Closing Day of the 2002 C&TS Season

I hadn’t actually gotten the chance to do any railfanning at all in over a month, and so with the final weekend of 2002 season Cumbres & Toltec Scenic operations upon me, I decided to head out for southern Colorado. Well, actually it wasn’t quite that organized. Saturday dawned a beautiful day, but I hadn’t decided whether or not to head for Antonito. Aside from the C&TS there’s not much rail action in the San Luis on a weekend. So, I packed my bag and headed towards Walsenburg, hoping for a little action on the mainline.

As luck would have it, everything between Colorado Springs and Walsenburg on the Joint Line was absolutely dead. However, upon arriving at Walsenburg I heard a southbound BNSF coal load departing out the other side of town. By following BNSF 9956 east/south, I eventually found myself in Trinidad, and then out on the Twin Peaks subdivision headed for New Mexico. Somewhere in the late afternoon, 9956 stopped at Banela to meet 8987 west. At that point I turned around and followed it back. Not all in all a bad day exploring part of a subdivision I’d never seen before, and it became Chapter 1 of this trip report.

From there, it was on to Alamosa for the night. (The only complication being a stop to take my rear right wheel off to diagnose and repair a horrible screaching noise. Turned out to be caused by a rock lodged between the hub and brake caliper. What trip would be complete without truck problems?) After getting a little dinner, fresh video tape for the next day, I turned in for the night. After watching Air Force get whooped by Notre Dame on the TV, I called it a night and got some sleep.

The next morning, like any railfanning trip, dawned bright and early, and without a cloud in the sky. My goal was to be in Chama by 9, but as usual I was running about half an hour behind due to various things (including falling asleep again in the shower). So, I did the usual runs of following the eastbound train (with a double-header) out of Chama, grabbing lunch, and following the light unit back down the hill. At that point, Chama was clouded over and getting a little bit of rain, so after photographing 463 and the last westbound from Los Pinos to Cumbres, I headed back over La Manga and down to Antonito. With the dry weather, I managed to get further out into the desert than ever before, though I wound up stopping near RR MP 285 due to road conditions and the angle of the light. From there, I shot 497 heading into Antonito, and with the sun rapidly dropping I decided to call it a day. A short, quick trip to the C&TS for its last day of 2002 season trains.

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