This show was shot by the same photographer (Ted Collins) who shot the "Riding the RGS" show we released a couple of years ago (2020). This was probably part of that same trip where he rode the Rio Grande Southern. This show begins in Alamosa as we ride the Parlor Car "Alamosa" along the 4th division of the Rio Grande Narrow Gauge to Durango. This was an all day trip aboard the "San Juan" which was the last regularly scheduled narrow gauge passenger train in the country. It ended shortly after these films were taken.
Mr. Collins spliced together his trip from 1949 and 1950 into one trip. While most scenes are shot off the rear of the "Alamosa" there are a few trackside views. We don't know for sure if someone else shot these, or he chased part of one trip and got on later. Most locations are indicated with scene titles along the route. Today this is part of the Cumbres and Toltec (Antonito to Chama). We see some good scenery, and places along the route like Antonito, Whiplash Curve, Cumbres, Lobato, Chama, Gato, and Durango. Speaking of Lobato, we meet an eastbound freight in the siding that has an engine on the front and one on the rear ahead of the caboose, which was normal practice on the 4% grade to Cumbres.
We see one train arriving in Chama, and see the crew servicing engine 488, and the consist of the train. We then head west, and everything is onboard footage, except at Carracus where we enjoy several meets with the mostly eastbound trains. There are several shots here, so its sometimes hard to know if we are seeing an opposing train or the one we are riding. This is the usual spot where the two San Juan trains met each day. The ride on the San Juan is two years combined heading west between Alamosa and Durango. They did not go back eastward but instead went north from Ridgeway(Seen In "Riding the RGS").
We continue on to Durango, and of course have enjoyed the scenes from Chama to Durango, which were torn up in 1970 when the line was abandoned in this section. At Durango we see the 1949 trip and then the 1950 trip as separate runs on the film.
The 1949 trip begins in Durango with 2-8-0 number 315 switching in Durango. This would be its last year of operation on the D&RGW, but it was saved, and is operational today. Then we ride the mixed train from Durango to Silverton behind K-27 2-8-2 number 453. Along the way it stops to switch cars in sidings. At Silverton we see activity on a movie set, which was the filming of "A Ticket To Tomahawk". This featured Rio Grande Southern 4-6-0 #20 in movie livery, and we see it a couple times as we enter and depart Silverton. We are treated to some other movie scenes while in town. The 20 was given the name Emma Sweeney for the movie and it is clearly seen in our film.
The 1950 trip begins with engine 345 switching in Durango. This is a rare treat as was 315 and 453 in the 1949 film. On this trip we ride the mixed train behind 473. K-28 2-8-2 number 473 was in "Grande Gold" paint, sometimes called "Bumble Bee" paint. It was painted this way along with some coaches to draw attention to the railroad. 473 ran this way into 1951, but derailed along the river in 1951, and after repair was painted back to normal black livery.
There is a lot of history here, with trains that no longer run, engines that no longer run, and scenes that just cannot be viewed today. You will get some good history in the narration and we have included appropriate music for these original silent films. Stuff like this comes along once in a lifetime!