DRGW Narrow Gauge


(Note: The documents in this section of the website were received from a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.)

DRGW Narrow Gauge Train Orders from the 1960s

There are five volumes of train orders from a portion of the final years of the DRGW narrow gauge freight operations between Silverton and Alamosa linked below. There is a volume for each year from 1963 to 1967. At the beginning of each volume is a reproduction of pages 10-11 of DRGW Colorado Division Timetable Number 7 from 1967, which has the station listings for DRGW Colorado Division subdivisions 11, 12, 12-A, and 12-B. Subdivisions 12 (Chama to Durango) and 12-A (Carbon Junction to Farmington, NM) are freight only lines that have largely been abandoned since the late 1960s. A part of subdivision 11 (Alamosa to Antonito) remains active as part of the standard gauge railroad network and is operated by the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad, a short line owned by Rail America, Inc. The remainder of subdivision 11 from Antonito to Chama has been maintained and is operated by the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad since the end of freight operations. Subdivision 12-B from Durango to Silverton was operated (reluctantly) as a tourist operation by the DRGW until its sale in the early 1980s to a private operator.

When first viewing these train orders, I thought that I would pick out a few representative orders from the various territories and make perhaps 25 or 30 pages available. Then I considered the various modelers and historians that might want to search for a favorite engine among the orders, or some detail about a portion of the operation that they are modeling or studying – and I thought – post them all. For those not familiar with the appearance and function of these train orders, they were produced on extremely thin paper, and were issued with a “Clearance” form that listed the orders issued to the train. The train was then to follow the orders received: “Train orders once in effect continue so until fulfilled, superseded or annulled.” (a portion of DRGW Rule 220 from the 1965 Rules). When a train schedule was in the timetable (such as on Subdivision 12-B) as a “Second Class” train (First Class trains were found on busier main lines elsewhere), then those trains were considered authorized by the timetable. On page 33 (and elsewhere) in the volume for 1964 there are orders for “second” 461 and 462, so the schedules for Second Class trains 463 and 464 did not yet exist. By June in the 1965 volume, there are orders annulling trains 463 and 464 on certain dates, so these trains had been authorized in the timetable by that time. The 1967 timetable is the earliest copy that I have been able to review, so I am unable to determine when exactly the additional set of Second Class trains was added to Subdivision 12-B.

The 1967 and 1968 Colorado Division employee timetables have numerous instructions dealing with narrow gauge operations in Section 5 (5-R through U in 1967, 5-Q through T in 1968), speeds for steam locomotives in Section 10-C, prohibited limits in Sections 16-K (1967) and 16-J (1968), helper operations in Sections 17-D through 17-G, and adjusted tonnage ratings for the steam locomotives in the rear of each timetable. By the 1970 Colorado Division timetable, there are brief sections related to the remaining steam operations between Durango and Silverton, which was still called Subdivision 12-B in that document. Links for the 1967, 1968, and 1970 Colorado Division timetables are found in the DRGW employee timetable section of this site.

Trains not authorized by the employee timetable were run as “extra” trains or perhaps “work extra” trains. These extra trains had to have a run or work order to occupy the main line outside of yard limits. In later years, either 1966 or 1967, the Farmington branch (subdivision 12-A) was designated as yard limits for its entirety, and no additional running authority was required on this line. Prior to this designation, “run” orders are found for extra trains between Durango and Farmington in 1965 and earlier volumes.

There are only a few orders from the east end of the narrow gauge district. For this territory, it is important to understand that tracks between Alamosa and Antonito were “dual” gauge, so a few sets of orders address steam engines operating between these points. Also, GP-7 5104 is found on pages 90-95 of the 1965 volume with orders between these two points and for the territory beyond Antonito. Page 95 contains an order with instructions and authority for the 5104 and steam engines coming from Chama. Page 92 from the 1963 volume also has GP-7 5102 with run orders on the same page with steam engines. Page 43 in the volume for 1966 advises that the Antonito water tank is empty and that westward steam engines should take water at La Jara. Some orders in 1967 also have this warning about the Antonito water tank. I hope those interested in the DRGW narrow gauge lines, and older railroad operations generally, enjoy looking through these documents that recall a time long before computers, automation, cell phones, and all the rest of the modern era. Added May 8, 2020: The last link lists the engine numbers found in the operating orders for the various years. This list was inspired by recent articles in Trains magazine about the various restoration projects on former DRGW locomotives from the final years of the narrow gauge operations.

