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San Juan Extension

The Narrow Gauge San Juan Extension of the Denver and Rio Grande Western from Alamosa, Colorado to Durango and onto to Silverton. The last reveune freight on the line was in 1968 however the section of line between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico is now presevered as a tourist line along with the scenic line from Durnago to Silverton.

SLRG 8542 (lettered for the 'Rio Grande') is seen leading the Antonito local on the Antonito branch which was Dual Gauge up until the late 60s - 27/08/2007

DRGW K-36 is seen leading extra 488 east into Antonito, Colorado - 07/09/2008

Moving onto what’s left of the once vast Narrow Gauge system Cumbres & Toltec K-36 #488 is seen with an evening extra at Los Pinos - 25/08/2007

DRGW K-36 488 is seen drifting downgrade with extra 488 east - 07/09/2008

487 is seen working westbound upgrade at Tanglefoot curve - 07/09/2008

487 is seen working westbound upgrade at Tanglefoot curve - 07/09/2008

C&TS #487 is seen heading west approaching the 10,017ft high Cumbres Pass after working up 40 miles or so of 1.41% on the east side of the pass - 25/08/2007

The west side of the Cumbres Pass is only about 10 miles long and as Chama is lower than Antonito the line is on a pretty constant 4% grade. Here #484 is seen approaching the summit after a hard climb up the 4% summit - 25/08/2007

After the long climb up from Chama 489 tops the summit of Cumbres Pass at an elevation of 10,017ft making it the highest through line in North America (until the Tennesse Pass reopens) - 07/09/2008

488 is seen at Cumbres Summit before working the freight onto Antonito - 07/09/2008

487 is seen coming down the 4% below windy point - 25/08/2007

Cumbres & Toltec K-36 #488 is seen storming up the 4% grade near windy point below the summit of the Cumbres pass at 10,015ft above sea level. The last Revenue freight over the line was in 1968 before the line between Antonito, Co and Chama, NM was sold to the states of Colorado and New Mexico to become a tourist operation – 25/08/2007

DRGW K-36 489 and 488 are seen working flat out on a freight climbing the 4% grades of Cumbres Pass below windy point - 07/09/2008

Cumbres & Toltec K-36 #487 is seen drifting down the 4% of the Cumbres Pass east of Dalton (of the 10 K-36s built as part of the modernisation scheme in 1924 and 9 are still around today and all of them at worked in new ownership and 8 are currently inservice where they were built to work 80 years before) - 25/08/2007

489 is seen working flat out up Cumbres Pass with 488 helping out in the middle of the train - 07/09/2008

484 is seen storming up the 4% grade at Dalton - 25/08/2007

489 is seen leading extra 489 east up the 4% grade near Dalton with 488 helping out in the middle of the train - 07/09/2008

DRGW K-36 489 is seen leading extra 489 east at Jukes Tree near Chama, New Mexico - 07/09/2008

The Silverton branch was completed in 1882 soon after the Rails of the San Juan extension over the Cumbres Pass reached Durango. Once Chama to Durango was abandoned the Rio Grande continued to operate an isolated Narrow Gaugetourist line until the 1980s until it was sold into private ownership. The line was upgraded in the 1980s to allow K-36s to operate. Here K-36 #486 is seen leading the first ‘Silverton’ of the day north at Hermosa – 28/07/2007

K-36 #481 is seen leading the first train of the day to Silveron at Hermosa, Colorado - 06/09/2008

K-28 is seen leading the 'Silverton' north at Hermosa, Colorado - 06/09/2008

486 is seen working up the 2.5% grade between Hermosa and Rockwood - 28/08/2007

K-36 #480 is seen working hard up the 2.5% between Hermosa and Rockwood near Rockwood - 28/08/2007

K-28 #478 is seen leading the 'Silverton' north naer Rockwood - 06/09/2008

All Photos © Copyright Jonathan Lewis and may not be re-used without permission. Please e-mail jonathan@milepost39.co.uk if you require a high resolution image.