The lines now operated by the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad were once
secondary and branch lines owned by the Denver & Rio Grande Western.
However, these lines were not part of its famous narrow-gauge mining
branches. Instead, they diverged at Alamosa (where the railroad's main
line to Santa Fe could also be found) reaching Creede to the west and
Walsenburg to the east. The town was also the D&RGW's base of
operations for its mining branches, as incoming traffic from those lines
were forwarded before being sent else. As such, Alamosa was a very
important location for the railroad at one time with through trains and
regional freight traffic all reaching the town.
The history of both routes date back to their opening by the Denver
& Rio Grande in the late 1870s. Today, the Rio Grande Scenic
Railroad operates between Monte Vista, Alamosa, and La Verta along a
route that stretches more than 80 miles. Additionally, they operate the
Rio Grande's line between Alamosa and Chama, New Mexico, which is
another 70+ miles in length. Overall the Rio Grande Scenic covers about
160 miles allowing the tourist line to offer visitors several different
|Rio Grande Scenic Railroad 2-8-0 #18 readies with an excursion at La Veta, Colorado on May 27, 2012. The Consolidation began its career on the Lake Superior & Ishpeming with the same number in 1910, built by Alco.|
One major reason for the railroad’s success so quickly has been due to
the stunning scenery of southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico
surrounding its trips along with its three different routes offered.
For power the RGSR currently employs two steam locomotives, a 2-6-0
Mogul (of Southern Pacific heritage) and 2-8-0 Consolidation,
#18, of Lake Superior & Ishpeming lineage. Also, they own another
former LS&I 2-8-0, #20, which is currently under restoration. Along
with its steam fleet the railroad also retains a small operational
fleet of General Electric B39-8E diesels, which are the true workhorses of the operation when their services are needed.
Via its three lines the railroad operates three different passenger trains including the San Luis Express which operates between Alamosa and La Veta on a two-hour trip; the Toltec Gorge Limited, which operates between Alamosa and Antonito on a complete round-trip between the two towns; and finally the Mote Vista Mixed
which travels between Alamosa and Monte Vista, with a one-hour layover
in Monte Vista. When departing your train from Alamosa you will do so
from the restored Rio Grande depot Please also be aware that the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's excursions offer a multitude of options. For instance, when departing Alamosa you can take a standard excursion or one which features a concert. There is also the option
of riding behind steam to Antonio, Colorado during mid-week, as well as
the choice of experiencing the dinner train hosted during the weekends.
This, of course, does not even include the special trains they operate
or various events ongoing throughout the year. For more information about the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad please click here
to visit their website.
|Rio Grand Scenic F40PH #459 lays over in the yard at Alamosa on May 26, 2012. The unit started out on Amtrak as #264 in 1977.|
It provides everything you need to know and questions which you may have covering the various special trains and events they host (if you may be interested in visiting the railroad I would definitely recommend doing so during the summer months as there are an unbelievable number of things one can do). Typically, their season runs between late spring and early fall although they also host holiday specials. If you would like to learn more about the history of the Denver & Rio Grande Western please click here. For more information about excursion trains like the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad you might want to consider the book Tourist Trains Guidebook, which is put together by the editors of Kalmbach Publishing's Trains