton. Remember this one, since we'll see another one later.
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Photo 36
Having gotten turned around at Cascade, we're now headed south down the branch
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Photo 37
Our next photo run-by was at the reverse curves, just above Tacoma. This section used to be much straighter, but was washed out and hastily rebuilt in 1970
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Photo 38
Between the train and the river, you can see the quickly-built retaining wall made out of old rail and rip-rap
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Photo 39
Doing this shot last year, I was up above my knees in a snow drift. This year? Dry.
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Photo 40
Our final stop of the day was on the famous horseshoe curve on the High Line. Unfortunately, the shadows of the canyon walls are growing long, as it's almost 1600h
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Photo 41
The train backs up to allow us all the shot of it perched high above the river below
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Photo 42
While we're here, the crew gets together to pose in front of 481. Thanks to all of you for putting on such a great trip!
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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.