(Chama NM to Antonito CO)
Right on schedule, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic train pulled out of Chama heading up into the mountains. It wasn’t long before we crossed over Wolf Creek on the Lobato Trestle; the first of four along the route. Tall pines and aspen trees soon crowded the tracks.
The first stop was at the depot in Cumbres CO with an elevation of 10,015ft. That was a steep climb from our start, and passing Windy Point put an exclamation mark on the accomplishment. A 4% decline took us into the station.
From Cumbres, we began a slow decent. Shortly afterward, the engine crew performed what is called a Blowdown releasing excess steam that was needed for the steep ascent. A huge white cloud poured forth as we rounded a rather sharp curve.
We passed by the Los Piños Water Tank, and then crossed over the Río de los Piños. Some more climbing took us over the Cascade Creek Trestle which was 137ft high. Soon we were were rolling into the halfway point at Osier Depot, where we got off to be fed a delicious lunch.
The second leg of the 64 miles trip went through two tunnels, creeped by rocky cliffs, and skirted the edge of the Toltec Gorge. Many severe curves, with names like Phantom and Whiplash, were needed for the downgrade taking us into Antonito. We also saw quarters for the maintenance crew at a place called Sublette. It was a marvelous train ride through some beautiful country.
Camp: Heron Lake SP-W Brushy Point drycamp
Scene: Train, trestles, tunnels, water tanks