I was able to take a train ride while attending the Durango Independent Film Festival in the beginning of March. Being winter, the line was only open for the bottom half, so it made a nice morning trip and something to do before attending my first screening at the festival.
While the scenery was nice, I was of course more interested in the steam locomotive itself.
Well actually, my brother was the train buff when we were growing up, but my fascination with old technology has worked its way to these wonderful contraptions. Especially steam locomotives: properly maintained, they can work for centuries and besides that they look wonderful. Engine 169 from the Denver & Rio Grande railroad is a good candidate for restoration, and had been saved and preserved in Alamosa, CO.
William Jackson Palmer was born and raised a Quaker in Pennsylvania, went into the railroad business, but felt so strongly about the cause of Abolition that he joined the Union Army during the Civil War, and suffered consequences of that from his family and church. He served with distinction, rose to the rank of General, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Lincoln himself. After the war, he went back into railroads, came out West, and founded his own railroad running North-South. The D&RG intersected most other railroads there at the time, and connected many mining towns along the Front Range that had sprung up supplying miners going into the Rockies looking for gold. General Palmer founded the town of Colorado Springs and lived there the rest of his life. I was happy to see a Springs connection in Alamosa when I went there for the Southern Colorado Film Festival.
There was a railroad that I considered riding after the festival, but ended up not having time for unfortunately. I did go into their yard and take a few pics of some of their engines and cars; some are in better condition than others. What I didn’t see and wish I had was a mid-century diesel engine, though there were later electric engines, though perhaps they were in a different spot. Alamosa seems to be a repository of old train cars and I hope these will end up being preserved as well.