Last Wednesday I returned from a 5 day photo charter at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad and finished processing the first shots last night. ; For those not familiar with the C&TS, it is a 64 mile portion of the old Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge railroad. ; In 1879, the decision was made to build a narrow gauge line from Alamosa, Colorado west to Durango, Colorado and then on to the rich mining region around Silverton, Colorado which became known as the San Juan Extension. ; Narrow gauge was selected since the smaller equipment and narrower wheel base allows for tighter radius curves that are better suited to mountain railroading. ; Construction reached the town of Antonito, Colorado in April of 1880 and Chama, New Mexico in December of 1880. ; Passenger service was suspended on the line in the early 1950's and the last freight was run west to Durango on December 5th 1968 after which the line was abandoned by the D&RGW. ; Fortunately for us railfans, the states of Colorado and New Mexico saw the opportunity to preserve the line and through an act of Congress, created a bi-state commission to purchase and oversee the operation of the railroad. ; In July of 1970 the commission paid $547,120 for the 64 miles of track between Chama and Antonito along with a large selection of locomotives and rolling stock. ; Most charters on this line are only one or two days long, start in Chama and only run as far east as Osier because the historic freight cars are all located in the Chama yard. ; On a short charter, you would loose too much time getting the cars out to Antonito without incurring the cost of multiple train crews so the east end is rarely photographed. ; For those reasons, this 5 day charter was very appealing because the extra days would allow us to shoot many locations over the entire length of the line and spread out the costs of extra crews over the entire trip. ; The icing on the cake was the fact that the operators planned to run mid train helpers westbound from Antonito to Cumbres Pass and a rear pusher eastbound from Chama to Cumbres Pass which was historically accurate. ; Again, most charters don't bother with the extra engines and when they do, they often run inaccurate double headers. ; Needless to say, I signed up the day tickets went on sale.