There can be no better inspiration for your model railroad than the real thing. Hidden away in a little-known corner of the southern Rocky Mountains is a precious historic artefact of the American West. Built in 1880 and little changed since, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSR) is the most spectacular example of steam era mountain railroading in North America.

The C&TSR is a bi-state (Colorado/New Mexico) owned Scenic Railroad Celebrating 40 years of this status. We have been a railroad for 130 years as a part of the famous Denver & Rio Grande Western Narrow Gauge Railway.  

This is a selection of videos  depicting  the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad which runs a distance of 64 miles from  Chama in New Mexico via Cumbres Pass and Toltec Gorge to Antonito in Colorado criss-crossing the New Mexico - Colorado border no less than 11 times.

I was fortunate enough to travel on this preserved line in September 2010 and it was an unforgettable experience. You can find out all about the Railroad from their website at and they publish regular videos of the line on YouTube.

Something you don't see every day. A triple header (or more correctly "a three mid-train helper" train ) which ran as a  Rio Grande freight special to Osier, CO October 25, 2008. Apparently the Cumbres & Toltec RR repainted all three locomotives for the trip.

To lovers of steam railroading, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad ranks as one of the classic railway rides, offering spectacular scenery and vintage 3 foot gauge steam in the Colorado and New Mexico mountains.

This video concentrates on the strenuous 4 percent (1 in 25) climb from Chama New Mexico to the 10,015 foot Cumbres Pass, and onwards into the Los Pinos Valley. All the best photo locations are detailed. It provides a comprehensive guide to the most easily accessible parts of the line.

All three 2-8-2 locomotives types used in recent years are featured, the K-27 #463, K-36's #484, 487, 488 and 489 and K-37 #497. Scenes in Chama Yard are followed by full-throttle action, both single and double-headed, with maps and narration.

The film has scenes from 1997, 2000 and 2003 and has a brief historical introduction to the line and gradient profile together with several on-train scenes throughout the climb from Chama to Cumbres Pass with 463 double-heading 489.  


Scenes from the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad in Colorado. 

A series of videos featuring the preserved Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad which was once a section of the famous Denver & Rio Grande Railway and is now part of the rich heritage of the Old West.  The line runs from Chama in New Mexico (where the yards have existed since 1881) via Cumbres Pass and Toltec Gorge to Antonito in Colorado criss-crossing the New Mexico - Colorado border no less than 11 times. - a distance of 64 miles.

The first video features 'K' Series Mikados as a "double header" pulling passenger traffic .

This is followed by short footage of a Tie (Sleeper) Train in both Sepia and Colour.

All aboard for an  HD Narrow Gauge Steam Spectacular in our next video as the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic RR repaints the equipment for a rare photo freight. First we top up the mighty K-36 tender of # 487 at the historic Osier, CO water-tower before charging up the Rocky Mountains to Tanglefoot curve and the 10,015' Cumbres Pass and several crossings as the Last Freight Train to Chama, in 2008 but if you want to take a ride see:

The fourth video is another double-header and as one observer commented "K" Series Mikados "aren't just chuffing, working, barking or working hard, they are THUNDERING through the Rockies and man do they let everyone know about it!"

freight train on the C&TSS.
Unfortunately the Lobato Trestle in the opening shot burnt up this summer (2010) and they can't use it at the moment so trains are starting at Cumbres. The Railroad has brought in a team of engineers to evaluate the damage and there are lots more photos of progress to be found on the company's art gallery on their website (see above). The Railroad has also published Videos of re-building work on the bridge on YouTube culminating in the first train being run over the new bridge on the 17th June 2011 (see below).

We finish (at least for the time-being) with yet another double-header!!!!

This is the latest video of a full passenger train being driven over the Lobato Trestle to Chama for the morning train on 19th June 2011.  A great achievement by all concerned and the Cumbres & Toltec will now be able to run the entire length of the line for the Summer season.