the La Plata Division

of  the

Denver & Rio Grande Western

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Rio Grande Era Photos

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Who am I?

~ Check out my book ~

Now in its Second Printing

Go to and search for "Rio Grande". You're gonna like it...

Or, Contact me directly for a signed copy.   Send e-mail to: drgwlpd AT yahoo DOT com

The Moffat Line was originally constructed by the Denver, Northwest & Pacific, later renamed to the Denver & Salt Lake (D&SL).  Never healthy financially, in 1936 the D&SL was put into joint receivership with the D&RGW.  From that time on, the Rio Grande became an increasing presence on the Moffat line, until 1946 when the two railroads were officially merged.

My layout's D&RGW era actually consists of several mini-eras.  Currently I can do the mid-1960s, the mid-1970s, early 1980's, late 1980's. Essentially, I select a year and choose rolling stock and power to suit. (I also change out any vehicles on the layout to match the era.)

(For reference, here is the track plan.)

Here's what you would see if you were standing just inside West Portal as a train approached.  The last thing you would see, that is!  (By the way, once when I was a kid, we walked into the tunnel until it was too dark to see anything.  Reeeaaallly stupid.  Of course, now there's so many security cameras there that you'd be nabbed within moments...)  Since the blue lodge is visible in the background, this photo would have to have been taken post-1980.
It's January 1965.  A westbound freight led by three F7's meet an eastbound sitting in the hole at Winter Park.  It's led by a trio of brand-new GP30's. Note the F's are a mixture of the one-stripe and four-stripe schemes.
Close-up shot of No. 5390, a tunnel motor with the box headlight assembly on the low nose.

Compare to the actual unit as seen in 2001 after modifications, here.

Let's follow a westbound freight up the mountain in 1986...
Train 187 is starting into the Big 10 loops.  At this point it's headed geographically east, but that will soon change.  See here for the actual track alignment.
A little further on, the 187 passes around the upper Big 10 curve and the windbreak built of retired hopper cars.  This is a trademark location on the Moffat line.
Now in South Boulder Canyon, the train is passing through Tunnel 27.
After transiting the Moffat, the 187 is taking the siding to get around an eastbound PSCX coal train that's waiting on the main.  The snow is up to the railheads in this area.  Train 702 will have to wait for the tunnel to vent before proceeding.
Downhill a few miles is the town of Hideaway Park (incorporated as Winter Park circa 1980).  Vasquez road crosses the tracks here.
The tracks loop around the nose of a ridge below Vasquez, and a cut lessens the curvature.  Our train is just passing into its shadows in the late afternoon light.
The town of Winter Park has a huge number of condominiums in and around it.  Here the train passes below one such structure.

(Since this photo, the landlord has planted more trees around the property.)

Now back to your usual Rio Grande content...
Three six-axle locomotives led by Tunnel Motor No. 5376 are descending through the Big 10 curves at Rocky with a loaded coal train. 

The lead unit is one I picked up on E-bay.  I added the low-nose headlight and renumbered it.

In a scene from the mid 1960s, a pair of F-units lead a passenger special down the mountain at Cliff.
Amtrak train No. 5 is headed through Clay in 1986.  Note the standard pair of F40PH locomotives, and the Hi-Level transition car behind the baggage. These cars, originally built for Santa Fe's El Capitan service in the 1950s, were used on Amtrak trains until the advent of the Superliner 2 Transition Sleepers circa 1994. Some were used even after that time.
Train 103, the westbound Railblazer hotshot piggyback train, is crossing Vasquez Road on its way west, just after dusk.
Up at West Portal, the Ski Train is preparing to return to Denver.  The ski resort is behind the train, and Berthoud Pass is in the distance.

The cars are my scratch-built Tempo cars.


?  James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.