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• Chama to Antonito

See Also

• Tour Introduction
•
Golden CRM
•
Caρon City 
•
Alamosa D&RG
•
Chama C&TS
• Durango D&S
•
Dolores RGS
•
Cimarron D&RG
•
Leadville LC&S
•
Fairplay DSP&P
•
1994: GTL
•
2004: GTL
•
Pike’s Peak

• Site Navigation

Colorado Narrow Gauge Circle Tour
Part 5: Chama to Antonito

The trip on the C&TS can be divided into 3 parts: climbing the 4% grade to the summit of Cumbres Pass, the downhill glide on the 2% grade along Toltec Gorge, and the relatively flat romp across the lava prairie and aromatic sage brush to Antonito. The uphill climb features double-headed K-37’s, which have to split up temporarily to cross Lobato trestle. Sharp mule-shoe curves gain altitude by following side valleys to return 30 or 40 feet above the starting point. At Cumbres, the lead engine turns on the wye to return dead-head to Chama for another helper run.

Before embarking, you need an hour or two to explore and photograph the yard facilities and locomotibe preparations. Rise early to get it all.

 


Chama Depot

    

After a healthy lunch at Osier dining hall, the train edges along Toltec Gorge and Rio de los Piños, some 400 feet below. Photos cannot give the full sense of depth seen by the naked eye. This portion of the route is sometimes called the “High Line”, but other railways used the term too. Rock Tunnel and Mud Tunnel (supported by wood lining) are shortcuts through headland that could not be circumnavigated. As the Gorge rises and the train drops into the valley, large herds of cattle are found grazing.

The final run into Antonito seems a little boring by comparison, but it gives a better impression of the typical train ride of the narrow gauge era between 1880 and 1950. It wasn’t romantic, comfortable, or scenic in those days – just a necessity.

On the drive from Antonito to Durango via Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek Pass, we sidetracked back to Chama for dinner at Viva Vera’s Mexican Kitchen – it was worth the extra miles. Photos below are mostly from 1994, a few from 2004.


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Websites of Interest
http://www.cumbrestoltec.org/

Continue to Part Six