By Robbi Ross, photos and editing by Mark Wing
The highlight of the tour to Chama was a ride on the historic Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. We assembled around 8AM in the Chama rail station parking lot. A bus would take us to the spot were we were to board the train in Antonito, CO.
Prior to boarding the bus, we were treated to a tour of the locomotive machine shops by John Bush (President of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad) who had given us an outstanding presentation on the railroad’s history and mission the previous evening.
Twenty-six tour members had train reservations with the Petersons and Azevedos electing to “chase” the train in their Model Ts. Our tour organizers had reserved a parlor car and caboose. The caboose included a cupola for a higher vantage point to enjoy the scenery. Also available was an open cattle car that was essentially a open area were you could stand with unencumbered views. Included in the parlor car was a nice Continental breakfast served by our hostess Denise.
Once leaving the Antonito, CO station, we were treated to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. This train ride, which averaged 12 mph and crossed the New Mexico/Colorado state lines 11 times, was like stepping back into history.
Lunch stop in Osier
Our tickets included a catered hot lunch at Osier. We feasted on meatloaf, turkey (with all the trimmings) and soup or salad bars. We ate heartily before the second half of the trip which was a return to Chama where we had parked our Model Ts earlier in the morning.
The Azevedo’s and Peterson’s had previously ridden the train and opted to “CHASE” the train on it’s run to Osier. Their adventure included a drive over Cumbres Pass, an elevation of 10,022 feet! From his vantage point on the road, Larry was able to take spectacular photos of the train and their cars.
After arriving back at Chama (approx. 4PM), it was time to take pictures of our cars with the locomotive. The Cumbres and Toltec Railroad staff were kind enough to flip the train around for us to optimize our photographs. After this, we visited a gift shop owned by the same fellow that owns the High Country Restaurant. Dinner that evening wasn’t scheduled so some tour members elected eat the leftovers from the previous night’s potluck while others dined out.