RR Smokestack DoubleHeader - The Cumbres and Toltec RR is America’s Highest and Longest Coal Fired, Steam Operated, Narrow Gauge Railroad
For your viewing pleasure is this image taken from a vintage 35mm slide of the Cumbres and Toltec RR in action spouting an awesome double-header smokestack plume, it was most likely taken around the late 1960s. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is hidden away in a little-known corner of the southern Rocky Mountains, and is a precious historic artifact of the American West. Built in 1880 and essentially unchanged since, the C&TSRR is the most outstanding and best known example of steam era mountain railroading in North America. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is known around the world for its spectacular scenery, unique machinery, and historic structures. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad was originally constructed in 1880 as part of the Rio Grande’s San Juan Extension, which served the silver mining district of the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado. Like all of the Rio Grande at the time, it was built to a gauge of 3 feet between the rails, instead of the more common 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches that became standard in the United States. The inability to interchange cars with other railroads led the Rio Grande to begin converting its tracks to standard gauge in 1890. (source www.cumbrestoltec.com) Today the railroad is operated for the states by the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission, an interstate agency authorized by an act of Congress in 1974. Care of the historic assets, and interpretation of the railroad is entrusted to the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, a non-profit, member-based organization whose mission is to preserve and interpret the railroad as a living history museum for the benefit of the public.
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