1968 was the final year of revenue steam operations on the DRG&W as trains operated over the narrow gauge from Alamosa to Farmington via Chama and Durango. Trains would arrive in Alamosa and loads were transferred to the narrow gauge cars for forwarding west. The oil and gas boom of the 1950’s prolonged the steam operations as the D&RGW delivered loads of pipe and drilling supplies. This 8mm footage and slides were shot in the last half of 1968 when the last narrow gauge operation was winding down. In fact, you’ll see the last steam operation on any Class One railroad in the United States. The first run was a K28 hauling the first shipment of the year to Farmington from Durango. The next day we chase 498 with empty cars toward Chama. On the third day see 3 engines in Chama, and chase 483 with 493 back up Cumbres Pass toward Alamosa. This was the first run of freight up Cumbres Pass for 1968.
Later we pick up more runs from Ernie Robart including runs in June, July and August (Last run of 483 to Farmington is shown), plus odd moves in the fall, before seeing the final run from Alamosa on December 31,1968 which was 473 and 483 with a dead 481 and some coaches, and parts. This would be the final Rio Grande Steam train westbound from Alamosa, and ultimately the last train to operate between Chama and Durango. We end the show with shots of 473 in the Gato area on that last day heading to Durango. Of course today the Cumbres and Toltec remains, along with the Durango and Silverton, both of which were part of the former Rio Grande’s 4th Subdivision over Cumbres pass. This DVD has a lot of interesting long-gone scenes, and allows one to peer into the history that was the final year of steam operations. Not only was it important because it was the last Denver and Rio Grande Western steam on the narrow gauge, but it was the last steam anywhere in the U.S. for a class one railroad. It was indeed the end of an era!
Please note: There is no actual steam sound on this DVD, it is music and narration. There was no soundtrack on the original film and no sound has been dubbed in.