|At the time I was on a typical rail fan’s journey in Colorado, visiting the Durango & Silverton, the Georgetown Loop Railroad, and others, but it was the Cumbres & Toltec that really got to me. When I returned home I sent a check for membership in the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec. Through this organization I learned more about the good and bad times for this particular 64 miles of narrow gauge railroad, and the unlikely and remarkable story about how it was saved by a coalition of rail fans, historians and local folks who convinced the states of Colorado and New Mexico to purchase the line in 1970. The Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec support the railroad and its historic elements by contributing funds, and more importantly, volunteer labor to restore and maintain rolling stock, trackside signs and structures, and interpret its history with its docent program. Every year since I send a check to renew my membership and occasionally a little more for special projects, but I have not been an active volunteer.
Fast-forward about ten years, I started our little company, Yard Goat Images, and began my dream career of producing DVD programs featuring steam locomotives, early diesels, electric traction, miniature railways, tractors and more. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling around the country and parts of Canada recording these favorite subjects of mine, but kind of avoided the Cumbres & Toltec. Why was that? To be honest, there have been so many DVDs about the C&T, I didn’t think it was wise for me to invest my travel budget and time to produce a program that would likely not earn a profit.
But I could’t get the Cumbres & Toltec out of my head.
To sell our DVDs we travel to many Model Railroad Shows around the Midwest where we set up our display. It’s a combination of selling DVDs, getting people to be aware of us, and getting to know folks and what types of railroad experiences they enjoy. I don’t know how many times people have told me about their trips to ride the Durango & Silverton, then find out they’ve never been to (or even heard of ) the Cumbres & Toltec. I often find myself explaining that the Durango & Silverton and the Cumbres & Toltec were once directly connected as part of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway’s narrow gauge San Juan Extension.
Great project Steve! My father was one of the original train engineers when the scenic train division started in Chama. I truly lived a Tom Sawyer life. Our home was in the train yard and on occasion the caboose was our home , we would travel along as the tracks were being repaired during off peak season. I truly appreciate the fact you have been able to archive this great piece of American culture!