What a fun day! We’ve heard about this narrow gauge railroad for a long time and we finally got our ride.
This is the steam locomotive that is going to carry us over the 10,000’ pass between Antonito, CO and Chama, NM.
Here we are pulling out of the station. Lots of black smoke! The tender was full of a ton of large chunks of coal, and a skinny guy up in the engine was going to shovel all that coal, one shovel-full at a time, for the next 4 hours as we traveled over the mountains.
We started out in sagebrush country. Along the way we passed a herd of pronghorn antelope. (Those white dots are their little butts.)
This is origin of the phrase, “blowing off steam.”
Going higher and higher.
Bob and Sharon are checking out the view as we run along the very edge of the gorge carved out by the Rio de los Pinos a thousand feet below us. That’s the view over the side looking straight down!
We stopped for lunch at the very top of the route. There is a family that lives up there at the top of the world just to fix lunch for the train passengers. We had a festive turkey dinner, very good, and then loaded back up for the run down the other side of the mountains.
Because we would be riding our brakes all the way down the mountain, we were followed by a crew in a “speeder”, a little electric powered 2-person car that zipped along the track behind us. At one switchback there were cows who ran back and forth as the engineer blew the steam whistle to get them off the tracks. Look carefully at the track ahead of the steamer – poor guys didn’t have a steam whistle and there was a bull standing astride the track who probably weighed more than the steamer did. We don’t know how long they sat there, waiting for the bull to move, but we didn’t see them again by the time we got the station!
As we went down the hill, it started getting cold, clouding up and began to spit rain on us. Then the rain started feeling a little chunky – random hail bouncing on the deck. Then not so much rain and a whole lot more hail! Everyone abandoned the observation car for our warm seats inside.
After we got off the train, everyone loaded on the bus back to Antonito and 45 minutes later we were delivered back to our cars and the day’s adventure was over.