In June 2002, a massive forest fire flared up northeast of Durango. Due to the extreme drought, the D&SNG railroad eventually decided to suspend coal-fired trains north of Hermosa. Fortuitously for the line, a small diesel locomotive had been acquired very recently, and was operational by the time of the decision to halt through service. As a stopgap measure, management began operating a twice-daily diese'-powered train from Rockwood, out along the High Line, to the High Bridge and back. Due to the lower tractive effort of this locomotive, trains were reduced in length to just 5 cars.

Diesel operations are rather rare on narrow gauge lines, and I wanted to try to photograph this unique occurrence if it was possible. On July 4th we visited Rockwood to try to see this train in action, and were fortunate to find it spotted next to the small depot, ready to go.

(click on pictures for a larger version)

The locomotive was on the uphill end of the train. The shop crew had christened it "Hot Shot 1" in honor of the firefighters battling the blaze to the east.

A nose view. The train consisted of two coaches and two open gondola cars, balanced around a snack bar car.

The opposite side. The locomotive has a small diesel powerplant in each hood, making for an interesting sound when it is in motion.

. Upon discoverin that the train was making a run within the hour, we decided to hike out close to the gorge and get some action photos. Staying clear of the right-of-way, we managed to get to a safe vantage point above the river (and the tracks). Right on schedule, the little train appeared out of the cut east of Rockwood.

Approaching the fill...

On the fill...

Slowing down for the 5 mph speed restriction along the High Line...

A roof shot, for the detail-oriented.

Approaching the cut that leads directly to the gorge and the High Line.

Treading carefully around the last curve before the High Line.

The tail end disappears through the final cut.

Not far behind the train came a section crew in a track speeder, pulling a water tank for fire prevention. It was the same equipment pictured on my other page dealing with Rockwood train-watching. It would have been nice to photograph the train actually on the ledge above the gorge, but we couldn't see a safe way of getting to such a vantage point. But the location achieved was picturesque and remote, and we weren't disappointed by the results.

[Back to the D&SNG Page]