Travel back in time with us to explore the Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge operations between Alamosa, Chama, Durango and Silverton. These expertly shot 16mm films were accumulated by Clarence, Perry, and Jim Becker on several visits between 1957 and 1968. This is a nice mix of passenger and freight operations. The Beckers first ride the Durango to Silverton train in 1957, as their introduction to the Rio Grande. K27 number 464 is seen as the Durango yard engine, switching coaches in what would be its last season of operation. In 1961 the Becker brothers made a trip to narrow gauge land, and start by photographing a passenger special from Alamosa, and then west of Chama, photograph a double-headed freight toward Chama in the late afternoon, followed by more freight operations. Subsequent visits throughout the sixties bring us a nice variety of Durango activities with some excellent shots north of Rockwood along the spectacular High-Line where the train traverses the ledge high above the Animas River Canyon.
There is plenty of freight action, as we see doubleheaders out of Durango up Bocea hill, and headed east toward Chama. There is also a doubleheader seen Westbound between Arboles and Durango. Several runs up the 4% grade from Chama to Cumbres are shown, including more than one run in one day. On one trip the train with rear helper stalls, and the sections have to be split. There is doubleheader action from Alamosa to Antonito, where trains were split, and an engine inserted mid-train for the run west to Cumbres. On one such run from Alamosa we see the first run for engine 492, along with 484, after 492 was repaired from its collision with a huge boulder a month or so earlier near Navajo. This is a fine collection of images, and all on 16mm. Its 85% color, with only one section being black and white, which was due to a processing malfunction. Like 95% of all vintage films, there was no train sounds on the films, so we have added some nice music, and set-up narration about important aspects of the footage.