Cumbres & Toltec Scenic
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Welcome To The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Shops Web Site
A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT WHAT IT TAKES TO KEEP THE C&TSRR RUNNING
A journey on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is one of the premier train riding experiences to be found anywhere in the world. From the mid-morning departure until arrival in the afternoon, passengers are treated to a constantly changing view of nature in a magnificent mountain setting. They also experience a form of travel that has been long gone for over half a century.
When the trip is over, the riders return to their homes with many pleasant memories to savor. For the railroad however, the activity continues. Running a steam powered mountain railroad is a twenty-four hour a day operation. After the day's journey is over, there is much to do before the next journey can begin tomorrow.
The powerful steam locomotives must be made ready for their next journey. This includes a thorough inspection and any needed repairs or adjustments. It also includes cleaning the fire, removing the ashes, and a complete lubrication of the running gear. Coal, water, and sand must be replenished, and once all is completed, the fire in the boiler is maintained throughout the night by a night watchman. At dawn the locomotive servicing is completed by the shop crew before the next journey begins at mid-morning.
The train itself also receives attention after each trip. The cars are cleaned, serviced, and safety equipment is inspected. The train is switched, and cars are added or removed as needed for the next day's passengers. The next morning a final inspection is made, and everything is tested once the locomotive is coupled to the train.
The railroad itself receives constant attention to insure the trains can make their journeys safely and comfortably. Travelers often get a glimpse of the track workers as they pass them, but after a friendly wave is exchanged, the workers continue their never ending efforts to keep the railroad in good condition. This activity continues year round--long after the trains have stopped running.
Once the operating season is over, the activities change, but they never stop. The steam locomotives receive their heavy maintenance. Boilers are inspected and renewed, and running gear is overhauled to put the old steamers in top operating condition for the next season's work. The cars are also overhauled to make them comfortable for next year's travelers. Snow covers the most mountainous portions of the route during the winter, but track maintenance continues in the open areas throughout the off-season. When spring arrives, the remaining snow is removed and the track inspected in preparation for opening day in May. The pace picks up in Chama and Antonito, and the final work is done on the locomotives and cars. At last Opening Day arrives, and the new season begins. Many more thousands of riders will again have the chance to experience one of the greatest train trips in the world.
Throughout the year, whether during the operating season or the off-season, nature is close to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The southern San Juan Mountains are alive with wildlife, and riders are treated to a continuous, up-close look at the animals and plants that make the area special. Nature remains year round and long after the trains have ended their journeys, it can still be seen. Deer can be found grazing on the station grounds, eagles and other birds continually fly over the train yards, and even the village fox makes his nightly rounds to make certain that all is well.
Journey with us now as we follow
the yearly activity of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in pictures.