Author Topic: Rotary OY on the Cumbres & Toltec >>>Photo Album<<<  (Read 1797 times)

Kevin Madore

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Rotary OY on the Cumbres & Toltec >>>Photo Album<<<
« on: March 19, 2020, 08:58:49 AM »

I don't know about you, but with all of the virus-related stuff on the TV and everywhere else, there are times when I want to just shut it all off......and try not to think too much.    In those times, I find it relaxing to just immerse myself in some of the thousands of photos that I've taken over the years, or in those of my photographer friends.

A couple of weeks back, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad's 50th anniversary Rotary Run on the 4% grade from Chama to Cumbres Pass.   The operation featured Rotary OY, one of the two extant D&RGW snow plows that normally resides in the Chama Yard.   In anticipation of this event, OY was given a pretty thorough restoration by both the C&TS Mechanical Department and the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec.   Because she was used only sporadically back in the day, OY was actually in pretty good shape mechanically, but much of the external siding was replaced.  The plow looked very nice.

As you might imagine, a lot of planning had to go into this event.  Since the railroad really couldn't afford to do this on their own,  both the restoration and the operation had to be financed by ticket sales.   Needless to say, for an operation as expensive as this one, that involved a difficult balance of keeping the ticket price semi-affordable, and keeping the number of attendees semi-manageable.   "Semi" was the operative word.   Additionally, there was the constraint that the railroad's insurance company wanted no part of a free-for-all.   They had seen some of the things that went on during UP's Big Boy tours and were very concerned that little Chama did not have the police, fire and EMS resources to deal with a mob-scene.   As RR CMO Stathi Pappas put it: " A rotary plow is the nuclear weapon of railfandom.  If we did not exercise control, we would have bedlam."   So the railroad engaged the police and highway departments of both New Mexico and Colorado, and they elected to implement a rolling work-zone around the event.   Photographers would ride in motor coaches and shoot from the highway.   Police and highway department people would close the road and escort transient traffic through the zone in a safe manner.  Transients would not be allowed to stop or park.

Needless to say, the costs for all of this were pretty astronomical.   The train operation alone would cost $30,000 per day just to break even.  The cost to rehab the rotary was estimated at $68,000.   Each uniformed State Trooper would cost $3,000 per day.   Oh, and the railroad needed to feed everybody breakfast, lunch and dinner, because little Chama is basically sleeping in February.  Not much of the tourist infrastructure is open.   Ticket cost?   Well, that was $1,200 per person, and attendance was limited to 150 people.   Yeah, it was crowded, and it was very challenging for most of us, who were used to perhaps 30-40 people, not 150.   You couldn't necessarily be where you wanted to be. 

All of that said, it was pretty thrilling to watch and listen to, especially when the rotary outfit was up on the rock shelf near Windy Point.  This was my second rotary run......I was at White Pass in 2011, so I felt very fortunate.   These days, rotary runs are rarer than solar eclipses.   And because of all of the logistical hassles and costs, C&TS President John Bush admonished us to please "Enjoy the show!"   He said they do not anticipate running OY on the west side again.   

So with that background, I present an album of representative photos that I shot during the event.   I hope you find at least one or two that you will like!

Thanks for looking, and STAY WELL!

/Kevin Madore

Mike Fox

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Re: Rotary OY on the Cumbres & Toltec >>>Photo Album<<<
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2020, 09:42:40 AM »
Thanks Kevin. Always some great photos.

Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy them.
Doing way too much to list...

Bob Holmes

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Re: Rotary OY on the Cumbres & Toltec >>>Photo Album<<<
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2020, 09:50:19 AM »
Beautiful work Kevin, as usual.  The written narration was really informative.

Videos are available on You Tube...


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Re: Rotary OY on the Cumbres & Toltec >>>Photo Album<<<
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2020, 10:04:34 AM »
Thanks a lot Kevin for sharing those impressive pics and for your very intresting comment.