1963 Orders 1964 Orders 1965 Orders 1966 Orders 1967 Orders Engine number from Orders

Miscellaneous Documents from the Narrow Gauge.

Linked below this paragraph are several items that are of general interest from this period. The document “Revenues 1967” is from exhibits that the DRGW produced to support the suspension of freight service on the lines between Antonito and Durango. The “Mechanical Records” are roundhouse records for locomotives 492 and 493. Engine 492 was involved in a wreck near Navajo, NM in 1963. A report from the incident from a crew member is also linked (run order and photo also included nearby). The employee seniority list from 1964 included the employees working the narrow gauge and in Alamosa working standard gauge. The various Rio Grande Southern ticket and agency items were received from a retired conductor.

Revenues 1967 Mechanical Records Employees 1964 Rio Grande Southern items

Navajo Wreck Report 492 Run Order 492 Photo

Narrow Gauge Photos.

The collection of photos and postcard photos below is not intended to be particularly thorough or organized, but rather is representative of items received over the years from various sources because of the interest in the narrow gauge in its final years. Where known, the photographer is named in the file. Many dates for engine or facility photographs are estimated, and may not be accurate. Collections from the internet and in the Denver Public Library files are much more extensive for those seeking information about the era. The photos are grouped in three periods: Early 1900s through the early 1930s, the late 1930s through the early 1950s, and the late 1950s through the 1960s.

The Early Years 1900s to early 1930s

1910 405 Cimarron J. Thode 1910 ON Rotary Anthracite Br J. Thode 1922 175 Cimarron J. Thode

1920s 408 Durango TT 1920s 524 Std Gauge Farmington 1930s 477

Late 1930s to early 1950s

1935 225 Durango J. Thode 1938 Chama, NM 1939 475 Chama, NM 1939 OM Rotary Chama, NM

1930s N End Durango 1940s Silverton Depot 1930s Santa Fe branch

1940s Rio Grande Southern derailed 464 Millwood, CO

1940s Condr on San Juan at Dulce, NM 1951 Plow Gunnison J. Thode

1950s through 1960s

Files numbered 31 - 40 below are from a rescue train to a snowbound train in the late 1950s.

Files 6 - 7 and 41 through 48 are other postcards of the narrow gauge from this period, except 6 from the 1920s.

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 W of Gato, NM 47 Gato, NM 48 Animas River

6 1920s Pagosa Jct (later Gato) 7 1940s Gato, NM

1955? US Army 3000 1962? Water tank Arboles, NM Date? 487 Durango

1963 Cumbres Pass R. Walker 1963 497 Durango R. Walker

1964 Embudo, NM depot (Chili Line) 1964 Sante Fe, NM depot (Chili Line)

1965 Color Caravan La Jara, CO 1965 Color Caravan La Jara

1966 498 derailed Sub 12-A 1966 492 Farmington, NM E. Robart

1967 484 Gato, NM R. Kindig 484 Run order 1967 1967 498 Chama, NM J Hereford Jr

1968 473 Gato, NM Four Trainmen Chama, NM 1967-8

1966? Trainman hanging marker Caboose 0505 1966? Caboose 0540 Sub 12-B Work Extra

More recent photos

After finishing these photos for this project above, I recalled that I had a few personal shots from a trip riding the Silverton train when it was still operated by the DRGW in September 1980. Also we passed through both Chama and Durango a few times on family trips in the early 1980s and I captured a small number of photos of both the DSNG and CTS in their early days of operation. Perhaps these might be of some interest to modelers or others.

CTS 484 early 1980s CTS 487 early 1980s CTS OM Rotary Chama early 1980s CTS Chama depot early 1980s

DRGW NG Sep 1980 DRGW NG Sep 1980 DSNGRR 473 early 1980s